Its not surprising that when you search for any blog about Tajikistan you just find the travel blogs, which are mainly posted by foreigners who travel around the country and tell about their experiences in this exotic country. So, I have decided to tell you about some of the most interesting ones.
One of them is the live-journal of a young lady, whose name is Karin. Currently she lives in Dushanbe with her host family. She calls her blog I have no idea what to call this blog. The family that she lives with, is a typical Tajik family, which consists of 5 children and two parents. In her blogs she tells about her everyday life and shows the life of Tajikistan from inside. There are also some very good pictures. This blog is updated almost everyday.
In Tajikistan during the summer you can see a lot of foreign people traveling by bicycles, which seems really weird to local people. When people see them, you can always hear something like Oh my God, these foreigners have nothing else to do. Tim and Rowen are also one of those strange bicycle riders. On June 28, 2006 theyve posted a small article about their experience in Tajikistan. They tell us about how hard it was to struggle those tough and rough roads of Tajikistan, especially the roads in Pamir. There are no pictures of the roads but you can find them on the other blog, which is called “The Big Trip”. There are some very good pictures. Ive traveled many times on this road (Osh-Khorog). It is a real torture (Im not exaggerating). There is a very high altitude, especially when you go through the high passes. Lack of oxygen makes you sick, and you shouldnt make quick moves, otherwise you can just fall fainted. These passes look more like a surface of the Mars. It is very difficult to travel by car and I still dont understand how those bicycle and motorcycle riders can travel on this road, one should erect a monument for them on the highest pass.
Dushanbe pleasantly surprised Matt. First, in his blog he says: I was ready for hell in Tajikistan. The poorest Soviet republic, one that descended into bloody civil war almost the day after secession from Moscow, and one so hard to reach that globalization doesn’t bother (take that, Friedman), I had mentally written this travelogue before I arrived. Then he goes, pleasantly, Dushanbe surprised me. Not that I would recommend it for a holiday — indeed, there is next to nothing to do downtown, each day is about 99 degrees with no breeze, and there is virtually no infrastructure to cater to tourists. But therein lies the charm. Here it is good to mention a Russian proverb, It is better to see once than to hear hundred times. He tells his readers some interesting things about Dushanbe and Tajikistan, which can be seen only by foreigners, and also goes back to the history of Tajikistan. There are no pictures unfortunately.
Elizabeth tells us about her/his observations in Tajikistan. Her posts are written in a style of what is wrong with these Tajiks?. There are some good observations, especially about the Tajik solidarity groups. The post is called The Podyezd and the Mosque. The cis tells its readers about how the Tajiks live in a multistoried buildings.
There are not too many pictures in all these blogs but you can go to the blog of Bahtiyor and can see a lot of pictures of Tajikistan. This blog is in Russian, but it mostly consists of pictures, so you dont necessarily need to know Russian, just enjoy the pictures.
Если вы хотите прочитать информацию о партиях на русском языке, то можете перейти на статью Вадима, а голосуйте здесь.
We had a slight technical issue with the poll, and lost all the data. Thanks to Ollie, we are now hosting it on our internal server, so you can vote without fear of this happening again. Please accept my apologies!
For better or for worse, Imomali Rahmonov will still be president after the November, 2006, presidential elections. Even if they were perfectly fair from here on out, Rakhmonov has already cracked down on the opposition, and the election would likely fall well short of standards.
That doesn’t mean we can’t see who would win if the election were fair with an online poll (you can vote below, or just look at the results). Actually, this online poll shows nothing of the sort; a majority of Tajiks are satisfied with the status quo and the opposition is fractured and divided, so Rakhmonov, much like his neighbor Nursultan Nazarbayev, would almost definitely win even if the election were fair.
Nevertheless, let’s see how the nascent political parties would fare if their constituency were neweurasia‘s readership. Read on for a summary of the various parties, then vote.
Everyone likes a winner. The People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan, while something of a misnomer, is the ruling party, and the party of President Rakhmonov. This party is based around a personality, not issues. Still, its (or rather his) accomplishments are not insignificant.
