Posts by AlexanderSodiqov:

    Tajikistan Introduces Controversial “Ethics Code” For Internet Users

    December 6th, 2013


    By Alexander Sodiqov.

    A set of “ethical” guidelines for the users of internet services and personal electronic devices has been developed in Tajikistan. The “Ethics Code for an e-Citizen”, presented in Dushanbe on October 11, seeks to provide the country’s information and telecommunication technology (ICT) users with a moral framework for using familiar ethical standards while talking on the phone or surfing the internet.

    Tajikistan Monitor has translated the document into English:

    We, the members of digital information society, adopt the Ethics Code for an e-Citizen and urge [everyone] to follow in virtual space ethical standards they use in real life.

    The norms of this Ethics Code apply to instances of communication via a mobile phone and on the world wide net…

    1. When using information and communication technologies (ICT), public interest should prevail.
    2. Positive thinking, positive communication, and positive action should prevail in virtual space, irrespective of time and location.
    3. It is mandatory to follow and respect human rights and freedoms, national law, and international legal norms in virtual space.
    4. Ethical standards of interpersonal communication should be upheld when using ICT; users should introduce themselves and then state the reason of their address [obrashchenie] in a brief and intelligible manner.
    5. It is mandatory to follow the law and ethical standards applicable to original content when using ICT.
    6. It is mandatory to respect the norms of the state language and national values in virtual space.
    7. Talking on the phone and other communication devices loudly and for long periods [or “without need”] is inadmissible in public places.
    8. The use of unpleasant (coarse) sounds and unprintable [necenzurniy] words in ICT, as well as playing loud music in public places is inadmissible.
    9. ICT should be used in a way that does not disturb other people and is not harmful to their health.
    10. Equipment [oborudovanie] and technological devices belonging to other users cannot be used without their permission.
    11. Personal data is inviolable in virtual space; the use of personal data without a user’s consent [or “without a sanction”] is inadmissible.
    12. It is mandatory to respect intellectual property; plagiarism in ICT is prohibited.
    13. The words and information attributable to another person (user) should not be distorted and/or shortened.
    14. ICT should not be used to disseminate spam.
    15. The use of ICT for harassment, dissemination of offensive content [oskorblenie] and slander, provocation, triggering of panic, as well as for reasons of greed [koryst‘], regionalism [mestnichestvo], and other improper reasons, is inadmissible.
    16. Discrimination of users on the basis of nationality, language, religion, race, and sex in virtual space is prohibited.
    17. Taking advantage [zloupotreblenie] of inadequate technological knowledge and skills of other users is inadmissible.
    18. Protecting the rights and interests of minors and those in need [or “disabled”] is a priority in ICT.
    19. Posting of unethical and illegal comments to information posted by other users is prohibited.
    20. Every person (user) shall be held responsible for the information she or he is disseminating.
    21. Every person (user) shall be held responsible for violating ethical standards in the virtual space of ICT.

    The document was developed jointly by the president’s office, state-run telecommunication agency, organizations representing the country’s internet and mobile service providers, and several NGOs. According to Radio Ozodi [tj], a working group including representatives from these organizations will shortly put together a commentary to this brief document.

    Although mainstream media in the country have largely ignored the presentation of the Ethics Code, netizens did notice the document. On Twitter, several Tajikistani users have discussed possible consequences of the adoption of this document.

    An “Ethics Code for an e-Citizen” has been discussed in Dushanbe #Tajikistan

    Is this a joke or what? How are they going to make people aware of this code? How will they punish those who do not observe [it]?

    Jasur Ashurov suggests that the authorities might have developed the ethical code in order to justify the blocking of websites that are used to disseminate content critical of the government. He recalls that Tajikistan has blocked access to several websites, including Facebook andYouTube, over the recent years:

    @du15yak30 They see that the opposition is actively using Facebook and Odnoklassniki [Russian social network service] and now all this hustle. They will now block websites due to their being unethical.

    He also revisits a recent story when Beg Zukhurov, the director of the country’s state-run telecommunications agency, invited Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to visit him and discuss the reasons why the social network was blocked in Tajikistan:

    @du15yak30 Or Beg [Zukhurov] will be calling Zuckerberg and asking him to delete certain users’ profile for not observing the code (:

    This image portrays smiling Tajik President as saying, "Have you read the Ethical Code? It was written by Beg [Zukhurov]". Image from Digital Tajikistan blog, used with permission.

