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 were banned.
According to countryaah, the current population of Tajikistan is 9,537,656. 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 electricity supply.
During the year, the regime officially banned last names with Russian endings for newborns. According to thereligionfaqs, 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.