Tajikistan is a country located in Central Asia defined
by Digopaul. In January, authoritarian president Emomali
Rachmon appointed his 29-year-old son Rustam Emomali as new
mayor of the capital, Dusjanbe. The long-time former mayor
Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloev was dismissed. The appointment came
after the president appointed one of his daughters, Ruhshona
Rachmonova, to head the Foreign Affairs Department's
international relations department. Previously, daughter
Ozoda Rachmon had been appointed President's Chief of Staff.
Several other close relatives of Rachmon hold important
positions or control profitable companies.
The Tajik regime evolved into a family dynasty, and the
dismissed Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloev seemed to step by step lose
his influence as the second most powerful politician in the
country after the president. During the year, several of
Ubaidulloev's allies were sentenced to prison for corruption
in construction projects during Ubaidulloev's time as mayor.
Later, several investigators and officials at the
country's anti-corruption agency were arrested on suspicion
of being themselves guilty of corruption and fraud. Some of
the bribery cases at the Anti-Corruption Bureau were said to
be linked to Ubaidulloev's allies. Several of the agency's
officials were sentenced during the year to long prison
Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin visited
Dushanbe in February and agreed with Rachmon to strengthen
security at the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border. About 7,000
Russian soldiers are stationed in Tajikistan, and Putin
designated Tajikistan as a key country for regional security
in Central Asia.
The International Center for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) in
The Hague noted in a March report that Tajikistan is the
country that has exported the most suicide bombers to the
Islamic State (IS) terror group. According to the ICCT, the
reasons are the repression of unapproved religious
organizations, the humiliation of working as migrant workers
abroad and the fact that a former Tajikistani officer from a
special federation has moved to IS.
In March, the Supreme Court extended the prison sentence
for a senior human rights lawyer from 23 to 25 years for a
court violation. Buzurgmehr Yorov was sentenced for
solicitation to overthrow the government and stir up social
unrest, accusations he denied. Several human rights lawyers
were jailed, and Human Rights Watch demanded their release.
The leader of the Social Democratic Party, Rahmatullo
Zoirov, said the judgments against Yorov and the 26-year-old
opposition entrepreneur Zaid Saidov were politically
motivated. Zoirov asked the Supreme Court to reconsider
them. It was an unusual challenge to the regime in the
heavily controlled country. Buzurgmehr Yorov's lawyer feared
for his safety and left the country. She later sought
political asylum in Germany, saying that the Tajik
authorities planned a criminal investigation against her.
The president's son reaffirmed his position as mayor of
Dushanbe, when in April he was also elected to the city
council. Rachmon junior was said to have won a filling
election with close to 85% of the vote after his
representative Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloev left his seat in the
In April, a plane from Uzbekistan's national airline
landed in Dushanbe for the first time in 25 years. The
regular airline between Dushanbe and Tashkent resurfaced
after relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan improved
after many years of conflict over border guarding, transport
routes and distribution of water resources.
During the year, the Ministry of Culture declared that no
books could be taken into or out of the country without
written permission. The smuggling of valuable manuscripts
would be prevented, it was said, but critics saw an attempt
to stop the introduction of extremist religious material.
Citizens under the age of 40 were banned from
participating in this year's pilgrimage to Mecca in an
effort to prevent radicalization of young people. In a July
speech, President Rachmon urged men not to wear beards and
women not to wear headscarves, to resist what he termed
foreign cultures, and to preserve what he described as the
true Tajik culture. The government set up a commission to
design appropriate clothing for citizens, with a view to
both Tajik tradition and modern life. Hijab is prohibited at
state offices and schools, and boys under the age of 18 are
prohibited from participating in prayer in the mosques. The
police are sometimes said to arrest men with stout beards
and force them to shave. A couple of actors were said to
have been allowed by the police to wear a beard because it
belonged to their role figures. In August, Parliament's
lower house approved a law amendment that forces individuals
and organizations to adhere to traditional and national
attire and culture. The law also regulates other details of
privacy, such as what families can spend on weddings,
funerals and other private parties. There were reports of
raids to wedding parties, where authorities seized food that
was considered wasteful and not in line with family income.
Authorities also banned loud crying at funerals as well
as tearing of the hair and thumping with the head. Families
and friends may cry and mourn their dead, but shouting and
hiring others to howl is forbidden, it was called. The
latter has otherwise been seen as a sign of love and respect
for the deceased in many parts of Tajikistan. The
authorities also did not allow black upholstery at the
funeral but called for the traditional blue color.
Prosecution was brought against the former head of the
National Library for Crime Law regulating the cost of
weddings. He was accused of spending too much on his son's
In October it was reported that the Prosecutor General
has established a register of gay and lesbian people,
officially to prevent the spread of venereal diseases.
In November, in an effort to counter Islamic
radicalization, the authorities decided to dismiss all
foreign-educated imams and replace them with imams who
received their education in Tajikistan.