Tag Archives: Tajikistan History

Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: “Tajikistan, Most Muslim Country in Central Asia, Struggles to Rein In Islam”

In the last month alone, local authorities closed almost 100 mosques in the northern part of Tajikistan, the latest effort by Dushanbe to control Islam in the most fervently Muslim country in Central Asia. Yet, this campaign is exceedingly likely to backfire by driving both imams who have lost their jobs as well as their former parishioners and followers to go underground. Indeed, this move may be at least as counterproductive as Dushanbe’s decision two years ago to call home the 6,000 Tajikistani Muslims studying in madrassas (Muslim religious schools) and Islamic universities abroad and then refusing to allow them to work in government-registered mosques. And that entire situation was further exacerbated by the fact that the government has restricted higher Islamic education inside the country to a single Muslim center.

By systematically going after mosques and places of Islamic study, Dushanbe is in large measure recapitulating the unsuccessful Soviet approach, dramatically expanding the Muslim underground in the most Muslim country in Central Asia. As a result, at least some of those Muslim faithful pushed to the shadows could ultimately link up with Islamist radicals coming into the country from Afghanistan, destabilizing the impoverished country still further. If that happens—and there is some evidence that it already is (see below)—the government in Dushanbe and those who want to block the export of Islamist radicalism from Afghanistan are likely to suffer a major defeat and possibly even the overthrow of the secular regime in Tajikistan. In large measure, they will have only themselves to blame for such a loss.

At the end of January, officials in the Tajikistani city of Isfara (Sughd Region) announced that they had closed 45 mosques for failing to maintain “sanitary norms.” Apparently, these former places of worship will be converted into clubs and other social institutions (News.tj, January 25). Then, officials in the neighboring Ghafurov District announced that they were closing 45 mosques supposedly because some of them were built too close together—Tajikistani law bans having two religious facilities within 50 meters of one another—and transforming them into social centers as well (News.tj, January 30).

Officials insist that a sufficient number of mosques will remain open. In the case of the latter closings, the Ghafurov District, which has 360,000 residents, will still have 136 mosques—one for every 2,700 people (Fergananews.com, January 30). The authorities claim there are “about 4,000” officially registered mosques throughout Tajikistan, of which 370 are so-called “cathedral mosques” of significant size. Moreover, according to the government, that there are some 3,914 imams, or one for every 2,210 people in the country, making Tajikistan the most Islamic state in Central Asia by either of these measures (Fergananews.com, November 2, 2017).

But those numbers are deceptive. On the one hand, the government exercises tight control over both mosques and imams. All of the latter are appointed by the government-controlled Council of the Ulema and the State Committee for Religious Affairs. The imams are paid out of government funds, a miserly 800 som ($90) a month. The government also has banned from serving as an imam in official mosques anyone who has received any theological education abroad. This has dramatically limited the number of people in the country who can serve—there is only one Muslim academy in all of Tajikistan, and it is small. It has also diminished the quality of those serving—many Tajikistani imams do not know Arabic or even basic prayers. Furthermore, the government decides on the subjects of the homilies of the imams and regularly distributes to them a special brochure of “recommended” texts. Finally, the country’s security services have set up video surveillance within and around all mosques in the capitals and major cities and many of the mosques in smaller towns as well (Fergananews.com, January 30). It would seem that the authorities have things under control as much as possible.

But on the other hand, there is an alternative Islam, one that in Soviet times Western scholars like Alexandre Bennigsen called “unofficial” or “underground” Islam. It consists of all Islamic practice that the government does not allow. And as Bennigsen showed, the more tightly the Soviet authorities restricted what “official” mosques and imams could do, the larger and more vital became this second face of Islam (Alexandre Bennigsen, Islam in the Soviet Union, London, 1967; Bennigsen, Islamic Threat to the Soviet State, London, 1983).

The reasons for evoking that legacy when discussing present-day Tajikistan are numerous: First, Tajikistan in the 1990s suffered a bitter civil war in which an Islamic party played a major role. That party has now been banned (see EDM, September 11, 2015); but its supporters remain not only in the population but among the military and the civilian bureaucracy (RFE/RL, December 1, 2015). The large number of Tajiks who identify as imams but who cannot work in official mosques because they received their training abroad or because, as now, their mosques have been closed are ready, willing and able to lead those who also do not feel comfortable in the denatured Islam that Dushanbe permits (Emmanuel Karagiannis, “The Challenge of Radical Islam in Tajikistan,” Nationalities Papers, 34:1, 2006, pp. 1–20.). And the Tajiks of northern Afghanistan, many of whom are Islamists, have made inroads in Tajikistan in recent months as have Tajik Islamic State fighters now returning home (Asia Times, February 4, 2018).

Many in Moscow and the West have praised Dushanbe for its moves to control Islamist radicalism. But they have generally failed to understand that by its actions against Islam, the Tajikistani government is radicalizing far more of its citizens than it is reining in.

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 15 Issue: 18

Jamestown.org

Noria: “The Dynamics of the Peace Process in Tajikistan: Power-Sharing and the Unravelling of the post-Civil War Status Quo”

by | Jan 15, 2018

Parts of Central Asia – a region where authoritarian rule has been the norm since the end of the Soviet Union – are liberalising, albeit modestly. In Uzbekistan, this has been the case since the passing of President Karimov in 2016. As for Kyrgyzstan, it experienced its first formal democratic transfer of power after the October 2017 presidential elections. Tajikistan, however, seems to go against regional trends and is steadily sliding towards consolidated authoritarianism. For much of the 2000s, this small landlocked country, located at the junction of Asia’s highest mountain ranges1, enjoyed a considerable degree of political pluralism (second only to Kyrgyzstan), and the highest degree of media freedom in all Central Asia.2 The end of this brief democratic opening coincides with the unravelling of the post-civil war power-sharing agreement. Tajikistan is still recovering from the bloody civil war of 1992-1997, which led to the loss of 60,000 to 100,000 lives and to the displacement of approximately 650,000 Tajikistanis.3

The conflict pitted regionally-based interest groups against one another in a struggle both for access to state resources and over competing ideological visions for the country’s future. The pro-government factions, drawn from the ranks of the Soviet-era bureaucratic elite and backed by the traditionally dominant lowland-dwelling Tajikistanis in the north and south of the country, were bent on defending the post-independence status quo. Independence had been thrust upon the Central Asian republics unexpectedly in 1991. Tajikistan’s political leadership, having with great reluctance shouldered their emancipation from Moscow, aimed to mitigate for these changes by preserving a degree of continuity with the Soviet era. This meant maintaining strong state control over the lives of the country’s citizens, especially in the economic, religious and national identity realms. The chief challenger of the status quo was the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), a loose coalition of Tajik nationalists, moderate Islamists, liberal democratic activists and advocates for greater self-determination for the linguistically and confessionally distinct Gorno-Badakhshan region. The Tajik opposition’s aims were the relinquishment of Tajikistan’s Soviet legacy and a partial reorientation of the country’s political ties from the post-Soviet space towards the wider Persian-speaking world. The UTO was backed by the inhabitants of the rugged mountainous regions of central and eastern Tajikistan, by their regional-identity-preserving kinsmen in the cotton-rich southern lowland Qurghonteppa region, relocated there by force during the Stalinist era, and also by the liberal-minded parts of the urban intelligentsia.

The armed conflict was the culmination of a series of domestic crises, starting with the February 1990 riots (triggered by the rumoured relocation of Armenian refugees to Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capital). Large-scale opposition protests in mid-1991, in reaction to the failed coup in Moscow, culminated in the resignation of then President Mahkamov and the outlawing of the Communist party. The emboldened opposition took to the streets again the following year, after the dismissal of the Badakhshani minister of interior Navzhuvanov.4 Firearms found their way into the hands of the participants of opposing rallies and town square sit-ins and violence eventually broke out. The fighting then spread to most parts of the country, as returning protesters and counter-protesters alike brought belligerent zeal to their own respective home provinces. The first months of the war were also the most violent. A pro-government paramilitary group known as the Popular Front initiated “sub-ethnic” cleansing, singling-out civilians on the basis of on their regional origins, first in the mixed Qurghonteppa region, only to bring this tactic over later to the capital. Tajikistan’s neighbours and other regional powers played an important role in both the civil war and the eventual peace talks. The government received fluctuating degrees of support from the Russian Federation and neighbouring Uzbekistan, while Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance5 supplied the UTO with arms, training and logistical support. As for Iran, it provided the opposition with ideological backing, most notably supporting the now-banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), the UTO’s most powerful constituent.

The article maps the peace process and post-war power-sharing in Tajikistan. It shows how the post-conflict political order unravelled, with the creeping monopolization of the executive branch by pro-government forces squeezing out all meaningful opposition. Nevertheless, despite the political and economic challenges and persistent regional divisions, no renewed larger-scale armed conflict has taken place in Tajikistan so far.6

THE PEACE PROCESS AND POWER SHARING: SHAKING THE TRADITIONAL INTER-REGIONAL POWER BALANCE

The end of the war in Tajikistan can be attributed to coordinated international efforts to bring the warring sides to the negotiating table. This reflected both new security developments in the region and an alignment of national interests among key regional players. This was most notably the case of Iran and Russia, brought together by the latter’s bid to complete the construction of a nuclear power plant in the southern Iranian city of Bushehr. In early 1996, Russian foreign minister Kozyrev had been replaced by the more proactive Yevgeny Primakov, an expert in the Middle East, and Russia’s “soft underbelly” to the south regained prominence in Moscow’s policymaking. In Afghanistan just next door, the rapid northward advances of the Taliban after the fall of Kabul that same year allowed for some Russian arm twisting of the Northern Alliance, compelling the latter to stop supplying the UTO with weapons.7 External interference thus ensured that none of the two warring parties in Tajikistan could secure a decisive victory and that the only conceivable outcome would be a negotiated peace deal.

“Track Two” diplomacy laid the groundwork for official meetings in Moscow, Tehran, Islamabad and other regional capitals. These meetings set the modalities for an indefinite ceasefire, the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, and the demobilization of the “armed opposition” or their incorporation into the national army. However, a serious shortcoming of those peace talks and the peace process at large was that they excluded very early on some of the major regionally-based interest groups. This was notably the case of the more hard-line Islamists within the UTO and of the largely pro-government Uzbek minority. Conspicuously side-lined was also the historically dominant Leninabad Region in the north of the country, virtually unscathed by a civil war roaring at a safe distance two high mountain chains away, which gradually lost its political dominance to the southern Kulob Region.8 These exclusions led to several violent attempts to derail the peace process. The most high-profile case was a series of armed incursions by rogue ex-army commander Khudoiberdiev, a member of the country’s sizeable Uzbek minority, carried out from neighbouring Uzbekistan in 1996 and 1998. Furthermore, in remote parts of central and eastern Tajikistan, a handful of former UTO commanders kept engaging in skirmishes with government forces until as late as the mid-2010s.9

In light of this limited inclusiveness, the civil war and subsequent peace process did little to resolve the structural causes behind the original outbreak of hostilities, namely weak state capacity, extreme regional imbalances in access to resources, a regionally fragmented and weakly consolidated national identity, and chronic side-lining of both Islamist and liberal voices. The only deep change the civil war brought about was the southward shift of the inter-regional power balance. This change had manifested itself in the replacement, half way into the war, of Leninabadi President R. Nabiev by Emomali Rahmon, the current incumbent. The latter had worked as a chairman of a collective farm in the Danghara District of the southern Kulob Region, half-way between Dushanbe and the city of Kulob itself. The appointment of then inconsequential and seemingly weak Rahmon was a compromise between the economically and politically-dominant North and the high command of Tajikistan’s armed forces, which traditionally hailed from Kulob. Leninabad’s isolation from the rest of the country, the lack of more active Northern involvement in the civil war and the South’s brandished authenticity as the home of true Tajiks (as opposed to the more “Uzbek-flavoured” North), all contributed to this side-lining.

THE IMPLEMENTATION AND THE EROSION OF THE POWER-SHARING DEAL: EARLY RED FLAGS

The post-war arrangement granted 30% of the seats in the executive branch to the UTO. The necessity to “free up” the promised percentage served as an excuse for the newly dominant southern regional grouping to remove from positions of power the regional cliques that had been excluded from the peace negotiations.10 The ones bearing the brunt were the northern Leninabadis and the Uzbeks, but also to some extent non-Danghari Kulobis. Last but not least, none of the key ministries were ceded to former UTO commanders; they were all securely in the hands of the ascendant Southern political elites.11 Such repudiations from the executive branch, which the government could easily blame on exogenous constraints, like the implementation of an internationally-brokered peace agreement, were a sign of things to come.

