Tajik Effort to Change Russian Minds

The authorities in Tajikistan have launched an all-out drive to change Russians’ perceptions of their country, as a way of countering discrimination and attacks targeting Tajik migrant workers abroad.

The PR campaign aims to reach out to a broad constituency of Russians – even far-right skinheads and football hooligans – to show them various aspects of Tajikistan and dispel some of their prejudices.

A special “image centre” will run a series of events in Russian cities designed to counter the negative stereotypes that are prevalent in Russian society and media. Dushanbe will also host a youth festival, inviting participants from all over the former Soviet Union, and even Russian nationalists if they are prepared to come.

Hundreds of thousands of Tajiks work as seasonal labour abroad, mainly in Russia, despite the day-to-day discrimination they often face both in the workplace and outside it.

Many are unskilled, but there are also significant numbers working as doctors and other professionals.

Overall, the migrant workers send home an estimated two billion US dollars in remittances every year, an essential support system for households in what is the poorest of the Central Asian states.  

The audio programme, in Russian, went out on national radio stations in Tajikistan, as part of IWPR project work funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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