    This image portrays smiling Tajik President as saying, “Have you read the Ethical Code? It was written by Beg [Zukhurov]“. Image from Digital Tajikistan blog, used with permission.

    On this image, Tajikistan's infamous telecommunications agency chief Beg Zukhurov is portrayed as saying, "Have you seen this Facebook? It is totally unethical". Image from Digital Tajikistan blog, used with permission.

    On this image, Tajikistan’s infamous telecommunications agency chief Beg Zukhurov is portrayed as saying, “Have you seen this Facebook? It is totally unethical”. Image from Digital Tajikistan blog, used with permission.

    Digital Tajikistan suggests that the development of the Ethics Code reflects a broader trend in Tajikistan:

    @jashurov @du15yak30 Overall, the authorities are now paying much closer attention to the internet. Now we have to be more careful about what we say. The big brother is watching us!

    Some netizens do not know what to make of the Ethics Code given that it tries to regulate so many things at once. Arzanda writes:

    This document looks like a salad, with everything mixed in it, from ‘Thou shalt not be loud when speaking on the phone’ to ‘Thou shalt speak Tajik’ to ‘Thou shalt not plagiarise’.

    Yet some believe that the country does indeed require such a document. Zukhra comments [tj] on Radio Ozodi:

    Бисьёр хуб мешуд, одоби муомилаи интернетиро ба тартиб меовардед, хеле беодобихо бисьёранд, ин хел муомила миллати точикро хеле ба пасти мезананд, баъзан чунон хакоратхои кабех ба назар мерасанд, умед дорам чорахои бехтарин ба ин хел инсонхо насиб мегардад!, ки дар оянда чукуртар фикру андеша карда баъд менависанд.

    It will be very good if you create some order in discussions on the internet. There are many uneducated [impolite] people there. Their discussions bring shame onto the Tajik nation. Sometimes they use terrible swear words. I hope [these] good measures will be to such people’s benefit and will cause these people to think carefully before writing [content on the internet].

    On this image, Tajik president is portrayed as telling a boy using a computer, "Before you open Facebook, read the Ethics Code". Image from Digital Tajikistan blog, used with permission.

    On this image, Tajik president is portrayed as telling a boy using a computer, “Before you open Facebook, read the Ethics Code”. Image from Digital Tajikistan blog, used with permission.

    It is not clear at the moment whether and how the authorities are going to use the ethics code. Tajikistan Monitor concludes:

    It remains to be seen what the authorities are going to do with this document. The code is not a law, which means that netizens cannot be formally penalized for not observing it. Yet, in Tajikistan with its unpredictable way of reacting to criticism on the internet, you never know.

    Note: Tajikistan Monitor is a blog run by the author of this story.

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    Why Rahmon Will Win the Elections Tomorrow: “Beer Shop” Explanation

    December 1st, 2013


    By Alexander Sodiqov.

    It is official now: most voters arriving at the polling stations tomorrow to vote in Tajikistan’s presidential elections will have no idea that they have options other than the incumbent president. Media have done a great job in debunking the illusion that there multiple candidates in this year’s elections.


    ASIA-Plus has interviewed people in Dushanbe, asking them which candidates they know of. Is anyone really surprised that Emomali Rahmon is the only candidate everyone recalls? What one can find surprising, however, is that although most people interviewed did not know of other candidates, they were still going to vote on the election day.


    [The video is in Russian. Watch this video with English subtitles here].

    Ozodagon has done a similar thing. Its journalists talked to people on the streets of Dushanbe, asking them which candidates they knew of and how many candidates were running for president. Again, Rahmon is the only candidate most people know of.

    [The video is in Tajik. Watch this video with English subtitles here].

    The Dushanbe mayor’s office has been busy making sure that the capital city’s residents know who to vote for. Thousands of people attended the “My President” event in Navruzgokh, the largest open-air event venue in the city, on November 4. The mayor set the tone for the event by announcing in his opening speech that “The capital chooses Emomali Rahmon. It was so, it is so, and it will remain so”:

    [Also, see photos from the event here].

