Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Latest Racist Murders Shock Tajikistan

The recent murder of Tajik migrant worker Salahuddin Azizov has highlighted concerns that the Russian authorities are not doing enough to combat racist attacks.
Azizov, 20, from Shaartuz in southern Tajikistan, was killed and beheaded just outside Moscow by thugs believed to belong to an extreme right-wing Russian nationalist group.

Reporter Bek Rahmoni went to Dushanbe airport when the bodies of Azizov and Rasul Taniev, a 32-year-old man allegedly killed by racists a week later, were returned home.

He spoke to waiting relatives and other people meeting their own family members coming home from Russia. Many expressed outrage that Tajiks working in Russia are treated as outcasts and terrorists.

In a formal note of protest, the Tajik foreign ministry reminded its Russian counterpart that 84 nationals from Tajikistan had been killed in racist attacks since the start of 2007.

Muhiddin Kabiri, who heads the Islamic Rebirth Party and is a member of parliament, wants to see a special ministry for migrant affairs set up to bring under one roof the tasks currently carried out by a range of government agencies.

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Financial Crisis Plays Out in Tajikistan

Lower money transfers to Tajikistan and falling commodity exports are the first signs the international economic crisis is hitting home, says reporter Rahamatullo Odinaev.

As Tajiks working away from home in Russia and Kazakstan begin returning, the fall in the remittances they send home is beginning to be felt in the banking system. Some bank staff say the money flows are drying up, although Orionbank deputy chairman Umed Davladzoda says it is growth rates that are falling back rather than absolute amounts.

The declining influx of cash is likely to have implications for the wider economy as banks become less able to lend to businesses.

Meanwhile, at the production end, the crisis has also had an effect on the important aluminium and cotton industries. As world demand for these commodities slackens and purchase prices fall, Tajikistan is earning substantially lower export revenues than before.

The government has plans to mitigate the worst effects of the crisis by setting up a stabilisation fund which will support small businesses and farmers by offering credit on favourable terms.

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Gas Prices Up Again

Supplies of natural gas continue to be a problem for many Tajiks, as reporter Nilufar Karimova found out.

Dushanbe resident Mirzamurod Bozorov, for example, says he has not received gas for a year (apart from in the holy month of Ramadan) and when he questions the suppliers, they say no one in Tajikistan is getting gas.

Consumers like Murodov say they pay bills regularly yet receive no gas. But the deputy head of the national supplier Tajikgaz, Shavkat Shoimov, says that when whole districts of the capital are left without gas, it is because of some technical hitch; while individuals are cut off only if they do not pay bills.

Shoimov adds that the debt accrued in unpaid gas bills – particularly on the part of major corporations – is a serious matter which hampers his company’s ability to pay Uzbekistan for all the gas the country needs.

The Uzbeks recently made a bombshell announcement – instead of the current 145 US dollars per 1,000 cubic metres, they plan to charge their neighbour 300 dollars next year.

“It’s a shocking increase,” said Tajikgaz chairman Fathiddin Muhsiddinov. “Tajikistan never expected such an sharp increase from the Uzbeks, at a time when gas exporters all over the world are lowering their prices.”

Professor Tabarali Ghaniev, an economist, says the Tajik government needs to soften the blow to consumers by writing off past debts.

Meanwhile, Tajikistan is taking the first steps towards developing its own natural gas deposits with Russian and Canadian help.

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