The post-civil war power-sharing mechanism itself suffered an early blow in 2000, when the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund pledged tens of millions of dollars of post-conflict economic assistance to Tajikistan under the condition that government spending will be noticeably slimmed down. Ministries, government agencies and state companies were thus disbanded or merged, in a way that consistently targeted those positions held by the opposition, rather than by the dominant, essentially Southern, power group.12 Disbanding existing ministries proved to be too limited of a tool in reshaping the post-war power balance. The post-conflict compromise was further undermined by a de-legitimization campaign against non-co-opted high-ranking members of the UTO still holding quota-related positions of power. The most common approach was the use of flimsy disciplinary or criminal charges against prominent ex-UTO commanders. This tactic was used in 2003 against Shamsiddin Shamsiddinov, deputy-chair of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT)13 and, in 2006, against Mirzo Ziyoev, minister of emergency situations.14

The slow pace of this marginalization suggests that Southern political elites had learnt from their Northern predecessors’ mistakes. Some experts claim that the escalation of violence at the start of the civil war in the early 1990s was set off by a full-on attack on the opposition by overconfident Northern political elites.15 The Southerners’ slow and cautious eviction of the opposition proved to be a more successful strategy. This explains why the IRPT was only outlawed in 2015, first by parliamentary vote and later again by a supreme court ruling. What begs an explanation, however, is the Islamic Renaissance Party’s surprising complacency.

A NEW POLITICAL AND SOCIO-POLITICAL REALITY: THE CONSTRICTION OF THE RULING CIRCLE AND OF THE NARRATIVE OF SECURING PEACE FOR TAJIKISTAN

Indeed, besides a handful of prominent exceptions, there does not seem to have been any serious backlash against the slow monopolisation of the Tajikistani state apparatus by an increasingly narrow regional clique. This self-restraint has been a striking feature of the post-civil war status quo in Tajikistan.16 It is true of the opposition in Tajikistan, but also of the bulk of the country’s adult citizenry, among which the desire to maintain peace seems to have trumped almost all other political demands. The still vivid memory of the anti-government protests in Shahidon Square in 1992, which set off a chain of events culminating in armed conflict, precludes any large-scale display of public discontent in an increasingly authoritarian state. Concurrent elections in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in 2005 were illustrative of the political apathy of Tajikistani citizens to cases of vote-rigging, while the same allegation in Kyrgyzstan led to the toppling of the regime.17 On a wider regional scale, the civil war in Tajikistan is used by autocratic regimes like Uzbekistan as a cautionary tale: it allows to present peace as incompatible with real political competition, let alone the legal existence of Islamist parties.

The people currently in power in Tajikistan seem to understand this deterrent effect very well. Moreover, the official narrative frames peace in Tajikistan as solely the President’s achievement. By imposing this narrative, Rahmon’s inner circle indirectly acknowledges that it can no longer simply rely on the fading recollections of Tajikistani citizens. Early on, primary school textbooks in post-war Tajikistan had included sentences like “We are fighting for peace”.18 More recently, a December 2015 law passed by the Parliament declared the current President “Founder of Peace and National Unity, Leader of the Nation” – local media outlets failing to write an unabridged version of this official title each time Rahmon is mentioned face hefty fines.19 As a legitimizing device, memories of the civil war and its atrocities had given way to a broader ideological narrative, hinging on the myth that Emomali Rahmon single-handedly ended the civil war in Tajikistan. Many state-commissioned posters and banners throughout the country convey this notion more or less explicitly.

However, these efforts might prove insufficient given Tajikistan’s demographic trends. While 7% of the population is between 18 and 25 years of age, a whopping 40% is under the age of 18.20 These cohorts have no personal recollections of the war of the 1990s. With time, the proportion of Tajik citizens with some degree of political consciousness but lacking the political self-restraint stemming from a first-hand experience of civil strife will increase dramatically. This will serve as a test for the credibility of the government’s one-sided narrative of peace-making, and could have a potentially destabilizing effect on the domestic situation – especially if the flow economic migrants, which is both crucial for Tajikistan’s remittance-dependent economy and a social and political “safety valve”, gets disrupted. The most important stabilising factor in Tajikistan’s political culture is thus slowly fading away. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s relative success in recruiting young Tajik migrant workers in Russia for their war effort in Syria and Iraq can serve as a red flag.21

CONCLUSION

Contrary to the prevailing official narrative, putting an end to the civil war in Tajikistan would have been hardly conceivable without an alignment of national interests amongst relevant regional players like Russia and Iran. While most short-term and medium-term goals of the peace process (the return of refugees and internally displaced persons and the end of hostilities) have been met, the erosion of institutionalised power-sharing mechanisms has greatly undermined the post-civil war status quo. With the structural tensions behind the war still unresolved, the only major stabilising force in Tajikistan is the considerable self-restraint of stakeholders, primarily of the opposition, which partly accounts for the IRPT’s passivity all the way until the recent government crackdown. All in all, post-civil war political developments in Tajikistan show a considerable degree of path-dependency, with wartime experiences and the peace process still determining political outcomes to a large extent. However, while this still holds true of the ruling elites, an increasing percentage of the population with no recollection of past hostilities would be less reluctant to refrain from violent contestation.

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Jan Tomek

Jan Tomek is an Mlitt student of “Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asian Security Studies” at University of St Andrews and graduate of the SciencesPo Paris – Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) dual degree Masters’ programme in “International Affairs: International Security”. His areas of academic interest include regional politics and issues of identity, security and development in Central Eurasia (Anatolia, the Caucasus, Iran and Central Asia). His current objective is to start a doctoral research focusing on Iran’s regional policy vis-à-vis its northwestern and northeastern neighbourhood.
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  1. Namely the Pamirs, the Karakoram Range, the Hindu Kush and, not far away, the northernmost edge of Himalayas.
  2. According to annual reports of Reporters without Borders’ “The World Press Freedom Index” and Freedom House’s “Freedom of the World”
  3. Akiner, Shirin and Catherine Barnes. “The Tajik civil war: Causes and Dynamics”. Accord, 2001, p. 18.
  4. Splidsboel Hansen, Flemming. “The outbreak and settlement of civil war: Neorealism and the case of Tajikistan”. Civil Wars, 2:4, Winter 1999, pp. 1-22.
  5. The commonly used name of the anti-Taliban “United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan”, founded in 1996, is to be understood here as all political and military factions in Afghanistan loyal to Ahmad Shah Massoud and Burhanuddin Rabbani, including pre-1996 ones.
  6. This article is based on the author’s fieldwork in Tajikistan from mid-March to late May 2016
  7. Interview with Nurali Davlat, Dushanbe, May 13, 2016
  8. Iji, Tetsuro. “Cooperation, Coordination and Complementarity in International Peacemaking: the Tajikistan Experience”. International Peacekeeping, 12:2, Summer 2005, pp. 189-204.
  9. OSCE Centre in Dushanbe Spot Reports, 2010-2011
  10. Nourzhanov, Kirill. “Saviours of the Nation or Robber Barons? Warlord Politics in Tajikistan”, Central Asian Survey, 24:2, June 2005, pp. 109-130.
  11. ICG Asia Report N° 30 – “Tajikistan: an Uncertain Peace”, International Crisis Group. 24 December 2001
  12. Nakaya, Sumie. “Aid and transition from a war economy to an oligarchy in post-war Tajikistan”. Central Asian Survey, 28:3, September 2009, pp. 259-273.
  13. Asia Briefing – “Tajikistan’s Politics: Confrontation or Consolidation?”. International Crisis Group. Dushanbe/Brussels. 19 May 2004. p. 6.
  14. Heathershaw, John. “Seeing like the International Community: How Peacebuilding Failed (and Survived) in Tajikistan”, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 2:3, November 2008, p. 348.
  15. Tunçer-Kılavuz, Idil. “Understanding Violent Conflict: A Comparative Study of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan”. Department of Central Eurasian Studies, Indiana University, August 2007. p. 10, 154.
  16. There have been questionable government efforts to establish links between the IRPT and former Deputee Defence Minister A. Nazarzoda, the instigator of the single-most recent security threat: a short-lived revolt ending with a fatal shootout in a mountain gorge not far from Dushanbe
  17. Knyazev, Aleksandr, quoted in Almatbaeva, Žuldyz. “Aleksandr Knyazev: Tadžikistan – voina meždu regional’nymi èlitami” [Aleksander Knyazev: Tajikistan is experiencing a war between regional elites] Regnum. 9 September 2015.
  18. Mahkamov S. and Š. Qosimova. ‘Zaboni davlatī (Tojikī) – Kitobi darsī baroi sinfi 3’ [The State Language (Tajiki) – A textbook for the third grade] 2003. This is probably also a reflection of Soviet-era discourse.
  19. “Tajikistan: State Media Forced to Always Call President by Unwieldy Title”. EurasiaNet, April 24, 2017.
  20. Demographic projections for the year 2016, World Bank
  21. “Grazhdane Tadzhikistana lidiruyut po kolichestvu boevikov-smertnikov IG v Sirii i Irake” [Tajikistan’s Citizens are in the Lead in Numbers of ISIL Fighters-Suicide Bombers in Syria and Iraq]. Ferghana News. March 16, 2017.

Asia-Plus: “Imam-khatib of Tajik mosque in accuses Iran in deaths of 150,000 Tajiks”

Imam-khatib of a mosque in the Hakimi jamoat of the Nourobod district (Rasht Valley), Abdusattor Yusupov, accuses Iran in deaths of 150,000 nationals of Tajikistan.

In an article that was posted on the website of the Committee on Religious Affairs (CRA) under the Government of Tajikistan, Yusupov claims that the civil war in Tajikistan was provoked by Iran and under its financial support.

According to him, 150,000 nationals of Tajikistan were killed in that war.

Yusupov calls on the people of Tajikistan to be vigilant and rally around the Leader of the Nation President.

He says that Iran supports the Islamic revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), which is banned in Tajikistan as a terrorist organization.

Recall, it is not the first such an accusation made against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

A paper by Qamar Nourulhaqov, an employee of the Center for Islamic Studies under the President of Tajikistan, titled Shiism: Ideology and Practice that was posted on Center’s website on October 20 and 21, 2017, accuses Iran of imposing its religious ideology on Tajikistan and attempting to export the Islamic revolution to Tajikistan.  For this purpose, Iran has supported the IRPT for many years, the author says.

The paper in particular, notes that impasse in once friendly relationships between Tajikistan and Iran has been caused by Iran’s attempt to Islamize Tajik society and propagates ideas of Shiism.  A general sense of the paper comes to the fact that the author demands that Iran stop its “political-and –religious game” in Tajikistan.

Tajikistan and Iran have traditionally close relations, sharing many similar cultural, religious and ethnic identifiers and Iran has been a major sponsor of essential hydropower infrastructure in Tajikistan, but Iran has angered Tajikistan by welcoming IRPT leader Muhiddin Kabiri, who is wanted by police in Tajikistan to face various terrorism charges.

Recall, Iran invited IRPT leader Muhiddin Kabiri to attend the International Islamic Unity Conference that took place in Tehran on December 27-29, 2015.

Tajikistan’s MFA said in a statement on December 29, 2015 that it was “greatly concerned” that “the head of the extremist and terrorist former IRPT, Muhiddin Kabiri, who faces charges of attempting to overthrow the government … has been invited to the conference.”

In April 2016, Tajikistan’s customs service introduced restrictions on the import of food products from Iran.  Dry leaf tea, poultry and other goods were ruled unacceptable for their allegedly poor quality.  In July 2016, the Tajik office of Iran’s Khomeini Imdod Committee, an international development fund, closed.  In early July this year, the Iranian trade and culture center in the Tajik northern city of Khujand, which was particularly appreciated for its library services and fast internet, closed its doors.  The shuttering reportedly came at the request of the Tajik authorities.

In August 2017, Tajik authorities have accused Iran of backing high-profile killings in Tajikistan during the Tajik civil war in the 1990s. In a documentary broadcast on Tajik national television on August 8, the Interior Ministry of Tajikistan claimed that Iran was allegedly interested in unleashing civil war in Tajikistan, and it allegedly provided assistance to the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) and trained its militants in Iranian territory.  The documentary also accused Iran of involvement in the murder of several Tajik social and political figures as well as 20 Russian military officers in the country during the 1990s Tajik civil war. The documentary further claimed that at the time, Iran had organized a plot to “eliminate Tajik scientists and intellectuals.

Iran’s Embassy in Dushanbe on August 9, 2017 released a statement, in which it dismisses “unfounded claims made in the documentary.”  The statement posted on the Embassy’s website, in particular, described such claims as ‘regrettable’ saying there is no doubt that the documentary’s producers will not be able to mar cultural bonds and historic friendship between the two nations of Iran and Tajikistan.

It added that the noble nation of Tajikistan will never forget that Iran as one of the main founders and guarantors of Tajikistan’s peace and host of talks between the country’s conflicting sides, has played a constructive role in ending Tajikistan’s civil wars in 1990.