    Rahmon’s huge posters and campaign materials are ubiquitous in the city. All other candidates are left with are boring Soviet-style posters filled with tiny text, hanging on bus stops and some buildings in the city.

    Beyond Dushanbe

    While the two videos above focus on voter awareness in Dushanbe, things are no different in other parts of the country. Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) has found [podcast in Tajik and Russian] that in the eastern Gorno-Badakhshan province, too, Rahmon is the only candidate most people know. In the southern regions of Kulob (Kulyab) and Qurghonteppa (Kurgan-Tube), the authorities are in fierce competition over who will be more vocal in demonstrating their support for the incumbent president. An interesting photo set from Kulob can be seen here.

    Image by ASIA-Plus.

    Kulob. Image by ASIA-Plus.

    In Qurghonteppa, the authorities also staged a massive “My President” campaign extolling the incumbent:

    The northern Sughd province has also joined in the campaign.

    Khujand, Image by ASIA-Plus.

    Khujand, Image by ASIA-Plus.

    ‘Beer Shop’ Theory of Why Rahmon Will Win

    What is interesting is that there are still people (mostly on Facebook) who seriously believe that tomorrow’s vote can have an unexpected result. Here is my explanation for why this is not going to happen. When I run out of beer, I go to the nearest beer shop to buy more. If I arrive at the shop and find that there is only one beer I know of (let it be Carlsberg lager) and five other brands I have never heard of, it is most likely that I will end up stocking up on Carlsberg. I might choose to try a different beer on a different occasion, but I will most probably want to stick to the familiar stuff if I am buying supplies for the next seven years. President Rahmon will win the elections because he is that familiar Carlsberg lager in a shop full of exotic and unknown beer brands.

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    Presidential Elections in Tajikistan: When Voters are Unaware or Don’t Care About Options

    September 26th, 2013



    By Alexander Sodiqov.

    I have no doubt that Emomali Rahmon will win the presidential elections on November 6. I am also confident that he will have an easy win. All social media buzz about Oynikhol Bobonazarova – and enthusiastic announcements made by other candidates – ignore one simple fact: most voters in Tajikistan are not aware of any other presidential candidate except Rahmon. This is not going to change during the six weeks remaining before the vote. Most voters will walk in the door at the polls on election day uninformed of their options beyond the incumbent president.

    There are two main reasons for the lack of awareness about candidates or their platforms on the part of voters in Tajikistan. First, candidates running against Rahmon do not have the resources and time to make themselves known to voters. The key resource they cannot access is airtime on state-owned television. A recent OSCE/ODIHR Needs Assessment Mission (NAM] report [pdf] notes that, “Television is the predominant source of political information” (p. 6) in the country. My own experience (and I talked to hundreds of people about where they got public information in 2008-2011) shows that state television is frequently the only source of political information for the majority of people in Tajikistan. The only exception are the areas where people speak Uzbek, as the Tajik language programming offered by the state television is not accessible to them. Most Uzbek speakers watch Russian or Uzbek TV (where it is accessible). It is obvious that candidates challenging Rahmon will not have access to airtime on state television outside of the 45 minutes guaranteed by the law (which is not going to be prime-time). In contrast, Rahmon is always on television – and everywhere else in the country.

    Of course the much more pluralistic print media and internet will provide some voters with all information they need about candidates. However, information from newspapers and online sources will be limited to voters living in major towns (mainly Dushanbe and Khujand), while more than 70 percent of the country’s population resides in rural areas. And even in Dushanbe, Khujand, and other towns, most people do not use internet (at least as a source of political information) and do not read newspapers.

    There is also a sizable group of eligible voters outside of the country, primarily in Russia. According to the authorities, about 900,000 voters, or slightly less than one-fourth of the country’s four million voters, reside abroad. Despite recent reports that opposition parties are actively working among Tajik labor migrants in Russia [ru], I would argue that most of them are even more deprived of information about presidential candidates than voters inside the country. I would even argue that at least half of the voters residing abroad will not even know that presidential elections are held in Tajikistan.

