Tajikistan. The repression of freedom of opinion and opinion continued. According to Countryaah.com, Tajikistan population in 2020 is estimated at 9,537,656. The National Security Committee increased control over content in media and literature that was considered “offensive” and author script was confiscated.
The capital, the mayor of Dushanbe, banned music that was considered foreign to national and universal values to be played on public transport. This included songs that touched on sex or militant Islam.
The state-backed muftin issued a fatwa that stamped out contact with journalists or others who want to “destabilize” the country through regime criticism. According to the opposition, Tajikistan resorted to Russian anti-Western rhetoric with the blaming of foreigners to draw attention from its own failures and scare political opponents into silence as traitors.
A respected researcher who worked on behalf of a British university was arrested on charges of espionage and risking up to 20 years in prison. Critics saw the case as absurd and part of a growing anti-western atmosphere. The fear of a Ukrainian-like uprising seemed clear, and like the Kremlin, the regime accused foreign powers of threatening the country’s security with voluntary bodies as tools.
Radicalization of Islamic youth worried the regime, and hundreds of Tajikistanis were in Syria to fight with jihadists. The regime tried to offer both amnesty and legislation on stricter penalties for foreign warriors. Critics saw the high unemployment rate as a reason for recruitment and the authorities’ response to Islamism at home as another.
The regime also sought to control political criticism on the Internet by blocking Facebook, YouTube and the popular Russian site Odnoklassniki. About half of the population is said to use the Internet.
UN diplomats stated that Moscow threatened Tajikistan and others. Central Asian countries with penalties for the vote at the UN General Assembly in March, when a resolution condemned the Crimean Peninsula’s referendum on withdrawal from Ukraine. The resolution was adopted, but Tajikistan was among the countries that abstained.
It was a major financial difficulty for Tajikistani families that Moscow stopped hundreds of thousands of foreign guest workers at the Russian border. Tajikistanis abroad are said to contribute close to half of the country’s GDP, making Tajikistan more dependent on such income than any other country in the world. Nearly half of Tajikistan’s male labor force is estimated to be abroad.
A court ruled in April on confiscation of a market belonging to opposition leader Muhiddin Kabiri of the Islamic Renewal Party. The ruling was considered politically motivated and intended to weaken the opposition financially. Two of the party’s leaders were arrested, and at the beginning of the year, a party member had died in police custody under unclear circumstances.
The presidential family’s power holdings increased. President Emomali Rachmon’s son-in-law was appointed Consul General of the Russian Federation, and a daughter was promoted to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Her husband is Deputy Finance Minister. The president’s eldest daughter is the head of the customs office and is believed to be intended as the father’s successor.
Tajikistan’s largest industry, the aluminum manufacturer Talco, went bad and laid off a fifth of the over 10,000 employees. Wages were sharply lowered for the rest. Talco’s earnings have long been suspected of going to the president and his circle, and in addition, aluminum prices have fallen. The decline of the company is a severe hardship for the people of a city built in the Soviet era for Talco workers and their families.
During the year, criticism grew against the country’s corrupt school system, where a great deal of bribery is required but teaching is substandard. The teachers’ wretched salaries open to corruption, the classes are too large and the teachers are often unqualified. Most parents want their children to learn Russian in order to become a guest worker, but Russian education is weak in Tajik schools. More and more people are applying to Russian-language schools, where the unofficial fees are therefore raised to perhaps an annual salary for a poor family.
In September, construction began on a pipeline for gas from Turkmenistan through Tajikistan to the world’s largest energy user China. Poor Tajikistan hopes for big revenue from transit.