Tajikistan has seen an extraordinary average GDP growth rate over the past five years (especially given its distinct lack of natural resources in comparison with its neighbors), emerged from a destructive civil war, and pursued in many cases shrewd development policies.
A vote for the PDPT would likely a vote for more of the same – emphasis on growth, secularism, security, and leaving democracy and rights for later.
You can vote for the Communist Party of Tajikistan, but they probably won’t even field a candidate for president. While they do run in parliamentary elections and boast four seats in the 63 member house, their criticism of the ruling party is not harsh, and most do not even really consider them to be part of the opposition.
Needless to say, the heyday of the communists seems to be over. In the 1980s, they boasted nearly 123,000 members, but with the fall of the Soviet Union, that number fell considerably.
A vote for the Communists would be a vote for the way things once were, except without Russia to pay the bills.
The Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, also known as the Islamic Rebirth or Islamic Revival Party, is the only Islamic party in Central Asia to take part in elections. The IRPT holds two seats in the parliament. Per a treaty ending the civil war, the IRPT is represented in all levels of government. It is rumored to have existed illegally even before the Soviet Union fell, and unlike other Islamic movements, concerns itself only with national issues, not transnational ones.
The IRPT is the quintessential opposition movement in Tajikistan not only because its policies stand in stark contrast with those of the PDPT, but because its adherents fought on the opposite side in the civil war. The war is, however, over, and the IRPT is careful not to aggravate those in power. As Islamic movements gain popularity in Muslim countries worldwide, this is the party to watch.
A vote for the IRPT is a vote for Qur’anic principles in government and realignment away from Russia.
The Democratic Party of Tajikistan is fractured and weak. Its leader was jailed in October, 2005, and it has a splinter faction. Despite their weakness, like the IRPT, they refuse to back a single candidate to oppose Rakhmonov in the upcoming election, and will field their own.
The DPT was founded by intellectuals, and is based on secular, nationalist, pro-Western principles. A vote for them would be a vote for a different model entirely.
The Social-Democratic Party of Tajikistan used to be called the Party of Justice and Development, but had to change its name because the old party got banned in 1999. This party seems to be the perpetual thorn in the ruling party’s side, and its main platform is opposition to abuses of the current system.
A vote for this party would be a vote for reform and the curtailing of current systemic abuses.
The Hizb ut-Tahrir is outlawed and can’t actually participate in general elections. They are considered a terrorist group, and advocating for or supporting them is illegal. You can, however, vote for them here.
Check out Chris DeVito’s post for more information on the HTI.
A vote for the HTI is a vote for the re-establishment of a Caliphate, the implementation of Sharia law.
There you have a brief rundown on the various political parties at large in Tajikistan. It is by no means exhaustive, and there are many more unregistered parties and factions. However, it is enough to vote!
Please be a good sport and don’t vote more than once!
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Special thanks to Maarten for all of the party symbol pics
Drug Control Agency in Tajikistan has a ritual of burning illicit drugs in front of cameras which is to make an illusion of battling them. On 19th of June this agency burnt about 136 kg of heroin in its special furnaces. Illicit drugs were burnt in front of the commission which consisted of representatives from law-enforcement agencies, and also Swedish journalists from TV company Strix. Usually, several journalists from different companies participate in such events. It is the way to show that this agency is doing something, in reality the situation is different.
136 kg is just the smallest part of all the illicit drugs, which come from Afghanistan. It is the top of the iceberg. This drug was confiscated from minor drug-smugglers, who were trying to earn some money to buy food for their family and now they are sitting in jail. The major drug-smugglers who are dealing with tons of heroin are now sitting in their huge houses and thinking of smuggling another ton.
Of course, I am not defending anyone here, the point is that Drug Control Agency and other law enforcement agencies are struggling against those who are standing on the lowest level of this big hierarchy of drug-dealers, just to keep a record, while those who are on the top of the hierarchy are in good relations with the heads of law-enforcement agencies and do a joint business.