    Of course candidates, particularly Bobonazarova with two strong political parties behind her, will try to reach out to voters before the election day. However, they have too little time to do so (they cannot start campaigning before they are formally registered as candidates, which can take awhile) and will face many obstacles from the authorities and security services. Anyway, as a person who lived in Tajikistan and worked closely with political parties, I can say that their campaigning is normally limited to posting low-quality posters on residential buildings (most of which are torn down soon after being posted) and holding occasional meetings with voters (meetings that few voters are aware of ). As a result, people often do not know which candidates are on the ballot before the elections day. Obviously, the authorities try hard to keep it this way, preferring that voters think there is only one candidate. In addition to state television and thousands of portraits across the country, this candidate will have an army of loyal state servants and religious authorities to campaign for him.

    Hence, even if voters in Tajikistan were genuinely interested in knowing more about candidates other than the incumbent president, they would have little opportunity to find this information.

    Second, a large number of people in Tajikistan care too little about elections or any other political events. As OSCE/ODIHR rightly notes in its report [pdf], “there is a growing level of apathy, particularly among the youth” (p. 2). I remember a conversation I had with a university professor (who supposedly is a little bit better informed of political processes than an average voter) this summer in Dushanbe:

    Me: Who do you think will run for president during the elections this fall?

    Pr: This fall? Seriously? I thought we had elections recently… President Rahmon will run of course.

    Me: Who else? Do you know if any opposition candidates will run?

    Pr: I don’t really know. Maybe [Said Abdullo] Nuri.

    Me: Nuri? He passed away seven years ago.

    Pr: Really? I didn’t know. So, he is dead now?

    Me: Yes.

    Pr: Who leads the Islamist Party then?

    Me: Muhiddin Kabiri.

    Pr: Who is Muhiddin Kabiri? I have never heard of him. Why doesn’t [Hoji Akbar] Turajonzoda lead the party? Is he also dead?

    Me: No, he is alive. But he is not even a member of the party.

    Pr: Well, to be honest, I don’t care about politics. I know I will vote for Janobi Oli [Emomali Rahmon].

    This conversation (which is not in any way unusual for Tajikistan) shows how little voters in the country know about alternative candidates and how little many of them care about becoming better informed.

    So, I am sure that most voters in Tajikistan will head to the polls on November 6 aware of only one candidate competing for presidential office. The candidate’s portrait, or several portraits of all sizes, will remind voters of the only ‘correct’ choice they can make. And the voters will make this choice.

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    Journalist’s Stabbing a ‘Warning’ for Tajik Opposition

    April 8th, 2013

    By Alexander Sodiqov.

    A Tajik journalist and critic of the regime is in hospital after being stabbed in Moscow by an identified person late in the night on February 19.

    Bakhtiyor Sattori, who worked at the Tajik embassy in Moscow and then as the representative of the Tajik Migration Service in Russia, emerged as an outspoken critic of the authorities in his home country after being dismissed in 2012.

    Over the past months, Sattori has lived in Moscow, working as a journalist and cooperating with Tajik opposition activists in exile, notably with Umarali Quvvatov, leader of the opposition movement Group 24.

    Quvvatov was arrested in Dubai in December 2012 at the request of the Tajik authorities and may soon be extradited to Tajikistan.

    A Russian human rights activist who has worked closely with Sattori suggests [ru] that the assault on Sattori was a “political order,” and that the journalist was punished for his ties with Quvvatov and his recent attempts to mobilize international pressure in order to prevent the politician’s extradition to Tajikistan.

    It is unclear what the journalist himself makes of the attack. In his interview with Radio Ozodi, Sattori said [ru] he did not know whom to blame for an apparent attempt on his life.

    A bit later, however, he told [ru] BBC he knew who was behind the attack, suggesting also that this was a powerful person within the Tajik government.

    A taste of things to come?

    Bakhtiyor Sattori's public profile photo on Facebook.

    Bakhtiyor Sattori’s public profile photo on Facebook.

    The netizens in Tajikistan have little doubt that the attack against Sattori was politically motivated and that it was a taste of things to come in the months leading to presidential elections in the country due in November.

    Under the report about Sattori’s stabbing on news website, Ravshan_1980 commented [ru]:

    Все понятно: выборы впереди, правительство начало готовить очередную безоговорочную победу [действующего президента Эмомали Рахмона]. Всех недовольных и критикующих власти заранее убирают. Так было перед каждыми выборами в нашей стране.