News.tj

Author: Asia-Plus

1 January 2018

THE ALTERNATE HISTORY: “THE LAND BELOW GOD: A TAJIK TIMLINE” (4)

Due to the fact that nobody has posted a reply yet to the most recent update, I’ve decided to go ahead and make a map in regards to the factions coming into the upcoming riots. Please note that the factions themselves aren’t ‘set in stone’ and are really fluid in their beliefs (and example being the ‘moderates’, some being more nationalist, with others being in favour of the restructuring of the Communist party or perhaps even removing it from power).

Communists – Representing the ‘nomenklatura’, or the conservative and reactionary Communists of the old Brezhnev era, this faction is led in government by Isatullo Khayoyev (a position that has been hurt after caving and giving the Makhkamov-Rakhmonov bloc his support) and in public by the more-and-more popular Rakhman Nabiyev. This factions main support comes from the more industrialised, Russophone north with some support in the heavily Russian southern cities of Kalininabad and Dangara.

Moderates – With support coming mainly from the large cities of Dushanbe, Nurek and Navabad in the central-west and Khorugh in the east, this faction is a broad coalition of both Communist and non-Communists who wish to reform the current systems that had been put in place by the ‘nomenklatura’. Led in the Tajik government by Kakhar Makhkamov (who supports simply the base reforms of Perestroika and Glasnost) and Imomali Rakhmonov (who supports a far more liberal-nationalist agenda that is concerned with extending Tajik autonomy), the faction is further splintered by the popularity of Gennady Ubaydulloyev in the Soviet government (who supports the extension of Glasnost and Perestroika as well as arguing for more autonomy to the SSRs).

Nationalists – Led unofficially and loosely by the figures of the underground newspapers and political parties (including Rastokhez), the nationalists support a wholly independent approach to Tajik politics. Supporting the extension of autonomy or even the nation’s complete independence, this factions support comes mainly from the agricultural south of the nation (with its only major industrial support emanating from Qurghonteppa), as well as the more ethnically diverse towns towards the east (it’s members radicalised by the presence of minorities such as Pamiris and Kirghizis).

Pamiris – With support coming primarily out of the poor agricultural towns and small Pamiri-majority cities in the Gorno-Badakhshan Oblast, this faction supports the growth of autonomy of their Oblast, or even the complete independence of the Pamiri people. Having not come out in complete force as of yet (due to the current infighting between the Communists and Moderates), upcoming events would soon rock the region into ethnic instability.

Religious – The smallest of the current groups, the religious faction is a loosely led, loosely defined section of the Tajik SSR’s society and is by far the smallest. With support concentrated primarily in the rural towns on the Tajik-Afghan border (with members pocketed in agricultural regions throughout the country), it’s adherents support a move of the nation towards more religious based law (which in turn supports separation from the USSR), and is currently ‘led’ in the west by men such as the Sunni teacher, Sayid Abdulloh Nuri. In the eastern town of Iskashim, the Pamiri majority are currently protesting the government through the lens of local Shiite tradition (the Shiite branch of Islam being the majority among the Pamiri peoples).

I’m currently expecting the next update to be ready in about about a day, so please bare with me.

A Bitter Beginning (November to December 1989)

November 1 – After months of ‘spreading the word’ of God in an attempt to facilitate the growth of religious opposition to the Communist government, Sayid Abdulloh Nuri was attacked in the small town of Khonabad. Whilst walking the streets at night, several assailants stripped him of his clothes and beat him into unconsciousness in the process of stealing several pieces of jewellery he had with him at the time. Several days after the attack, Nuri would claim that those that brutalised him were a group of Communist youths.

November 3 – Despite the push against him by the Central Committee of the Tajik Communist Party earlier in the year, Gennady Ubaydulloyev received an unexpected endorsement of support by the recently appointed Central Committee member Imomali Rakhmonov. Speaking in the Supreme Soviet during a round of reformist debates, Rakhmonov claimed that the Tajik member for the Soviet Chamber of People’s Deputies was one of the most honourable statesmen in the Republic’s recent history, claiming that his call to push for more democracy shadowed his own. This statement sent a shock wave through the Central Committee members despite First Secretary Makhkamov’s assurance that he would retain all the positions recently granted to him.

November 5 – For the third time in the year, a band of over a dozen Afghan drug runners were caught attempting to cross the Panj River into the Pamiri city of Ishkashim. The captures came at a time of rising sectarian-fuelled violence between the underground drug (primarily opium) traders and a local religious vigilante group termed the ‘Fighters of the Soul’ by the national newspapers, a group whose members conducted several illegal raids on the smuggler’s compounds to the indignation of the local law enforcement.

Furthermore, moderates, reformists and nationalists in the city of Kulob came out in droves to protest recent restrictions of travel by the local Communist Secretary. In temporary measures officially meant to curb the recent trend of rising violence against the city’s minorities, restrictions were placed on the time streetcars and trains could be caught, as well as a prohibition on travelling throughout the densely populated, Uzbek and Pamiri majority regions of Kulob. During the protest, several buildings were smashed as a single Tajik was taken to the hospital in critical condition after being falsely identified as a Pamiri.

November 6 – In one of the most egregious acts of violence that occured during the latter half of 1989, three elderly Armenian men in Kolkhozabad were murdered in broad daylight by a group of radical Tajik nationalists. Shortly after losing their own home to a recent storm, the five family members (as they were believed to have been) latched onto recent rumours that the government was increasing the rate of Armenian settlement in the Republic and sought revenge against the next group that they saw, murdering the three elderly men with planks of wood and bricks, soon being arrested by the militsiya.

November 7 – During the annual celebration of the Great October Socialist Revolution, held with a commemorative (albeit minor) military parade in Dushanbe, several small violent confrontations break out among the more isolated crowds in the city. Despite the militsiya, military and KGB carefully overlooking the multitude to ensure that no member of the large group stepped ‘out of line’ or usher in a protest, several members of more isolated groups in the city were attacked during the law enforcement’s presence in the town centre. With dozens of Communists, moderates and nationalists facing the brunt of sectarian attacks over the course of the day, the watch force paid the violence no mind if only to ensure that it did not come anywhere near the primary, larger group of citizens attending the parade in the capital. During the march of soldiers, First Secretary Makhkamov made an appearance before his people to announce the recent allocation of housing funds that would go towards increasing build projects across the nation, a proclamation met with few cheers (due to the public’s distrust of their Communist government).

November 8 – Coming out after days of rising ethnic violence (of which he had originally believed to have been ended with pacts and legislation he passed over the past year), Kakhar Makhkamov is greeted by over ten thousand citizens in Dushanbe. Speaking out against the growth of violence against minority ethnic groups (paying particular attention to Pamiris and Armenians), the First Secretary made a strong request to his nation to remain united in ‘these troubled economic times’, assuring his constituency that no special privilege was being given to any group (an assurance few would grow to believe).

Meanwhile in Navabad, after a month and a half of existence the over 500 inaugural members of Rastokhez met to discuss the internal affairs of the party, primarily the party leadership. Over the course of the four ballots between the founders Tohir Abdujabbor and Mirbobo Mirrahim, the former was elected the party’s first leader on the basis of his prior political activities and his high profile nature. Bozor Sobir, while deciding to not run for the leadership position of his new-found party, choose to throw his support behind Abdujabbor whilst also announcing his candidacy for the upcoming February 1990 elections (in which he would run as an independent due to the fact that the Communist Party was the only ‘legal’ party in the nation).

November 9 – Whilst speaking before a crowd of thousands on the streets of Leninabad in the midst of the rising housing crisis, Rakhman Nabiyev was protested by a number of moderates and nationalists who opposed his call to returning the nation to his perceivably corrupt policies. During the movement of the reformists, several confrontations broke out between them and the Nabiyev supporters before the entire procession broke into open fighting in which even the former First Secretary was forced into. With the violence lasting well over an hour, Nabiyev returned to his stage to continue his speech after the militsiya had dispersed the protesters, a move that would receive a standing ovation from the crowd below.

November 10 – Internal tensions flared as Pamiri people clashed with local law enforcement in Vanj, the people of the city incensed at the growing violence of the Tajik people elsewhere in the nation. During their march down the town’s main street, they shouted out anti-government, anti-Communist slogans in the midst of traditional Pamiri saying, their ‘leader’, a popular local member of the town council Humayon Mulkomonov, chanting that the Tajik people held unfair control over the Gorno-Badakhshan Oblast. Following a brief confrontation with the militsiya in which over 50 marchers were injured, Mulkomonov was taken into the law’s custody.

Concurrently, after the report returned to Dushanbe following the extended defence talks in Moscow, the Committee for Tajik Defence (as well as the Tajik delegates to the Kremlin) finally announced that a breakthrough in diplomacy was being reached. Announcing that the Soviet government would be willing to increase military subsidies in the SSR if the Tajik government would be willing to increase private initiatives in regards to the industrial economy, the breakthrough came at a time in which the pay to many soldiers in the 202nd and 206th Motor Divisions were becoming less frequent.

November 12 – During an internal session of the Central Committee of the Tajik Communist Party, People’s Deputy Rakhmonov was given the floor for the first time after only two weeks in the congress. During his speech before the party’s highest ranking members, the Deputy Economic Minister called that the primary way to pull the nation out of economic spiral was the extension of the Kremlin’s Perestroika policies, and ‘perhaps even beyond them’. The presentation was met with applause by the reformists as Rakhmonov detailed the failures of the current closed-market system, primarily in pointing out the declining GDP per capita, which in 1989 stood at only 3,300 Soviet Roubles.

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A result of prolonged, disastrous economic policies by the Tajik government; many across the SSR were facing poverty and homelessness​

November 14 – During a housing march in the town of Hisor, members of the militsiya and KGB arrested several protesters after they retaliated against violence of three law enforcement officials. Having been attacked earlier in the day, several protesters surrounded the three members of the militsiya who had brutalised the marchers, beating them in a retaliatory attack that was later met with imprisonment and charges of assault.

November 15 – In the midst of continuing economic talks within the Central Committee sessions, the influential member of the Leninabad ‘nomenklatura’ and the then Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Council, Usmon Ghanievich Usmonov, stood up in front of the over-one hundred members of the Tajik government that composed of the Committee to proclaim his support behind Rakhmonov and his plans to extend Perestroika. Coming as a shock to the remaining conservative members of the SSR’s government due to Usmonov’s history as a perceived kleptocrat who ‘owned’ a number of leased properties around the nation, the Deputy Chairman proclaimed that the “only way forward for the nation was reform”.

November 18 – In one of the most shocking political events of the year, three days after the revelation that he would put his full support behind any reforms initiated by the Makhkamov government, Usmon Ghanievich Usmonov was found dead in his spacious Kulob apartment. Arriving home the previous day, an official government report detailing the death claimed that he had died from “self-inflected wounds” with an “abundance of medical chemicals” being found in his system, although Rakhmonov and his reformist/moderates expressed doubt in the validity of the story. Years later, a secretary of the Deputy Economic Minister would claim that Rakhmonov was paranoid that Makhkamov was eliminating those that would erode at his own power base, Usmonov included.

Meanwhile in Kalininabad and Dangara, Rakhman Nabiyev led a march of over a thousand anti-reformist, reactionary Communist members across the two towns. Chanting down the recent fall of support for the conservatives in the Tajik government as well as the economic and political reforms of Kakhar Makhkamov which they believed left the SSR far less safe in terms of homelessness, poverty, crime and general safety, ‘Nabiyev’s Men’ as the newspapers had dubbed them were slowly growing more and more restless and reckless in their more recent marches, with dozens of nationalists and moderates being injured over the course of the demonstrations.

November 20 – Almost four months after the founding of the first “economic commission”, the Central Committee advises the formation of a second, this time led wholly by the Ministry for Economy (Minister Qodi Soevich and his Deputy Rakhmonov) with oversight from the members of the Supreme Soviet and Central Committee. Being formed in the advent of Usmon Usmonov’s recent death, an event that fractured the government conservatives even more so than the recent resignation of Gaibnasar Pallayev, the moderates and reformists formed the major leading members on the economic commission and vowed to their followers that they would “force through their policies”.

November 21 – In the front of decreasing tensions throughout the capital over recent weeks, especially after the relatively calm Great October Socialist Revolution Day parade, graffiti was found covering the statue of Lenin in down town Dushanbe. Being one of the largest statues of the Communist leader in Central Asia, local law enforcement found it was covered in large nationalist slogans along with xenophobic mantras (including anti-Armenian and anti-Pamiri scribblings) which caused a backlash from the local right-wing of the Communist Party, the Chairman of the Dushanbe Council decrying the act as “spitting on the legacy of the greatest man in the past century”.