Hydropower industry for Tajikistan is one of the main sectors of economy. It is the only sector of the economy which properly functions and has a huge capacity for development. In terms of clean and fresh water Tajikistan is one of the richest countries in the world. Water gives an opportunity for Tajikistan to generate electric power for the whole Central Asian region, but the lack of investments suspends the process of development. There are a lot of countries, which are interested in development of this sector of economy, among them are Russia, China and Iran.
Unites States were always far from this issue but the situation is changing now because one of the largest American energy companies, AES Corporation plans to invest $1 billion for realization of power supply project from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was reported by vice president of AES, Dale Perry on the press-conference in Almaty, Kazakhstan. During the first stage of the project it is planned to build a power transmission line from Tajikistan to Afghanistan for 220 kilowatts; on second stage power transmission line fro 50 kilowatts from Kyrgyzstan through Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan; on third stage two new hydroelectric power stations in Tajikistan. reported Dale Perry
It is the positive outcome of the Power, Transit and Trade International conference which took place in Turkey. During this conference Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan signed quadrilateral agreement on implementation of power supply project from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Deputy Prime Minister of Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Mineral Minister, Afghan Minister for Energy and Water, Pakistan Minister for Energy and US Deputy Minister for Trade and Development attended the conference.
I think this agreement was signed by the recommendations from Washington D.C. Otherwise there was no reason to sign it, because none of the above mentioned countries are financially able to handle such a big project, even if they do it with joint efforts. The AES Corporation acts as the agent of US Ministry for Trade and Development, which will facilitate the realization of the agreement on implementation of power supply project from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Pakistan and Afghanistan. This project will be a great contribution to the development of Afghanistan, which has become a headache for the US.
Vadim reports on neweurasias new Russian-language Tajikistan blog that the European Commission is preparing to wrap up its humanitarian aid program for Tajikistan. The Commission has concluded that with the Tajik Civil War over for nearly a decade now, the situation has improved enough that it is time to head home.
Its final program seeks to improve health conditions in Tajikistans most vulnerable communities.
The aid provided will focus on improving the health and living conditions of vulnerable communities and facilitate the establishment and functioning of a national medicine procurement system in order to reinforce local capacities. The emphasis in this final planned funding decision will be on linking relief to rehabilitation and development.
Vadim argues in his post that this exodus of humanitarian aid is a positive sign and marks an important step in development (my translation):
Generally speaking, the lest organizations like the European Commission in a country, the better; [the fact that these organizations are leaving] signifies that everything is normal, calm, and that we are no longer living at the level of poverty we were during the civil war.
I tend to agree with Vadim, although poverty is still rampant in Tajikistan, and the government should be sure to fill the vacuum left by the exiting humanitarian organizations to create some poverty alleviation programs of its own; with an average growth rate of 9% since 2000 (source: World Bank World Development Indicators), Tajikistans government can afford it.
Just a small but very important news for our country. According to the State committee of statistics the population of Tajikistan by 1st of January, 2006 constituted 6, 919, 900, which is for 139, 500 more than in the previous year or for 2.1 percent higher. 40 percent of the population consists of children younger than 15 years old. By 1st of July 2005 the population of the country constituted 6, 838, 700. In recent times the government of Tajikistan several times claimed that by 15th anniversary of Independence (9th of September, 2006) the population of the country will constitute 7 million.
Today is the first day that the heads of CIS security and intelligence services are meeting in Dushanbe. It is the 20th meeting of this kind. Two important issues to be discussed on this meeting: the enhancement of the Council of heads of CIS security and intelligence services and joint protection of fuel and energy industry from terrorist attacks in CIS countries. Probably, it is the idea of Russia to discuss the issue of fuel and energy industry protection in order to strengthen its position on the forthcoming G-8 Summit in Saints-Petersburg, where Russia takes the chairmanship and the main topic of this summit will be the global energy security.