    Everything is clear: we have the elections ahead, and the government has begun preparing the ground for another landslide victory for [the incumbent president Emomali Rahmon]. All those who are unhappy or critical [of the regime] are removed in advance. Same happened before all past elections in our country.

    Sattori is not the only Tajik journalist and critic of the government who has recently been brutally attacked in Russia. In January 2012, Dodojon Atovulloev, a Tajik dissident journalist and outspoken critic of the regime, was also stabbed by unidentified individuals in Moscow.

    Shaparaki Ovora posted [ru] on Twitter:

    @du15yak30 Еще одного таджикского оппозиционера в Москве убить пытались. Это уже избирательная кампания началась?

    @du15yak30 There was an attempt on the life of another Tajik opposition activist in Moscow. Is it part of an election campaign that has already begun?

    Tomiris responded [ru]:

    @tomiristj Нет, это еще не кампания – это зачистка перед кампанией. На самих выборах все будет чисто и красиво. Грязную работу сделают до [выборов].

    @tomiristj No, it is not the campaign yet – it is a clean-up before the campaign. The election itself will be clean and beautiful. The dirty work will be done before the election.

    Jasur Ashurov weighs in [ru]:

    @jashurov А может никакой связи с выборами нет – просто убирают и запугивают тех, кто слишком смело лает на власть из-за бугра.

    @jashurov Maybe the event is not related to elections, and the authorities simply remove and intimidate those who dare to bark at them from abroad.

    But Tajik Land insists [ru] the attack against Sattori is about elections:

    @tajikland Думаю это перед выборами предупреждают оппозицию чтобы не пытались раскачивать лодку и бунтовать.

    @tajikland I think it is a warning for opposition not to sway the boat or rebel before the elections.

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    Lenin in Tajikistan: ‘Better Hitler’ or ‘Real Hero’?

    January 28th, 2013


    By Alexander Sodiqov.

    On September 21, 1991, less than two weeks after Tajikistan proclaimed its independence from the Soviet Union, angry crowd toppled a monument to Vladimir Lenin in the center of Dushanbe. The removal of the monument symbolized the desperate rush of the nationalist intelligentsia and some politicians to rid themselves of all reminders of their communist past.

    The civil war that broke out soon afterwards delayed the demolition of many other monuments to the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution in the Central Asian republic. Only in the 2000s, when the leadership of Tajikistan embarked on a new nation-building project, Lenin’s monuments began to fall all over the country. ‘Grandfather Lenin’ disappeared from the central squares of major cities and towns in Tajikistan. His monuments were replaced with newly sculpted statues of Ismoili Somoni, a ruler who is credited with creating a Tajik empire in the tenth century.

    In most cities and towns of Tajikistan, Soviet monuments to Lenin were replaced with statues of Ismoili Somoni. This monument to Somoni stands on Dushanbe’s central square, right where Lenin’s statue was toppled in 1991. Photo by Alexander Sodiqov (2010).

    A ‘better Hitler’

    The government’s rush to take down Lenin’s sculptures has provoked heated debates among the country’s bloggers. Some have argued that the monuments of the Soviet period should be destroyed and forgotten because of all the pain and suffering that the Bolshevik conquest inflicted on the region.

    In December 2011, journalist Salim Aioubzod explained [tj] in his blog why there is no place for Lenin’s statues in the new Tajikistan:

    Ленин дар моҳи ноябри соли 1919 Михаил Фрунзеро ба ҳайси фармондеҳи Ҷабҳаи Туркистон ба Осиёи Марказӣ фиристод. Бо ин шиор, ки “мақсад ишғоли қаламрав нест, мақсад нобуд кардани ҳариф аст.” Барои ман инҳо далели кофиянд, ки ҳама чизи марбут ба Ленин ва шайкаи ӯ дар гулхан сӯзонида шавад. Пайкараҳои ӯро бояд барчид ва нобуд кард. Онҳо таърих нестанд, дарде таърих аст, ки аз он замон то ҳоло ва боз ҷовидонаҳо мардуми ҷаҳонро азият медиҳад.