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The Lenin statue in Dushanbe, one of the largest in Central Asia​

November 23 – In the light of the recent strengthening of the moderates and reformists over the past two months, Interior Minister Sherali Makhkamov (not related to Kakhar Makhkamov) met an audience in Kulob to remember the death of his long-time friend Usmon Usmonov, as well as officially note his opposition to the reforms of his government, especially Imomali Rakhmonov’s reformists. Attended also by the Propaganda Minister Rashid Qutbuddinovich as well as the Minister of Public Education Talbak Nazarov, all of whom saw their images soon printed across Pravada as anti-reformism was slowly becoming more palatable to more of the Tajik citizens, the three men rallied around the small but radical Communist support in the town to deliver their message of opposition nationwide.

November 24 – In a brief session of the Central Committee, First Secretary Makhkamov fired back against the three dissident members who had recently seen the applause of hundreds of Kulob citizens. Attacking their inability to face the changes needed to help reform and rebuild the economy and society of the SSR, he further went into detail on how he would be willing to support any extension of the land-lease policy as directed by recently formed Soevich-Rakhmonov economic commission, as well increase public privatisation to see the Kremlin’s promised increase of military subsidies, all to the chagrin of the conservatives.

Meanwhile in Garm, the leading members of the Rastokhez party met in a local library to discuss the upcoming first party conference (set for December 14th), as well as publish a list of the over 100 inaugural members who they would be considering to run in the upcoming February elections. With Tohir Abdujabbor, Mirbobo Mirrahim and Bozor Sobir all included in the list of potential candidates (the latter having already announced his intention of running), the group had begun to plan a series of speeches and marches around the nation’s east to drum up support behind nationalism and reform, including a protest in Dushanbe in late-December that had argued would bring over ten thousand ‘young democrats’, moderates and reformists, to help them in the lead up to the ballot as well as erode the support of the communists.

November 26 – Internal tensions flared as this time religious temperaments saw to an anti-Kyrgyz, anti-Sunni riot in the Pamiri-majority town of Murgab. With some assailants having attacked the Kyrgyz whilst they were leaving their Sunni Mosque just outside the small town, brutalising them with knives and stones, the attacks came during a period of rising religious tensions in the east, especially in regards to the influx of Sunni majority Kyrgyz people into Shiite Pamiri communities. All attackers were eventually caught by the local militsiya, although they could not stop over a dozen members of the minority group from being injured.

November 28 – Despite days of silence on the matter, Rakhman Nabiyev finally made his appearance before Leninabad to discuss the massive rise of reformism in the Tajik Supreme Soviet and Central Committee, as well the status of both Isatullo Khayoyev and Usmon Usmonov. Despite decrying their ‘failure’ to effectively oppose the efforts of the Deputy Economic Minister and First Secretary, as well as the ‘weakening’ of all conservatives in the government, he argued that the reformists had blinded the reactionaries into submission, as well as saying that despite his capitulation to Imomali Rakhmonov, Usmonov’s death was one of the greatest blows to ‘true Communism’ in recent years.

Over 200km away in the city of Nurek, a housing protest slowly grew out of hand as homeless marchers met and fought a group of militsiya. Although it remains unknown on who started the confrontation, the small group of protesters numbering in the lower hundreds fought back violently against the law enforcement after they attempted to disperse of the group following a complaint by the local Communist members of the Nurek City Council and its Council Secretary. Ultimately sparking a short-lived riot in which five citizens saw their lives lost, the militsiya was able to successfully rein them in over a period of several hours, the time it took to capture the violent protesters later sparking more protests from locals.

November 29 – Following the raiding of another underground newspaper several nights previous in the city of Navavad, a number of reformist-moderate protesters marched out on the street of Dushanbe to decry the KGB and law enforcement for their “blatant infringement of the rights of Glasnost”. Furthermore, they called out in numbers to the ever more popular Rakhmonov in an appeal to the politician to help aid in their push for a more open, more liberal government, something the Deputy Economic Minister was less willing to proceed with than his push for extending Perestroika.

November 30 – Although they were not usually known for their nationalistic violence, several Kyrgyz workers in the northern town of Isfara were brutally beaten by a group of conservative Communists. Having planned the attack for weeks, the group preparing the violent ambush against the ‘foreigners’ after they were convinced they were handed their jobs in the local steel factory by the government whilst believing that Tajiks wouldn’t be granted the same opportunities, the Kyrgyz workers were left in critical states after being beaten with clubs and bricks.

December 2 – Following the call out by the conservative Communists in the Supreme Soviet and Central Committee to oppose government-led reforms, First Secretary Soibnazar Beknazarov of the Gorno-Badakhshan Oblast announced that he offer complete support to Makhkamov (for whom he had to thank for his current position, it being given to him due to a show of loyalty in the Supreme Council in 1987). Declaring that the all the ‘far-right’ Communists had to offer was sectarianism and division in the midst of troubled economic times, his words spoke to the moderates and pro-reformist population that served as the majority in his Oblast, further cementing his position after a year of increased economic support from the Soviet Union.

December 4 – The Tajik delegates originally sent to Moscow in May earlier in the year finally returned to their home nation with a full draft proposal drawn up by both themselves and members of the Defence Minister in the Kremlin. With the document granting the Tajik government the right to build several RSFSR-controlled military bases in towns across the Panj River border on a 20 year lease beginning in July 1990, the proposal also would allow for the increase of ‘controlled military subsidies’ (capped subsidies that would flow to the Tajik military every month) due for renewal every ten years. Furthermore, despite refusing to directly fund the increase of military industrial growth, the document did allow for the growth of private industry and the number of land-leased farms in exchange for the increase of industrial subsidies to government-owned farmland. The document was taken to the Minister of Defence Rahimov Saidovich and the Central Committee for debate and ratification.

December 6 – In an internal session of the Central Committee, First Secretary Makhkamov took to the floor to throw his full support behind the RSFSR-Tajik defence initiative after the introduction of the motion in the national legislature. Announcing that the motion would be the greatest compromise for all the factions within the fractured and sectionalised Communist Party, which would allow for the growth of the military industrial sector (something supported strongly by the conservatives in the Supreme Soviet and on the Central Committee), as well as allow for the growth of private industry (as a part of the moderate and reformist plans for the extension of Perestroika). The reactionaries in government, now ‘led’ by the Minister for Public Education Talbak Nazarov, announced that whilst they would not support the proposal without undue debate, they would not attempt to bare its passage through government.

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The Minister for Public Education, Talbak Nazarov​

December 7 – Following a violent private confrontation between the victims and the assailants, several stones are thrown through the window of an Armenian leased store in Qurghonteppa. Coming during a period of growing ethnic violence against minorities in the town in which Uzbeks, Armenians, Pamiris, Afghans and even Russians were attacked in several incidents across the SSR’s southern regions, the action of December 5 prompted several influential and local minorities to draft and post a petition to Qurghonteppa’s Communist city council requesting that they increase efforts to put an end to the nearly unceasing violence.

December 9 – On the first day of official debate regarding the joint Dushanbe-Moscow military and industrial proposal, the reactionaries and conservatives began to push back against the growing reformism in the Supreme Soviet with a united effort to shout down Deputy Economic Minister Imomali Rakhmonov during his speech in support of the Kremlin-backed initiative. Arguing that the radical increase of private land ownership would adversely affect those that already leased government-owned land, as well as decrease the availability of public assets that would otherwise be available to the government, the conservative leader Talbak Nazarov furthered his statement by stating that the Soviet government was also at fault by not “doing their duty” to protect the Panj River border without having forcing Gorbachev’s reforms on the nation.

Meanwhile in towns and cities such as Navabad, Garm, Obigarm and Chidara, the Rastokhez party finally began their nationwide electoral campaign with several campaigns throughout locations such as the aforementioned cities. Appearing in front of thousands of citizens across the several localities, members such as Mirbobo Mirrahim and Bozor Sobir made their high profile emergence to the field of politics, both men reading from a series of speeches written by the latter. In the addresses, the various members who made their public appearances on this day announced that they would offer full support to the reformists in the Tajik government, open the economy, seek more autonomy for their nation and protect every citizen of the country, a message that was well received by the nation’s youth.

December 10 – The first food riots begin as homeless citizens in areas affected by the January earthquake (as well as their supporters, the majority of which were conservative Communists) marched against the Central Committee and the Dushanbe Communists after food promised by the Makhkamov-government failed to arrive in both time or quantity assured to the populace. Chanting anti-government and anti-reformist slogans as they begged for support from the people of Hisor, Tursunzade and Yavan, the local governments (all loyal to the Central Committee in the capital) worked quickly to mobilize the militsiya in an attempt to disperse the crowds that began to form, effectively silencing them for the time being as they were moved back to the ‘temporary’ tent towns in which they lived.

December 11 – Continuing through the debates in the Supreme Soviet of the recent military proposals, the conservatives and anti-reformists carried on with their aggressive stance against further privatisation, First Secretary Makhkamov finally took to the floor during the time of vitriolic discussion, arguing that whilst the Tajik nation had to temper itself with privatisation and the land-lease system, the conservatives would finally be receiving the military spending increase that they had long fought for. The statement, whilst being taken by the most radical reformists in the Supreme Soviet and Central Committee as opposition to their plans to extend Perestroika, was ultimately supported by the moderate-reformist leader, Imomali Rakhmonov.

December 13 – Despite the increase of military spending (and therefore an increase of wage) being argued amongst the members of the Central Committee, hundreds of soldiers across military barracks on border towns such as Panj, Shuroabad, Kalaikhum and Kalot rise up against their superiors in displays of opposition to both the Soviet and Tajik governments. Being both young members of the 202nd and 206th Motor Divisions, those that grew into protest refused to follow even the most basic orders given by their leaders after many had to forgo pay for months. Indignation rose as some of the men even barricaded the gates leading to their compounds, sealing themselves off from replacements.

December 14 – After only three short months of existence, the Rastokhez party held their first nation congress in the city of Navabad in which over a thousand ‘members’ (unofficial due to the fact that there could be no other registered parties in the Tajik SSR besides the Communists) in attendance. Officially announcing a list of 185 candidates who would run in the upcoming elections as independents, the leader Tohir Abdujabbor made his first official appearance as leader of the party before a large audience, again stating the pro-reformist, pro-nationalist goals of Rastokhez whilst also attacking the ‘weak and divided’ Communists in an attack that received a standing ovation.

December 17 – After nearly a year of lack of food and the construction of new homes for those affected in the January earthquake, student protesters across the nation’s central region, especially those attending Dushanbe universities, moved out onto the streets together to protest the government’s inaction and failure to commit to the crisis’ that gripped the nation in one unified, coordinated effort. Acting quickly in an attempt to silence the movement before it grew too out of control, the Makhkamov-government sent in troops of militsiya to put an end to the action (or at least disperse the majority of the groups that numbered into their hundreds), failing as the protesters fought back against the law enforcement.

December 18 – Continuing on from the day previous, the student protesters came out again in force, this backed up by protesters of the Rastokhez party who had originally been planning their marches since October. Again calling out against the government due to its failures to end the spiralling economic condition of both the country and the Tajik citizens, they bellowed slogans that attacked their government and First Secretary Makhkamov, announcing their support behind even more radical economic and social reforms. During the march, several members of the crowd were taken into militsiya custody, however, the arrests didn’t deter the rest of the protesting community who continued to fight back.

Meanwhile in the military barracks across the south of the SSR, militsiya and draft replacements for the protesting soldiers began to meet in conflict as the demonstrating, a number of indignant soldiers continued to stand up against their generals and superiors, physically holding down the gates to their barracks or military compounds. In one incident in Kalot, one protesting soldier was shot to death in the process of throwing bricks at a replacement contingent that had just arrived, his comrades joining in the fight after his death resentful over his death, later sending a call out to newspapers and radio stations across the nation to continue to march against the “brutal oppression of the Communist government”.

December 19 – Across the nation, protests began to turn more and more violent as student protesters, moderates and reformists among them, were attacked (and attacked) the law enforcement and militsiya who were sent to finally disperse them after two days of near constant rising tensions. Meeting the demonstrators in the streets of Dushanbe, Kofarnikon, Obigarm, Navabad and Kulob (just to name a few), the law enforcement attempted to first peacefully see the crowd return home, but after the revelation of the incident at the Kalot barracks during midday, the protesters began to become far more defensive against dispersal attempts. Despite members of Rastokhez (including Bozor Sobir) urging the dissenters to find a peaceful solution, the student demonstrators began to throw projectiles at government forces as tensions began to boil over, the nationalists joining the opposition in droves following the news of further soldier-led resistance in barracks across the SSR.

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Students hurling projectiles at the Dushanbe militsiya​

Meantime in the Central Committee, the absence of several key conservative and reactionary Communists from the legislature during the beginning of the protests finally allowed the government to vote on whether or not the draft proposals for defence would be accepted. Led by First Secretary Makhkamov, the Supreme Soviet, Council and members of the Central Committee voted on a near-unanimous ballot to agree to the Kremlin’s proposals, although they declared that they would continue to strive for a raise in the level of capped-subsidies, stating that the extension of privatisation would do far more harm than good to the SSR’s economy.