As the Information Agency Avesta informs, the main CIS intelligence officers will also discuss the issue of drug-smuggling and fighting the crime in the sphere of information technology and talk about the international terrorism in CIS countries and joint efforts in detention of terrorists.
The head of CIS antiterrorist center is planning to report on the Program of cooperation of CIS countries in struggle against international terrorism and other forms of extremism in the period of 2005 2007. There will be some other reports on preparation of the draft of intergovernmental agreement on information exchange in the sphere of terrorism and joint antiterrorist trainings of CIS Special Forces.
Previous meeting of the heads of CIS security and intelligence services was held on 20th of May, 2005 in Astana. The participants of the meeting signed a Protocol on establishment of common dactyloscopy
data base on terrorists. Besides that, it was decided to promote information exchange and cooperation of CIS
antiterrorist center with UN Security Council – informs the Information Agency Varorud.
The day before the beginning of the meeting the lower chamber of the parliament of Tajikistan ratified the “Program of CIS countries cooperation in struggle against terrorism and other forms of extremism for the period of 2005 2007″. This document was enacted in August, 2005 on the Summit of CIS countries in Kazan, Tatarstan (Russian Federation).
In a move that probably isnt all that significant, Tajikistan has taken the chairmanship of the Commonwealth of Independent States. So far talks in Dushanbe led by Tajikistans current prime minister have resulted the signing of an impressive eleven documents.
The documents have been passed without a discussion. In particular, it is a decision to carry out a census in CIS countries before 2010, introduce changes in the rules of defining a commodity’s country of origin, a protocol on changes in the agreement on co-operation in forestry and forest industry, the agreement on harmonising technical regulations, on co-operation in physical culture and sports, etc.
To summarize, we can infer that nothing too earth shattering was passed if nothing even warranted a discussion. Tajikistans prime minister, however, did make a variety of broad statements about the need for further collaboration, integration, etc.
Georgia and Ukraine criticized the organization, and Georgia even claimed to be considering withdrawing. The CIS is widely perceived to be Russias instrument of regional control. Tajikistan takes no issue with this reality, as Russia maintains a military base in Tajikistan, and opinion polls show that Russians are very highly regarded in the country.
What follows is one part of a cross-blog initiative, which takes the role of Islam in Central Asia and the Caucasus as its central theme:
Tajikistans relationship with political Islam is perhaps the most volatile, diverse, and complicated in Central Asia. Tajikistan is home to various strains of Islam, with the silent majority favoring a more informal, non-institutionalized, traditional strain of Islam, but stricter, foreign-influenced Islam is on the rise. Roughly 5% of the population ascribes to Ismailism, one of the few pockets of Shiism in a Sunni-dominated region. Most of the rest are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi school, a tolerant variety of Islam known for the ease with which it assimilates pre-Islamic beliefs and practices.
The Tajik Civil War
Political Islam in Tajikistan cannot be understood outside of the destructive Tajik Civil War, fought from 1992 to 1997. It is remembered simplistically as a war between pro-Moscow, secular forces, and religious extremists. While there is truth to this characterization, it was also largely an ethnic conflict between the north and the south.
Because Karategin (a province in southern Tajikistan, also written as Garm-Kartogin, and referred to as the Gharmis) had put up the stiffest resistance to Soviet rule, they had largely been left out of the government in favor of northern elites (the Kulabis). Nevertheless, a significant portion of Karategin society managed to amass economic clout, which set the stage for their seizing power in 1992, along with a diverse coalition of Islamic groups, Islamists, Pamiris and democrats. Their rule was short-lived as the communist party struck back and retook control of the country later that same year, even though the war raged on sporadically until peace in 1997.
Outside forces played key roles throughout. Russian troops covertly backed the northern forces, as did Uzbekistan. The Taliban backed southern forces, and current Tajik President Rakhmonovs hometown became a major supply point for Afghan forces opposed to the Taliban.
With the conclusion of the civil war, large numbers of opposition forces fled into Afghanistan.
