Tajikistan. Authoritarian President Emomali Rachmon
strengthened his power during the year. The government
proposed in January that Rachmon should be able to run for
an unlimited number of terms and that the minimum age for
presidential candidates be lowered from 35 to 30 years,
which would open the way for the president's son Rustam
Emomali from 2017. Furthermore, religiously-based parties
countryaah, the constitutional amendments were approved by
Parliament, which is fully controlled by the People's
Democratic Party. The decision was confirmed in a referendum
in May, where officially more than nine-tenths of the
electorate participated and close to 95% of them were said
to have agreed.
The president appointed her daughter Ozeda Rachmon as her
chief of staff, and in May she was elected as a member of
the Senate. Her husband sits on the board of central bank
and her brother heads the anti-corruption agency. To
strengthen the cult around the presidential family,
President's Day was set up in November, a public holiday.
Parliament voted for a law of up to five years in prison for
public insult to President Rachmon.
Moscow decided to reduce its troops at the Russian
military base in Tajikistan, which, with some 7,000
soldiers, had the largest Russian force outside its home
country. It was interpreted as a sign of contradictions
between the Russian and Tajik leaders.
Tajikistan's economy has been 45% dependent on a couple
of million Tajikist guest workers' incomes in the Russian
Federation. These revenues fell by a third in 2015, and the
decline continued in 2016 due to the downturn in the Russian
economy. In February, Tajikistan began negotiations with the
IMF on an economic rescue package.
The regime feared the political ramifications of young
guest workers in the hundreds of thousands returning home to
economic depression and unemployment at a time when Islamic
radicalism has attracted many Central Asian youths.
According to the regime, more than 1,000 Tajikistanis have
joined the terrorist group IS.
In June, 14 former leaders of the Islamic Renewal Party
were sentenced to long prison sentences accused of terrorism
and participation in coup attempts against President Rachmon
in 2015. Two of those convicted were given life terms, one
woman two years and the others between 14 and 28 years.
According to the prosecutor, the evidence against the
accused was undeniable, but according to Human Rights Watch,
the trial was part of a harsh blow against the opposition.
According to Amnesty, the defendants received no fair trial.
In August, another 170 people were sentenced to imprisonment
for between one and 30 years on similar charges.
In October, new judgments came, now against two lawyers
who had defended members of the Islamic renewal party. They
were sentenced to 23 and 21 years in prison respectively.
Almost the entire country, including the capital
Dushanbe, was hit by electricity outages in October. Shortly
thereafter, a planned construction of the world's highest
power plant dam, 335 meters, was started. The new power
plant is supposed to end the uncertainty in the country's
During the year, the regime officially banned last names
with Russian endings for newborns. All surnames should be
written with Tajik suffixes to avoid children being divided
into two groups where one is proud of their Tajik names and
the other has foreign names, it was called.