Later on that night, the First Secretary appeared before the state-run television to announce before the cameras of his intentions regarding the protesters, both student, soldier, reformist and nationalists. Beginning by claiming that all opposition members of the government that were involved in the protests were “disrupting hard fought peace” that his government had slowly built up after the corruption of the Nabiyev-era, he went onto claim that they were planning to throw the entire state into disarray and tear the SSR away from the Soviet Union (which he had informed of his situation earlier in the day). He finished his statement by claiming that violence against law enforcement had grown far too out of hand, and that the militsiya would need to employ force to defeat the destabilizing threat “by any means necessary”.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Alternatehistory

By Michael Buchanan

Sep 26, 2014

 

Part 1: https://tajikopposition.com/2014/09/26/the-alternate-history-the-land-below-god-a-tajik-timline-1/

Part 2: https://tajikopposition.com/2014/09/28/the-alternate-history-the-land-below-god-a-tajik-timline-2/

 

Part 3: https://tajikopposition.com/2014/09/28/354/

Well, here is the next part. Whilst it took a bit longer than I wished (with that part being much longer than I originally intended), I hope any readers find this latest update to be interesting. The next part will come out sometime over the next two days, and will go into detail on the final days the years amidst growing riots, and will involve blood. Again, thanks for reading.

THE ALTERNATE HISTORY: “THE LAND BELOW GOD: A TAJIK TIMLINE” (3)

Tempers Flare (Late 1989)

July 2 – Brought about by the rising housing crisis caused by the rapidly inflating economic conditions that saw the government unable to build, refurbish or repair many buildings and homes damaged in the January earthquake. After over one hundred citizens of the town of Hisor marched behind the democratic reformist Vedar Guseynov and the Islamic nationalist Iraj Nabibi in an effort to protest the Communist government’s failure to provide adequate housing for the people how became homeless in the disaster’s aftermath, the marches were “put down” after mass police intervention stifled their calls against Kakhar Makhkamov and his Supreme Soviet.

July 7 – Urged on by the rising tide of nationalism across the nation, especially in the wake of recent protest in Hisor, a number of the more radical Tajik nationalist and Islamic groups and organisations begin a Republic-wide pogrom against Armenians. Prompted by the fear and rumours spread around that the SSR’s government was settling Armenians in public housing (ushered in following the anti-Armenian pogrom in Azerbaijan that forced the victims to flee to the Central Asian Republics), all whilst the average Tajik was not afforded the luxury of a home ‘forced’ the Tajik radicals rise up in a wave of violence that, over the ensuring weeks, saw several dozen Armenian families attacked and brutalised.

July 9 – After weeks of working within Soviet Chamber of People’s Deputies, primarily operating the phone lines in an attempt to bolster his connections to a number of the moderate Tajik democratic orginisations in his home Republic, Gennady Ubaydulloyev made an unexpected return to his representative nation in order to go on a popular tour of support. In his first speech in the city of Kofarnikon on the tarmac of the airport, he announced to reporters, newspapers and the world that he was planning to create a “national democratic movement” together with moderate reformist members of the opposition to check the overwhelming power of the conservative Communists in power.

July 13 – Following a week of relative calm in the wake of the first anti-Armenian attacks, one young boy and his father are found dead in their family apartment in Qurghonteppa. Despite the best efforts of the local police enforcement to find a culprit to the attacks and bring them to justice for the victims, no indication of the murderers were ever found beside anti-Armenian graffiti that mocked those that were killed.

July 17 – Taking time to respond to the recent calls for a “united democratic movement” by Gennady Ubaydulloyev, the Central Committee for the Tajik Communist Party finally responded to the press through the shrewd Secretary Rashid Qutbuddinovich. Using a common attack employed by the Soviet Communist governments against agitators, he called for the internal party unity over Ubaydulloyev’s ‘factionalism’ and decried the reformer’s lack of experience in Tajik affairs, having spent the previous four months in Moscow with a further seven year absence from the Republic during the mid-1980’s.

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Propaganda minister Rashid Qutbuddinovich​

July 20 – Ethnic violence gripped the town of Kazidi as a group of Tajik youths (who’s families emigrated to the town where their parents were transferred to work in the Gorno-Badakhshan mines) physically assaulted a young Pamiri female. After receiving the news of the violence, several families rose up in a swath of violence against the non-Pamiri minorities living within the region, precipitating brutal murders and beatings of primarily Tajiks in the eastern Oblast, go as far as to attack a number of Afghan refugees who had been settled into the town by the Tajik government.

July 27 – After being received well by large crowds in Kofarnikon and Nurek, Ubaydulloyev moves onto speak in the capital of Dushanbe for the first time in his life. Speaking in front of an audience of primarily young reformist minded men and women, the People’s Deputy rallied the large group of around 5,000 behind his call for an “united movement” against the deeply entrenched power of the conservative Communists, all whilst attempting to divert attention away from claims that he “wasn’t a true Tajik” as raised by Minister Qutbuddinovich. Instead, he claimed that his “blood was made of Tajik soil” and that the anti-reformist, anti-Glasnost Communists were planning to destroy any vestiges of nationalism from the people they administered.

July 29 – Continuing on from weeks’ worth of discussion on the failing economic policies of the Communist Party, the Central Committee of the Supreme Soviet authorises the formation of a government sponsored “economic commission”. Composed of several retired, “successful” ministers for finance from across a number of other SSRs and Oblasts in the USSR as well as members of the Tajik Supreme Soviet, it’s primary goal was to debate economic policy (under the guidance of the government) and offer recommendations on methods of controlling the spiralling economy. Imomali Rakhmonov was, against the wishes of many conservatives in the Supreme Soviet and Supreme Council, placed on the commission by First Secretary Makhkamov to quell the growing vocals of the reformists in Tajik legislature.

August 5 – Anti-Armenian violence continued to plague a number of large Tajik cities as radical nationalist Tajiks began to march in numbers against the perceived Armenian enemy. During once incident in Qurghonteppa (the hotbed for Tajik nationalism and Islamic traditionalism), a young Tajik couple was dragged out of their after a crowd of several dozen mistakenly pointed them out as Armenian, after which they were brutally beaten and left on the streets in critical condition.

Meanwhile in Dushanbe, a small protest held by four Pamiri shopkeepers as a means to bring attention to the current ethnic conflict enveloping the nation was brought to a halt after they were driven away from the town centre in which they were marching and beaten by a group of Tajik youths who proceeded to shout ethno-religious slurs against the group of men (the majority of Pamiri people follow the Shitte of Islam whilst the majority of Tajiks follow Sunni).

August 6 – The promise made by the Kremlin on January 19 begins to be met as the first of the new ground troops sworn by Moscow to reinforce the Panj River border arrived in Tajikistan. Composed primarily of the 206th Motor Division which arrived from the Kazakh SSR, the final deal in regards to the level of Soviet subsidization of the reinforcements and their garrisoning in the Tajik Republic would continue for the next few months whilst the Tajik military delegation for Moscow continued to debate with the heads of the Soviet army.

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Members of the Kazakh 206th Motor Division camping on the Tajik-Afghan border​

August 10 – Isatullo Khayoyev fired back against the slowly growing popularity of Ubaydulloyev through the official Tajik government paper, Kūpruk. In the editorial, the Chairmen of the Supreme Council fired against the reformist’s ‘unorthodox’ ideals, especially his pro-Glasnost beliefs and his willingness to go against the strength provided by “internal party unity”. He finished his editorial by claiming that Ubaydulloyev was a dissenter who posed a legitimate threat against Communism and the Tajik central government.

August 15 – After proposing a new method of lend-lease (then supported by Mikhail Gorbachev in the USSR-wide Supreme Soviet) that would allow for the increase of the size of land grants along with a softening of restrictions on who could hold the grants, Imomali Rakhmonov is ejected from the economic commission only weeks after it formed. Due to the conservatives in the Tajik Supreme Soviet pressuring Chairman Gaibnasar Pallayev to drop him whilst they wrote up an alternative list of economic recommendations that challenged the reformist Perestroika policies of Moscow, the young People’s Deputy remaining undeterred by the ejection as he begun to write his own suggestions for a new economic policy.

August 21 – Following a string of small scale violent attacks throughout the western regions of the Tajik SSR, the city of Kolkhozabad fell into looting and rioting after a Pamiri man retaliated against a Tajik aggressor who had threatened both him and his family. During the tide of violence, three ethnic Pamiris were murdered in broad daylight whilst the majority Tajik rioters marched through the town streets decrying the Tajik government’s “weak” stance against minorities in the Republic whilst brutalising them on the streets. By the time the Militsiya arrived, the crowd of over a thousand had been already been dispersed with several more being apprehended over the following fortnight. In total, 80 citizens had been captured with over a dozen minority victims being brutalised in the display of violence.

August 24 – In the wake of the mass wave of ethnically fueled violence displayed by his citizens, Kakhar Makhkamov, alongside several other leading Central Committee Communists begin a nationwide tour of the Gorno-Badakhshan Oblast following on from a suggestion from the autonomous region’s First Secretary Soibnazar Beknazarov. Planning out a number of high profile public displays and speeches in the region, the party believed that the tour would help smooth over sectarian and ethnically-fuelled conflict through the display of friendship.

August 29 – After going months without adequate pay, housing or food provisions, several dozen soldiers from the Kalot barracks rose up with a rallying cry against the government during a visit to their place of station by the Chairmen of the District Soviet in Gorno-Badakhshan, Yevgeny Tursunov. During the display, soldiers refused to back down when asked by their superiors to disperse and return to their barracks, marching in military order as they called for an increase in living conditions for soldiers across the entire autonomous oblast. Ultimately culminating after a group of soldiers began to chant the term “hudo” (or god in Tajik) as a derogitory slur in reference to Bozor Sobir’s “The Land Below God”, many returned to their position two days after the protest began, with continuing agitators being discharged.

August 31 – In a final public speech before returning to Moscow, Gennady Ubaydulloyev called out to the people of the Tajik SSR to embrace their cultural heritage in spite of the conservative Communists within the Central Committee and Dushnube, requesting that a popular movement for democracy should be pursued by the citizens of the Republic and that they must protect their freedoms granted to them by Glasnost and Perestroika, claiming that the Central Party Communists were “all too keen” to strip their rights away from them.

September 4 – Whilst ethnic tensions clawed their way through the major cities and population centres of the Republic, religious leaders began to make their appearances throughout the countryside in popular displays. Sayid Abdulloh Nuri, a popular Sunni figurehead of religious opposition to the Soviet government, rode on a wave of support shortly following his release from prison a year before to make a speech before the town of Shuroabad. In the speech, he requested that the people rediscover their faith in God and Islam, and peacefully protest their concerns against the Communist government, a position met with widespread appeal throughout the more religious southern regions of the SSR.

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Sayid Abdulloh Nuri speaking to a small Islamic group in 1982​

September 7 – Met with violence and opposition whilst marching through the streets of Leninabad, a Tajik nationalist is attacked by young members of the Communist party as he boastfully protested the Central Committee’s failure to end to epidemic of homelessness and poverty throughout the country. In the display, he carried a burning Tajik flag throughout the city’s main street whilst shouting down the government in Dushanbe before being driven away with rocks and bricks thrown by the pro-Communist population.

September 10 – Finally meeting with Soibnazar Beknazarov in Khorugh after half a month of public speeches in the cities of Rushan and Kalot, Makhkamov began talks with the Gorno-Badakhshan Oblast’s First Secretary on matters regarding the defence of the autonomous region’s border with the Afghan state, as well as internal policies regarding the enforcement of law during times of mass ethnic violence.

Meanwhile in Uroteppa in the north of the nation, the disgraced former First Secretary of the Tajik, SSR Rakhman Nabiyev (who had been forced from power after discovering his ties to the politically corrupt ministers in Kulob and Obigarm in 1985) was met with applause from the local populace after a year of relative silence. In his speech which attacked the growing popularity of reformers such as Gennady Ubaydulloyev to the growing poverty in the Republic and decried the Gorbachev reforms as an attack on the Soviet people as a whole. Despite being disgraced by his party publically, Nabiyev continued to be most popular in the Communist-majority north in towns such as Leninabad and Uroteppa.

September 14 – Following the continuing decline of the reformist-minded “Ru ba Ru” ‘political club’, intellectuals, popular reformists and members of the Tajik intelligentsia met in Dushanbe to discuss the possibility of an organised political party. In the conference hosted by Tohir Abdujabbor (an economist who had fell out with the Communists years earlier), Mirbobo Mirrahim (a democratic philosopher) and the poet Bozor Sobir, the 400 men in presence opted to found a new reformist-minded political party that focussed on the economic liberalisation of Perestroika and continued democratisation through the veil of Glasnost, as well as a platform of human rights, and equality for all citizens of Tajikistan regardless of ethnicity or religion. Named the “People’s Movement of Tajikistan in Support of Perestroika”, it would soon be given a new name by the underground newspapers; “Rastokhez”, or “Revival”.