Politics after the Peace
Despite the fact that Tajiks arguably have more reason than any to oppose radical Islam, Islam enjoys more tolerance than other Central Asian republics. The civil war seems to have a silver lining to it, as Tajikistan is one of the only Central Asian countries to allow Islamic parties in its opposition.
The Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) is probably the best organized of these groups. Of all the legalized Islamic parties in Central Asia, only the Islamic Revival Party has taken part in actual elections. The party was represented in the National Reconciliation Commission that marked the end of the civil war. Per the agreement, the IRPT is represented in all levels of Tajik government, despite its relatively weak popularity.
One can certainly go to far in painting a rosy, tolerant picture of political Islam in Tajikistan. Since the civil war, the government has assumed control of religion in the country much like other rulers in the region. The government dissolved the Muftiate to replace it with a government-controlled body and enacted legislation stating that political parties could not act in a religious capacity. The opposition could do little about it, as it is fractured and divided.
Beyond the usual suspects like the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Hizb ut Tahrir, recent reports have indicated the presence of a new group known as the Bayat. There is currently little information on this shadowy organization, and some have questioned its existence.
President Rakhmonov will be up for reelection in November, 2006. The outcome is already a foregone conclusion, and he has engaged in a lot of chicanery far in advance that is completely unnecessary to ensure his victory. After his reelection, Rakhmonov would do well to preserve and expand upon Tajikistan’s relatively tolerant political environment. Tajikistan is geographically he first stop for any foreign Islamists, and its porous borders make it easy to infiltrate. It is therefore more important in Tajikistan than anywhere else in Central Asia to keep the political space as open as possible, and convince those that might be otherwise persuaded that there is a viable alternative in a functioning, moderate state.
The following is a brief roundup of recent notable events in Tajikistan.
French Jet Fighters
Like India and Russia, France has a military presence in Tajikistan, and is redeploying three Mirage fighters for about three months. An RIA Novosti article stipulates that the French embassy did not give a reason for this deployment, but another article says that they will be used against the Taliban.
France was the only country beside the US to have flown bombing missions over Afghanistan in direct support of American troops. The Taliban remain a scourge in neighboring Afghanistan, and according to some reports the ex-government is on the rise, so no wonder coalition forces seem to be preparing a new offensive.
Working with China
Continuing with the theme of Tajikistan doing a marvelous job of being everybodys best friend, China and Tajikistan have agreed to intensify cooperation in fighting the three evil forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism. This rhetoric suits both countries quite well, albiet for somewhat different reasons.
Opposition Parties Unite (or not)
The Tajik opposition can not seem to get along; attempts to forge a coalition platform already seem to be failing. Practically, this does not really make much of a difference as President Rakhmanov has already made it clear that the poll will not be fair. However, a united opposition could have at least made him get creative to justify his victory to the outside world.
Few observers believe there is much chance that Rahmonov will be defeated, but most opposition parties want to make a point by offering voters a credible political agenda.
On the other hand, the opposition parties that would have had to unite include: the Communist Rebirth Party, the Islamic Rebirth Party, the Democratic Party of Tajikistan, Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan, and the Socialist Party. The last two have agreed to the suggested coalition.
Many of these minor parties are a bit extreme in ideology, and it would take a pretty creative platform to unify them. They would have little in common except their opposition to the status quo, and in the case of the communists even that much is not completely true.
All parties except for the ruling one are currently in deep crisis, and there is only one real candidate, the incumbent president, said Mamadazimov.
I am sure that the [opposition] parties taken together will not win even 10 per cent of the vote, while the PDPT will get 65 to 70 per cent even if the executive authorities do not intervene [to back the Rahmonov campaign]. And since they definitely will be intervene, their vote will rise as high as 90 per cent.
Tajikistan is increasing its border guards along the Kyrgyz frontier. Last Friday, an unknown armed group of militants raided border posts. Some of them were rounded up and destroyed, but for some reason it remains unknown who they were exactly. Because some of them did escape, Tajikistan is increasing its military presence along the border.