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

New Party Given Little Chance

By News Briefing Central Asia
A new Tajik opposition movement based in Moscow is virtually incapable of influencing domestic politics in Tajikistan, suggest NBCentralAsia observers.

The Russian newspaper Commersant reported on February 19 that a new Tajik opposition movement, Vatandor (Patriots of the Motherland), has been established in Moscow, and is headed by Dodojon Atovulloev, editor of the established opposition newspaper Charogi Ruz (Daylight).

Vatandor intends to demand President Imomali Rahmonov’s resignation, promising to carry out a “violet” revolution in the spring, gathering hundreds of thousands of supporters in Tajikistan’s major cities, if he refuses.

According to Commersant, many Tajik parties and political leaders have joined the movement.

But despite threatening noises, political observers based in Tajikistan are sceptical that these promises will amount to anything.

Muso Asozoda, head of personnel for the governing People’s Democratic Party, suggests that it is “just another bluff” by Atovulloev, and that he will not get the backing of Tajikistan’s political parties or opposition movements.

“Tajik people are not interested in what Atovulloev is offering. The situation in the country has been stable for five years already and a natural process of development is under way. The problems that exist in society are being gradually solved,” said Asozoda.

Muhiddin Kabiri, leader of the opposition Islamic Rebirth Party, says that even legal parties within Tajikistan find it difficult to influence political processes so a movement established abroad will not be able to make a difference.

“I don’t think a revolution is possible. Atovulloev will not be backed by parties within the country,”said Kabiri.

Hurshedi Atovullo, editor-in-chief of the political newspaper Farash, suggests that Vatandor borrowed the idea for the party from migrant workers in Tajikistan and the party will be more useful if it starts helping them.

Apart from several former officials, he thinks it is unlikely that many well known politicians will join the movement.

As for the likelihood of a revolution, political scientist Parviz Mullojanov has told NBCentralAsia that the conditions for one do not exist in Tajikistan, although he warned that discontent will grow unless the government does not address the country’s social and economic problems within the next five to six years.

Shakirjon Hokimov, deputy head of the opposition Social Democratic Party, gives even more weight to the potential for civil unrest in the face of social and economic problems.

He suggests that poor living conditions, recent restrictions on migrants to Russia, the deteriorating conditions for migrant workers and isolation from real participation in politics may “cause a social explosion”.

(News Briefing Central Asia draws comment and analysis from a broad range of political observers across the region.)