September 18 – The conservative members on the economic commission present their draft policy for economic reforms to the Chairman of the Supreme Council and interim-head of the Central Committee (whilst Makhkamov was in the east), Isatullo Khayoyev, as well as the Chairman Gaibnasar Pallayev. Both conservative Communists and members of the Tajik nomenklatura, both men sent the draft proposals through a simple “review” commission over a period of only a few days in an attempt to present the fiscal policy changes to the Supreme Soviet before the First Secretary arrived back in Dushanbe (who they believed wouldn’t support their roll-back of economic reforms). Some of the major changes proposed by the commission were the tightening of land-lease procedure in which only others who were chosen by the Central Committee would be liable to lease the government-owned land, as well as plans to strengthen and grow the current agricultural sector through extensive use of Soviet subsidization.

September 21 – Eleven days after their first meeting in Khorugh, the First Secretaries of the Tajik SSR and Gorno-Badakhshan ASSR finally make a surprise appearance in a controlled public forum. The two men taking questions from the Pamiri people in the crowd, the session slowly turned against the two men as the more radical members of the city slowly built up around the building in which the population started chanting nationalist Pamiri slogans with some calls for the independence of the eastern region. Ultimately cultivating after one member of the crowd hurled a brick through the large glass window of the building that hosted the forum, the local militsiya moved quick to disperse the crowd before it grew out of hand.

September 25 – Finally reaching the conclusion that greater steps to public safety must be met with more defensive initiatives, the two First Secretaries agree to a joint-law enforcing pact that would allow both Republic’s militsiya to use greater force in the dispersal of crowds that would be deemed “dangerous to public security and peace”, as well as the greater sharing of natural resources by government law enforcement.

September 28 – Following weeks of discussion and review, the Supreme Soviet of the Tajik SSR meets in Dushanbe for one final round of debate between the members of the government in regards to the policies put forward by the conservative economic commission. During the extended discussion, moderates and supporters of Perestroika attacked the proposed plans to reel-back Soviet-wide reforms in the small Republic, all whilst claiming that only policies opening the economy with less reliance on Soviet aid could raise the nation out of its spiralling economic position.

September 29 – Continuing through to another day of debate in the Tajik government, People’s Deputy Imomali Rakhmonov made a rousing speech before his peers on the Supreme Soviet and Supreme Council in a call to the moderates and reformists to oppose the economic commission and conservatives in the Communist party, claiming that their reliance on the Soviet (primarily the Russian SFSR) government was placing the Tajik SSR in a weaker position compared to its neighbours, and made an announcement that he and his allies across the nation (primarily those in the more moderate cities of Hisor, Nurek, Obigarm and Navabad) would do everything in their power to block Isatullo Khayoyev, Gaibnasar Pallayev and ‘their’ Central Committee from passing their proposal before Kakhar Makhkamov arrived back in the capital.

Meanwhile in Garm and Jirgatal’, hundreds of protesters marched through the streets demanding the deportation of all Armenian citizens within the Tajik SSR, as well as the complete split of the Pamiri regions (primarily the Gorno-Badakhshan ASSR) from the Republic. During the radical display, members of the protesting crowd carried out violence against the relatively large (eight and thirteen percent in Garm and Jirgatal’ respectively) Pamiri population in both cities, resulting in the deaths of six citizens over the weekend.

September 30 – On the third day of counting economic debate in government, the moderates and reformists in the Tajik Communist Party, including those that were placed on the Central Committee led a boycott of the numerous conservatives that controlled the Supreme Soviet, but not the Supreme Council. In their display of opposition to their government’s reactionary positions, they refused to allow the conservative members of the Central Committee to leave the Soviet building (by forcing the doors to remain closed on the meeting room) until a compromise between the factions could be met whilst the First Secretary was returning to Dushanbe.

October 1 – After an entire night of being trapped within the capital building during the moderate’s boycott, during which time small scale violence between People’s Deputies broke out in the midst of the hostile debates, First Secretary Makhkamov finally touched down in his nation’s capital after a month in the east. After making his way to the government building and being ushered inside along with the seventeen other People’s Deputies that had travelled along with him, he found the Supreme Soviet to be in deadlock and the Central Committee fractured.

Despite receiving reports of the economic commissions conservative plans for the nation, as well as their intention to vote on the proposals in government, he had received assurances from that wing of the party that they would wait for his return to Dushanbe before holding the ballot. Furious at their betrayal of confidence, the First Secretary of the nation and General Secretary of the nation’s Communist Party ultimately decided to side with the pro-Rakhmonov faction of moderates, forcing many who had been members of the conservative faction to bolt and join his side. After a complete review the economic policies raised by reactionaries in his party, he ultimately announced his intentions to block the conservatives from passing their agenda through national legislature, calling them “corrupt vestiges of the Rakhman Nabiyev government” that threatened to tear apart both his and the Soviet governments reforms.

As a result of his ideological shift towards the moderates, outright violence flared up in the Supreme Soviet as dozens of People’s Deputies (including Rakhmonov) were forced into the centre of fighting in which a number of ministers were knocked unconcious or were left bleeding. It took over half an hour before the violence finally began to subside, the First Secretary finally allowing all ministers to take their leave after days of exhausting debate.

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The outbreak of fighting in the Tajik Supreme Soviet​

October 4 – Three days after the outbreak of violence in the Tajik Supreme Soviet, newspapers (both legal and underground) began to run stories detailing the events surrounding the internal party fight and the People’s Deputies and ministers who partook in the violence. With several underground newspapers (moderate, reformist or nationalist) taking the side of the Rakhmonov-led opposition whilst Communist publications such as the Tajik branch of Pravda took the side of the conservatives, the events became a major rallying point for opposition to the perceived reactionary nature of the government (primarily Isatullo Khayoyev and Gaibnasar Pallayev).

October 6 – After the five day period of withdrawal from government, members of both the Supreme Soviet and Council converge again on the capital. Despite the moderates (along with their reformist and nationalist allies) the now largest faction within the Tajik government, the conservatives and reactionaries attempt one final push to deprive their opponents of power; an attemptive inter-party coup. During the middle of renewed economic debates, Gaibnasar Pallayev raised to his feet claiming that First Secretary Makhkamov was unable to run the nation due to the fact that he had severed the Communist party through factionalism in an attempt to froce him to region, launching himself into a last desperate attempt to win over those in the centre, he claimed that their leader was at the centre of corruption during the mid-1980’s at that he had bribed his way into power. The attempt ultimately failed, the more numerous moderates, led by Makhkamov and Rakhmonov shouted down the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet, later closing the meeting down for the day with the conservatives in disarray and disgrace.

October 7 – Following on from the success of his “The Land Under God” short story, Bozor Sobir, with aide from his moderate supporters in Rastokhez publish another story throughout the nation in both the above, and underground newspapers. This time dealing with the complete history of the Tajik people, he puts forth arguments surrounding the faults and failures of the Communist Party and its failure to bring it’s ‘workers’ paradise’ in the seventy years of control it had had of the the nation. Ultimately, it would prove to be the old man’s greatest and most well-known narrative, being printed in abundance throughout even the Communist-majority regions of the nation.

October 10 – Sectarianism rose in the town of Khovaling overnight as several groups of extreme nationalist Tajik men broke into the homes of suspected minorities to rob and beat the occupants. Officially owned by the Tajik SSR, the houses saw several pieces of valuable jewellery and other government supplies stolen from the dwellings as the less fortunate victims were attacks by the unknown assailants in an attempt to protect their property.

October 12 – Twelve days after the major fighting in the government and six after his attempt to win over centrists in his endeavour to force the First Secretary to resign, the Central Committee of the Tajik Communist Party, now thoroughly controlled by Kakhar Makhkamov, raised a notion in the Supreme Soviet to force it’s Chairman Gaibnasar Pallayev to step down from his position. In a massive vote favouring the leading moderate government after little debate, the elderly Pallayev who had served his position as head of the Supreme Soviet for five years was forced to resign from his post. Chairman Isatullo Khayoyev on the other hand did not have a similar request raised about him in the Supreme Council, despite his support of the conservatives during the late-September debates after he put his full support behind the First Secretary’s decision to drop Pallayev.

October 17 – Rising out of a number of recent popular speeches broadcast across the north of the nation, Rakhman Nabiyev made a vitriolic address to over 7,500 citizens in Leninabad decrying the recent events in Dushanbe regarding the conservative Communists in government, claiming that with Pallayev removed and Khayoyev weakened, the Supreme Soviet and the Party’s Central Committee was free to pass any “damaging reform” that it now pleased, including the opening of the nation to the hated foreign ethnic groups such as Armenians and Uzbeks.

October 21 – Word from the Kremlin in regards to the proposals raised by the Select Committee for Tajik Defence and the SSR’s military delegation to Moscow finally reached back to Dushanbe. After five months away from their home nation, the delegates claimed that the talks with Kremlin officials and leading Soviet military men were finally reaching a conclusion regarding the allocation of funds requested to defend the Panj River and bolster the internal growth of military industry and infrastructure. In their report, they claimed that whilst the RSFSR could not grant them intermediate funds to subsidize their plans for defence, they would be able to do so on a monthly basis, allowing for the slow growth of the internal military, even if the offered funds were far less than what was originally asked.

October 23 – Original plans for a large military parade in Dushanbe to commemorate the Great October Socialist Revolution are discarded in favour of a less expensive affair. Following on from housing protests in western cities such as Hisor and Tursunzade, as well as communities damaged by the January earthquake (many of the post-disaster houses promised by the government having not even begun the process of being built), the Central Committee and the government intelligentsia cut the more expensive programs from the parade in an attempt to appease the populace by funnelling the money into the housing projects (an often inefficient process).

October 28 – Following the pressure by his reformist-moderate faction towards the First Secretary Makhkamov, Imomali Rakhmonov was elected by the Tajik leader to the position of Deputy Minister for the Economy so he could serve on the Central Committee. Growing in popularity across the entire nation after his vocal opposition to the conservative faction only a month before, as well as his support of Perestroika (popular with many of the nation’s younger generations living in the large cities), the young Rakhmonov’s growing power would soon prove a problem for even his moderates on the Supreme Soviet and Council.

October 31 – Following the cooling of violence and deaths across the SSR, ethnic violence sprung up once again in the south-west of the nation, primarily in Kolkhozabad, Qurghonteppa and Kulob where thousands of citizens marched out onto the streets in opposition to the moderate government’s perceived stance on minorities. Attacking Pamiris, Uzbeks and even Russians, the ethnic Tajik people who carried out the attack were swiftly dispersed or arrested by the militsiya in compliance with the defence pact signed by Makhkamov on September 25. However, the damage was done as the final ‘official’ death tally of the violent protests was placed at thirteen (a total that would have been much higher), which ultimately sent shock waves through the entire Republic serving to radicalise more citizens of the small SSR.

However, despite the violence that had begun to spring up during the beginning of the latter half of 1989, the worst period of violence of these troubled times was still yet to come.

The Alternatehistory

 

By Michael Buchanan

 

Sep

26, 2014

* * * * * * * * * *

 

Well, that took far longer than I originally intended (I write pretty sluggishly most of the time), but here it is. With the next few parts due out over the coming week or so which will detail the upcoming nationwide riots, I want to know how you all think this timeline is going so far and what I could do to improve it. Thank you for reading.

Part 1: https://tajikopposition.com/2014/09/26/the-alternate-history-the-land-below-god-a-tajik-timline-1/

Part 2: https://tajikopposition.com/2014/09/28/the-alternate-history-the-land-below-god-a-tajik-timline-2/

THE ALTERNATE HISTORY: “THE LAND BELOW GOD: A TAJIK TIMLINE” (2)

Part I – Prelude (continued)

The Slow Rot (Early 1989)

January 10 – Following his monumental rise to the Oblast Committee of the regional Communist Party branch in the autonomous Gorno-Badakhshan Oblast only two years earlier, First Secretary Soibnazar Beknazarov announces plans for the expansion/construction of a RSFSR-controlled military base in the small town of Vhrang on the Tajik-Afghan border. The move is prompted by the expansion of government aid and subsidies to the remarkably poor region.

January 14 – The General Secretary for the Tajik Communist Party (KPT), Kakhar Makhkamov, met with the Soviet Colonel Aleksandr Shishlyannikov (speaking as a Moscow intermediary) during extended talks to expand the Soviet military presence in the Tajik SSR and bolster a defensive line along the Panj River. The talks came during a period of heightened Muhjihadeen activity along the river tributary, as well as increased casualties during the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

January 19 – Makhkamov and the Kremlin reach an agreement on the level of military build up within the Republic, the estimated 25,000 to 45,000 more soldiers requested by the Tajik leader needed to defend the USSR against Afghan reprisals and terrorist attacks being granted by government in Moscow.

