Foreign Policy Blogs

Tajikistanibashi update-news & comments

Fireworks, Light, ActionIn last week's entry on Tajikistan, I summarized what I considered to be the potential foreign policy fallout of President Rakhmon's name change and most of all, his directive that others also have their surnames recorded in official documents with the Russianized ending removed.  Some great insights came out of the comments: 

First, the issue of the Tajik diaspora to Russia was considered.  Most comments included passages underscore concerns for the safety of the Tajik diaspora in Russia.   The outmigration of ethnic Russians and Tajiks from Tajikistan was noted as an effect of the 1992-1997 Tajik civil war, and not as a result of President Rakhmon's new or previous policies.  Not too much was said about the remittance economy or Russian foreign aid.   

Second, the usefulness of having Russia on one's side was fiercely contested.  The hardship of Soviet rule and Russian appropriation of Tajik assets after independence was asserted.

Third,  it was both suggested and refuted that President Rakhmon made this move to improve his Muslim credentials at home and abroad.

Fourth, one person who wrote in complained that many in the foreign media cannot adequately place Central Asian officials in the country from which they operate.  That's something that everyone can try to improve.

More news articles on this issue:
March 26
Kazakhstan Today News Agency reports that President Rakhmon's directive was accompanied by directives to change the name of the university and the name of several parks to conform with “national cultural traditions.”
March 28
Ilan Greenberg at International Herald Tribune reports mild annoyance and bewilderment as people absorb the new regulation.  One of this blog's comments suggest some agreement with the mild annoyance.
Reuters reports that President Rakhmon's spokesperson, maintains that changing Tajik surnames is a recommendation and not a requirement.
March 30
IWPR reports that President Rakhmon will set a fashion for name changes, but not all Tajiks will choose to make the change.
April 1
Andrew Osborn reports from Moscow to the Scotland Sunday Herald that the Tajik president is promoting a new book on Tajik nationalism that he has written, called The Tajiks in the Mirror of History, and compares it to the Turkmenbashi's Ruhnama as a phenomenon.  He also reports that schoolchildren cannot be conveyed to school in cars, cannot have mobile phones, and that any teacher or government employee cannot have gold teeth (another dislike of Turkmenbashi). has a discussion sequence on the name change, including a comment or two that suggests I need to lighten up. . . :-)   . . . . I usually find that to be a useful comment–and will definitely keep it in mind.

Again, just as in Turkmenistan's on-again, off-again pageant, it's important to explore and watch these new developments with an eye to human rights and transparency–