January 23 – Following the Armenian Earthquake only one month prior, an earthquake measuring as a magnitude of six on the Richter scale (seven by the Soviet scale) rocked several small villages only 30km south-west of the nation’s capital in Dushanbe. Official reports from Tass place the initial death toll as high as one thousand, with the small village of Sharora being reportedly buried under several meters of clay released during the landslides caused by the quake.

January 29 – Following an extensive and expensive clean-up operation of the more severely struck regions, official government reports place the earthquake death toll at around 300 (later amended to a grand total of 274). All documents relating to the number of homes destroyed or people displaced are not revealed for another year.

February 10 – An internal (intermittent) report issued by the Soviet Government to the Tajik Communist Party place the number of dead “drafted responders” (labourers forced by the Tajik local government to support the clean-up efforts in earthquake devastated towns) is placed at around thirty.

February 11 – In the Tajik Supreme Soviet (the highest ‘national’ authority in the Tajik SSR), the little known reformist People’s Deputy Rastin Yermakov, a first generation descendant of Russian immigrants to the region, drunkly raised to his feet during a meeting of the Supreme Council to advance a notion of independence from the Soviet Union. Whilst he was forced to promptly resign his position shortly after the display as well as ridiculed in the official Tajik government newspaper Kūpruk, his display was lauded and admired in a number of non-government newspapers, especially those in the reformist underground.

February 14 – The independent underground newspaper Tuf Kardan releases the poem “My Brother in Nahrain” by poet and social critic Bozor Sobir to popular (albeit unorthodox) appeal. Using the pseudonym “Fayzulla Khodzhay”, the poet published his work as a rallying cry against perceived Soviet aggression against the Tajik’s “brothers” in Afghanistan.

O, Afghan nightingale of Vatan, Motherland doesn’t die,
Your singing restores life of her essence,
Still the song is coming from your bleeding throat,
You are in me, until the end of times, until the end of times,
until the end of times…

Another popular Tajik-Afghan poem from the time, “To the Nation that Gave Birth to Ahmad Zohir”​

February 16 – Following the complete withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan the previous day, the Chairman of the Tajik Supreme Soviet, Gaibnasar Pallayev, begins drafting plans for the defence of the Panj River against Islamic militants from the nation to their south. Along with several other members of the Communist Tajik nomenklatura and high ranking Soviet military men (all together forming the “Select Committee for Tajik Defense”), they began to plan for the eventual building of a defensive waterway structure that would allow to constant surveillance of the Tajik-Afghan border.

February 20 – Gennady Ubaydulloyev, a Communist with reformist ideals and a candidacy in the upcoming Soviet wide legislative election for a Tajik seat visits earthquake devastated regions in Tajikistan on the eve of a SSR-wide campaign to widespread popular support. Despite public dissatisfaction with the Communist party in the Kremlin, Ubaydulloyev (who is half-Tajik) gave the people renewed hope in Tajikistan for greater future representation in the Soviet government.

February 25 – Ubaydulloyev receives a crowd of over 10,000 whilst speaking in the city of Garm. Speaking from the city’s small football stadium (that would usually only hold a maximum of 2,500 people), the Tajik candidate caled for the people to rally behind Soviet-wide, Gorbachev-led market and social reforms of Perestroika and Glasnost. As a result of tight police standards in the Tajik SSR compared to many other Republics in the union, over one hundred people deemed to have committed “violent and socially unacceptable behaviour” during the speech are arrested shortly after leaving the stadium.

February 27 – The Tajik branch of the national Pravda newspaper publishes official government results of the 1989 Soviet Census. In Tajikistan, the national adult literacy rates had grown significantly from just a decade before, jumping up almost five percent to a total of 98.2%. Language was also front-and-centre in the SSR, with 31% of the Republic’s 62% Tajik population having reported to speak the Russian language “fluently”, down from a its height of 38% fifteen years prior.

March 5 – Remaining unreported at the time, several Pamiri labourers in the rural village of Hahnkar within the Gorno-Badakhshan Oblast begin a silent two day protest against the Communist Government. Chaining themselves to a wooden pole at the centre of the several houses that composed of the town, they claimed they were fighting against the unjust Tajik majority ruling from Dushanbe before local law enforcement came and seized them.

Meanwhile, in a confidential meeting between the Communist Party candidates for the Tajik SSR in the legislative elections, a near unanimous vote saw the candidate for the Rasht Valley region, the young Ravshan Shadmanov, become the leader of the group for the upcoming elections and the “face” of their electoral campaign.

March 11 – Despite calls from the Tajik Supreme Soviet against the decision, thousands of roubles used to subsidize the SSR are pulled by the Kremlin in order to enhance defensive measures in the nation, especially with the calls of several Soviet-Tajik military generals to do so in the wake of the secret talks within the Select Committee for Tajik Defence. Five radical members of the Tajik Soviet were forced from the room during a meeting regarding the budget cuts after they called for the embargo of several areas of the SSR’s production (primarily cotton) from the rest of the Union.

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A meeting of Communist Party leaders in the Tajik SSR, circa 1990​

March 13 – During a live speech session in Qurghonteppa to the south the Republic’s capital, Gennady Ubaydulloyev is physically assaulted as a group of communist youths throw bricks and stones against him and his constituency. The event ultimately spiralled out of control as more supporters of either the Communist or the reformers clashed in the streets, several by-standers having to be taken to the hospital after being caught in the crossfire. After several minutes of fighting, law enforcement arrived and broke up the melee, having to tow Ubaydulloyev himself away after he became entangled in the brawl.

March 16 – Despite the legislation not being formally implemented until several days following the passage of legislation, hundreds of members of the Tajik “new rich” and the national nomenklatura line up to lease state-owned farms in the fertile regions of the Republic. A conservative member of the SSR’s Supreme Soviet, Goudarz Kakharov, became the first in the Republic to receive the lifetime-long lease in Tajikistan after being granted the rights to a 20 hectare (0.20 km² or 50 acres) cotton farm.

March 19 – The Select Committee for Tajik Defence draws up their final suggested plans for the defensive line along the Tajik-Afghan border, posting them to the Kremlin and the heads of the Soviet military. The main proposals raised in the document advanced the idea of a ‘native continent’; several purely Tajik division of Soviet military manning the defensive lines along the Panj River. Further proposals advanced by the committee called for the introduction of further military bases and air fields in Tajikistan, as well as increased subsidies towards industrial growth in the region at the expense of government aide towards the lucrative but outdated cotton and cereal cultivation that dominated the SSR.

March 22 – After resigning from his post as Chairman of the Union Committee of the collective farm in Dangara one year prior, the small time native Tajik poltician Imomali Rakhmonov announced his intention before the Communist Party to run in the upcoming caucus-election to decide who would take up the empty seat in the Tajik Supreme Council (the lower organ to the Republic’s Supreme Soviet) left by Rastin Yermakov. Aged only 41, he had an intelligence unmatched by most in the SSR’s government, but held fragile loyalties that swung between Communism and Nationalism, something noted during his time as the Chairman of the Union Committee.

March 24 – Following the publishing of “My Brother in Nahrain” in Tuf Kardan only a month prior, Bozor Sobir once again managed to published one of his works, this time his short story “The Land Below God” which he ensured would print in a number of the ‘underground newspapers’ that circulated during his time. Detailing the brutalising life sustained by the Central Asian people underneath the Soviet Union (or ‘God’ as it’s referred to in the story) and calls upon Tajik readers to turn away from the USSR and towards an independent future, all whilst imploring them to never forget their cultural past. As a result of mass publication, the short story became a instant sensation amongst the quiet reformists and nationalists.

March 27 – In the 1989 Soviet legislative election in the Tajik SSR, the Communist Party (as they had done everywhere else in the USSR during the election) won an overwhelming majority in the newly formed pan-Soviet Union Congress of People’s Deputies against far less mobilized independent candidates. With 50 seats in the Tajik SSR reserved for the Communists, they won a further thrity-two through the democratic process, with nine of the seventeen ‘representative seats’ going to the party, with another twenty-three being won from the pool of seats allocated to go towards the ‘Soviet of Nationalities’ (where there was an equal number of deputies for each of the fifteen Union Republics and Autonomous Regions; thirty-two for each republic and five for the autonomous oblasts). Gennady Ubaydulloyev was one of these winning Communist candidates, having won his district with a close 51.3% margin.

The independents on the other hand received their first seats in Soviet history as the people of the Tajik SSR democratically voted for their leaders for the first time in history. Despite only attaining 21.5% of the votes Republic-wide, the still managed to win a total of 22 seats, the now independent People’s Deputies winning eight of the seventeen ballots for the ‘representative seats’ with fourteen going towards a position in the ‘Soviet of Nationalities’. Interestingly, all four representatives coming from Pamiri majority regions of the eastern Gorno-Badakhshan Oblast were independent nationalists.

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The results of the 1989 legislative election in the Tajik SSR​

March 28 – In a shocking display of rising ethnic tensions between the eastern Pamiri and western Tajik peoples, a murder was carried out during the dusk in the city of Vanj by a Pamiri man against his Tajik victim. As a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, the offender used a bayonet he had been granted following his discharge from the military to stab the victim 27 times before leaving him on the streets to be discovered later that night. Following his arrest and prosecution (in which he received 30 years hard labour), he claimed he had carried out the murder as a “show for independence” against the Tajik government in the wake of the Communist’s recent victory.

April 3 – Following the publication of the brutal murder of a Tajik in a number of the underground pro-independence and pro-Tajik newspapers in cities such as Karvograd, Dashtishur and Wakhio only days after the event occured, short-lived, yet fierce and deadlu ethnic violence flared up in the Tajik SSR. Over the ensuring hours and days, citizens of non-Tajik ethnicity were attacked as ethnic tensions flared across the country, the majority of those brutalised being Pamiris (with a number of Uzbeks also facing a number of extreme, unprovoked attacks).

April 10 – In the wake of increasingly violent and unsolvable attacks, murders and other crimes targeting non-Tajik minorities, Kakhar Makhkamov agreed to a plan raised in the Tajik Supreme Soviet to further bolster the security of the state by implementing more lenient policies regarding law enforcement. From the normal police to the KBG, all government bodies that “executed the will of the people’s laws” would be granted special rights in regards to questioning suspects and the search and seizure of property.

April 13 – After publishing Bozor Sobir “The Land Bellow God” in one of their more recent editions, the illegal underground newspaper Noranҷ is shut down by the KBG working in tandem with local Tajik law enforcement after the location of their Ayni-based operation was leaked to the latter law orginisation.

April 16 – In response to the raised laws, several moderate members of the SSR’s Supreme Soviet and Supreme Council banded together to fight back. In a special committee meeting in which all members of the Tajik government were seated, fifteen men of the overarching government council proclaimed themselves to be ‘Representatives of the People’, furiously debating and filibustering the move as a means to destroy Perestroika and Glasnost. Following one particular incident in which one ‘representative’ slammed his fist down on the table so hard as to break it, the entire group of moderates were removed, effectively ending the debate.

April 17 – Only a week after being raised in the Supreme Soviet, the Tajik legislature passed the new security law during as ethnic tensions grew more and more intemperate by the day, several Tajiks in the Gorno-Badakhshan Oblast being killed in reprisal attacks in cities such as the capital Khorugh, as well as Kudara and Vir, going as far east as the city of Shaymak which saw one Tajik speaker lynched during the night. With one signature, First Secretary Kakhar Makhkamov placed his seal of approval on the new laws.

April 26 – After a week of relative peace in the wake of cooling internal ethnic conflict and the passage of new security laws, several smugglers from Afghanistan were captured attempting to swim north across the Panj River border. Apparently attempting to smuggle opium into the nation to sell or barter in one of the thousands of underground Tajik markets, the event sent shock waves through the high ranking members of the Communist Party. Due to the lack of border security, with the recommendations given by the Select Committee for Tajik Defence still being debated and muled over by the top brass in the Kremlin, the Supreme Soviet began to pressure their overarching Soviet government to grant them more power regarding the placement of troops within the Tajik border, as well as the building of military fortifications and bases.

April 30 – After defeating his opponents in the first round of inter-party voting, Imomali Rakhmonov moves on to the second round of voting in the election for a seat on the Supreme Council. With the support of the party behind him, he was going to be placing himself off against the independent Pamiri candidate, Tursun Bahksharov.

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A young Rakhmonov during his years as Chairman of the Union Committee​

May 3 – Emergency funding promised by the Uzbek, Turkmen and Kyrgz SSR’s in response to the January earthquake finally begins to arrive in short, small monetary packages. Originally promised by the the SSR’s First Secretaries on a swift delivery of the medical and monetary aide for February, the failing economy forced them to stay their hands. As a result, the slow flow of the aid provided by the Tajiks neighbours and Union allies could not see its way into the nation in time for the major clean-up, and only supported them during the building of “temporary” shelters for the homeless.

May 6 – Following a short period of calm after the introduction of the new security laws, ethnic tensions began to once again simmer after the mysterious death of a high profile, land-leasing Tajik in the “Pamiri capital” of Khorugh. Short, yet violent reprisals begun to flare up again in Dushanbe which would ultimately continue, intermediately, throughout the rest of the year.

May 11 – Prompted by yet another Tajik death at the hands of ethnic violence and the growth of “home rule” in several other SSR’s across the Soviet Union, primarily those in Central Asia, Kakhar Makhkamov moved quickly within the Supreme Soviet to pass legislation that would ensure that Tajik majority would not flare up in another violent display that would bring the eyes of the Kremlin down on his administration. Together with chairman of the Council of Ministers (head of the Supreme Council) Isatullo Khayoyev, he ensured the swift passage of legislation that would make the Tajik language official within the Republic.

May 17 – After the quick adoption of Tajik as the official language within Tajikistan, the Kremlin responded with authorisation to do so, further responding to the first a number of the recommendations raised by the Select Committee for Tajik Defence, agreeing that further defensive structures were needed along the Panj River, and asked a Tajik delegation to be sent to Moscow to ensure that official talks could begin to get under way.

May 20 – Large graffiti detailing the deaths of “Communist soldiers”, as well as the resurrection of the early-20th century anti-revolutionary and anti-Bolshevik Basmachi movement, is found plastered across several buildings in downtime Dushanbe. Coming in the wake of several other days in which anti-Communist and pro-Islamic graffiti began to sprout up around the large cities, “hooligans” in the reform movement were beginning to be chased down by authorities with the backing of the Supreme Soviet in an effort to both deter the acts of graffiti and prosecute members of aforementioned movement.

May 21 – After the call for delegates from the Tajik SSR to meet in Moscow to discuss the proposed changes to defence in the nation, primarily along the Panj River border, the Supreme Soviet of the Republic sent their delegation team to meet with the Soviet military leaders in the Kremlin to broker a deal in regards to the proposed changes.

May 28 – After two months of preparation and recounts, the pan-Soviet Chamber of People’s Deputies opens on live television across the USSR. From Estonia to Turkmenistan, men and women of the Soviet Union take days of school and work to see for the first time their elected officials in government, the Tajik people watching as the plethora of Communists and Independents they sent to Moscow took to their seats in history.

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The moderate Communist Tajik delegation during their time in the Chamber, Gennady Ubaydulloyev seated in the center​

June 2 – After months of speculation, the people of the city of Obigarm and its surrounding villages met to decide whether or not Imomali Rakhmonov would take Rastin Yermakov’s empty seat on the Supreme Council. With a overwhelming majority in favour (87.4% in fact), Rakhmonov had played his constituents fears over his Pamiri opponent so well that he successfully rose to a position of government in his nation to the support of thousands of Communists who came out to elect him into office.

June 9 – After months of preparation and production, First Secretary Soibnazar Beknazarov of the Gorno-Badakhshan Oblast oversaw the beginning of the building of the Russian-controlled Vhrang Military Base, with ten thousand makeshift tents being produced and brought into the town as a temporary residence of the relocating soldiers. Phase two of the building operation (the construction of concrete buildings, gates and other defensive architecture) was not scheduled to begin until around mid-year 1990.

June 14 – After months of remaining silent in the wake of the KGB/police raid on the Noranҷ newspaper headquarters, Bozor Sobir appears in public to speak to an audience for the first time. Reading out of a number of his works, he primarily read the first chapter of his most recent short story in an effort to stir opposition to the Communist Government.

June 19 – After the arrival of the Tajik delegation for Moscow, the government in the Kremlin and the military leaders who were in the process of reviewing the Tajik Defence recommendations returned the second document in regards to the actions they put forward. Primarily focusing on the increased military subsidization of the local Soviet-Tajik military, they rejected the notation reminding the Supreme Soviet in Dushanbe of the failing economic conditions across the entire USSR that left budgeting Moscow ever more tight.

June 23 – Following the publishing of the 1989 census coupled with all available economic documents, the Supreme Soviet and Supreme Council of Tajikistan handed around confidential records regarding the recent stagnation of the internal economy. With inflation rising ever father as the months wore on, the power of the Soviet Rouble had waned by mid-1989, the Tajik SSR itself sitting on a GDP overall of a little under 1,500 roubles, by far the weakest of all the Soviet Republics.

June 29 – In response to internal publication of the economic documents, the Communist Party begun a series of meetings and reviews of the recent failure and utter stagnation of the internal Tajik economy. With no end to the downfall in sight, several prominent young politicians, Imomali Rakhmonov among them, brought forward the option of expanding the land-lease system heralded by the recent “success” of expansion in the Republics of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. After intensive debate in which conservatives, fearful of the fact that land-lease expansion would threaten their own private inititives, refused to budge on the current system in the nation, First Secretary Makhkamov promised to look further into the suggestion in an attempt to bide his time with more debate whilst not antagonising the powerful right-wing of the party.

As the year moved past the half-way mark, with no end to the downfall of the world around them in sight, the Tajiks begun to fear for the future more so than any other nation that lay under the Soviet regime; the fires of violence, brutality and division only began to simmer across the horizon as the sun finally began to rise to a new age.

The Alternatehistory

By Michael Buchanan

Sep 26, 2014

 

Link of part 1: https://tajikopposition.com/2014/09/26/the-alternate-history-the-land-below-god-a-tajik-timline-1/

The Alternate History: “The Land Below God: A Tajik Timline” (1)

Part I – Prelude

Introduction

Since the dawn of civilization itself, the land that would become Tajikistan would prove itself to be a diverse one; with Persia settlers in the south, Chinese in the east and Turks in the north and west coalescing early in nations history into hundreds of small tribes and bands that frequently warred over land, food and basic living goods. Over time these bands of men and women, families with widespread culture ties to one another, ultimately began to draw closer and closer together as the world around them was cut off, the mountainous lands and the large river systems that dominated the landscape shielding them from outside influences, allowing for the growth of the early-Tajik language.

Time would soon prove to be pitted against the isolation of theTajik tribes however, as the centuries progressed and the world around them changed, those that remained in the small lands that the Tajik people called home soon found their lands overrun. From the Persians to the Greeks and the Indians to the Arabs, the cultures of the world were once again mixed in these lands, stirred further through the ebbs and flows of war as Tajikistan remained at the crossroads of the world, a middle man in the exchange of the worlds exotic cultures and arts as well as .

Dynasties with names such as Kushan, Sassanid, Umayyad and Samanid, ruled the green fields and ancient mountains of the Tajik people, the valuable business of cotton cultivation and merchant trade grew immensely during this period providing the lands with luxuries of true civilizations that had never been seen prior. Towns and cities began to appear and prosper with the coming of a golden era, Islamic and East Asian wisdom being passed down to the largely ‘Persian’ speaking population that inhabited the valley regions of Tajikistan as they engaged the outside world from their small place in time.

Such a situation, however, could never last, and has never lasted, and as such in so many glorious ‘golden periods’ of time, the ambitions of a few drove the progress of a thousand into the dirt; the Mongolians. As the Mongol Empire’s hordes swept across the Asian continent during the 13th century, the Tajiks attempted to hold to their small tribal states and towns in the mountains and valleys that they called home, ultimately proving themselves unable to withstand the juggernaut forever as they barred witness to their homes being burnt to the ground and their crops torn apart.

By the fall of the Mongol dynasty and its successor state of the Timurid Empire, the natives of the land had begun to grow weary of the outside world, preferring the grave comfort of a small universe to the enormous cosmos that was the planet Earth. Such a thought ultimately proved to enticing; the sacking, looting and constant war that the Tajiks so often associated with the surrounding world that felt the need to meddle in their was shunned away as the new leaders of Tajikistan withdrew back into the long forgotten peace of isolationist, tribal control, their lands watched (but rarely lorded) over by the distant powers of Persia and Bukhara.

Again, such a case of independence could never last in a world of superpowers, and as such another beast rose to fill the small seats held by clan emirs and local tribal leaders; the Russians. During the American Civil War when cheep cotton fell out of supply, the Russian Empire decided to look south towards the fertile valleys and waterways of central Asia, their enormous military overwhelming a technologically and numerically inferior foe in a matter of months like the hordes of Genghis Khan five hundreed years earlier. Soon, all resistance to Saint Petersburg was crushed in a brutal display of monarchical power as the Emir of Bukhara bowed down to kiss the tsars ring, Tajiks of all colours and faiths now falling under the white, blue and red banner of another distant and imposing empire.

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The provinces of Imperial Russian Turkestan, Bukhara in green​

Change under the Russians was swift, yet raw and brutalising. For the first fifty years of imperial control, Saint Petersburg went about the business of bolstering an economic powerhouse in Bukhara, the cotton fields mechanized and the towns grown to support the extravagant lifestyle of the local Russian governors and businessmen who grew to extreme wealth off the backs of the Tajik families, most of which never saw a rouble in the process of their deeds. Indeed, such was the life under Russians that most could no longer struggle to remain free, but to only work another day before receiving pay that would rarely ever arrive. Day in and day out across the Tajik lands, something was changing amongst the fields of cotton and mines of gold, something that was changing across the entire Empire itself.

The drums of war beat and the guns of the east rattled as the entire world turned on its head. For three years leading to 1917 the Tajiks had laboured at home and died abroad in a conflict against those they could not even recall, only doing to service of their master in the palace of Bukhara as his strings were pulled from all the way in Petrograd. Indignation arose around the Empire as all voices spoke as one.

Famine was tearing apart the population.

The poor and hungry were forced into the fields day in and day out.

The Empire that claimed to love its citizens robbed them of freedom and peace.

And with that one voice they overthrew the Imperial government in what felt like a single moment in time. In the land of Tajiks, freedom rung out around the nation as its people rose to their feats against their own enemy on the throne in Bukhara, the Emperor in Russia no longer able to support the man that for so long bent and scrapped before a foreign power that only brought struggle and strife to his own people. Together, the Young Bukharans, a communist organisation arose and toppled the last Emir, dissolving his faux council and raising the red flag of revolution. By 1920, Bukhara and Russia had fallen under the auspicious wing of the Russian Bolsheviks despite the rallying cries of the anti-revolutionary Basmachi movement that continued to fight against the Reds out of Tajikistan in an effort that lasted a decade. A fight that was lost.

In 1929, after the consolidation of the Communists in distant Moscow, after the failure to fight against “new imperialism”, the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic was born, the people so united in their division raised to an “equal” position among the other members of the USSR. Such a position would prove valuable in the long run, as over the next sixty years, through the starvation, wars and machinations of Joseph Stalin, through the battles between Khrushchev and the west, Brezhnev and Mao and the final long struggle between the Soviets in Afghanistan, the economy began to grow at a speed never before seen by the Tajik people. Day after day, schools were raised, dams were built, energy that flowed into the SSR powered the nation for years as those that struggled for so long finally began to receive reason for the struggle.

[​IMG]The flag of the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic​

Of course it wouldn’t last very long. Even in the time of the Tajik SSR’s existence, the structure built by the Tajik Communist Party proved itself to be nothing but corrupt and incompatible with the freedom so yearned by it’s people. By 1989, the system had become rotten to the core and antipathetic to the cries of more moderate voices. Only in this year did the forces of the USSR withdraw from its decade long debacle in the façade of Afghanistan. Only in this year did the reforms of Perestroika and Glasnost promised by Mikhail Gorbachev begin to build momentum in the faraway land of the Tajik SSR. Only in this year did the economy finally begin to pace towards its sluggish death as central industry failed to provide for its citizens. Only in this year did the citizens of all USSR’s find their voice.

Across the vast nation from Vilnius to Tallinn, Kiev to Tashkent, the voices that seventy years earlier rallied against the tyranny of the tsar now rallied against the tyranny of the faceless menace of Communism. Protests for independence and democracy raised and were repressed but raised again, women and children fell against the bayonets of the Soviet menace and in the streets of the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, thousands began to rally behind leaders young and old that would lead them into a radical new era. The blocks of an empire were beginning to crumble and the lights of modernity were struggling to break forth. What then united the normally divided clans and tribes of the Tajik people would never, and could never, last beyond the unified struggle for a voice, and time would only tell before the own cracks of disunity between the people of Tajikistan would begin to appear again.

Now was the time for men.

And now was the time for monsters.

 

The Alternatehistory

By Michael Buchanan

Sep 26, 2014

* * * * * * * * * *

Hello and welcome to my first “proper” timeline on the site, and one that I’ve been researching erratically for about one month now. As you can clearly see, the story itself is going to be focusing on the glorious and eternal nation of Tajikistan (one of my favourite little known nations) and the upcoming civil war that (IOTL) ravaged much of the population in only a few months of proper fighting between the factions, followed by a prolonged period of insurgency that lasted for around four years and saw thousands more killed on both sides. In any case, I hope you enjoy my timeline about this often disregarded nation and hopefully respond.

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