    In November 1919, Lenin appointed Mikhail Frunze the commander of the Turkestan Front and sent him to Central Asia. The [reason for Frunze’s dispatch] “was not to conquer the territory, but to eliminate all enemies”. I believe this provides enough justification for burning everything related to Lenin and his gang. His sculptures should be collected and destroyed. They [sculptures] are not history; history is the pain that has tormented so many people ever since and will always continue to do so.

    After 21 years of Tajikistan’s independence, there are some statues and busts of Lenin remaining in the country. This photo depicts a big sculpture of Lenin in Istaravshan, northern Tajikistan. Image by Sergey Abashin (2012), used with author’s permission.

    The blogger also compared [tj] Lenin to Adolf Hitler, the leader of the fascist Germany:

    Агар пайкараҳо таъриханд, чаро дар Олмон пайкараҳои Адолф Ҳитлерро аз ҳама ҷо бардоштанд? Оре, Ленин Ҳитлери каме беҳтар буд, ҳарчанд шояд дар шумораи қурбониёни ҷангу террори онҳо тафовути зиёд нест. Миллионҳо нафар.

    If sculptures are [important for historical reasons], then why did Germany remove all statues of Adolf Hitler? Yes, Lenin was a slightly better Hitler, although there isn’t probably much difference in the number of people killed in the wars and terror the two individuals led. Millions of people [were their victims].

    More recently, on November 1, Tojikzamin continued the discussion. Perplexed by an observation that Lenin’s statues can still be found in schools across Tajikistan, the blogger claimed [tj]:

    Мо набояд аз он фаромӯш кунем, ки ҳайкал ин чизи безарар нест. Кӯдаконе ки дар муддати 11 соли хониш хар рӯз Ленинро мебинанд ҳеҷ гоҳ ватандӯстону миллатдӯстон намешаванд. Онхо доимо фикр мекунанд ки мо дар давлати Шуравӣ зиндагонӣ мекунем, яъне давлате ки аз тарафи Русия “матушка” роҳбарӣ мешавад. Ин кӯдакон доимо фикр мекунанд ки “бобои Ленин” кахрамони бузургтарини халқи тоҷик мебошад, ва аз кахрамонҳои аслии миллатамон бехабар мемонанд. Хузури даҳҳо ҳайкалхои Ленин дар ҷумҳурии соҳибистиқлоли мо барои тамоми тоҷикони ҷаҳон айб аст!

    We shouldn’t forget that statues are not harmless objects. Children which see Lenin every day during the 11 years of school will never love their Fatherland or their nation. They will always think that we still live in a Soviet state, the state that is governed by ‘mother Russia’. These children will always think that ‘Grandfather Lenin’ was the greatest hero of the Tajik people and will not know the real heroes of our nation. The continued presence of tens of monuments to Lenin in our independent republic disgraces all of the world’s Tajiks.

    This statue of Lenin long stood on the central square of Khorog, eastern Tajikistan, before being replaced in 2010 by a monument to Somoni. Photo by Alexander Sodiqov (2009)

    A ‘real hero’

    But some netizens think differently.

    Commenting on the removal of Lenin’s monument in Khujand, the northern Tajik city that had been called ‘Leninobod’ (the ‘City of Lenin’) between 1939-1992, Alexey Somin wrote [ru] in his blog:

    Разве этот памятник кому-то мешал? Разве мешал он нам строить новое государство, с новыми принципами и ценностями? Почему он просто не мог оставаться там, где стоял, и служить в качестве исторического памятника?

    Самое обидное, что памятники и бюсты Ленина убирают по всей стране, заменяя их памятниками Сомони. Зачем? Что такое сделал Сомони, что он заслужил стоять на месте Ленина? Да, когда-то давно он основал империю, в которой таджикский язык был государственным. Но эта империя никогда не называлась “Таджикистаном” и она развалилась через 100 лет. После этого у таджиков не было своего государства, они жили под гнетом тюркских народов. А при Ленине это государство появилось. Так кто же тогда сделал больше для таджиков и для Таджикистана?

    Did the monument disturb anyone? Did it prevent us from building a new state, based on new principles and values? Why couldn’t we just leave the monument to be where it was and to serve as a historical monument?

    The most offensive thing is that Lenin’s monuments and busts all over the country are replaced with monuments to Somoni. Why? What did Somoni do to deserve to replace Lenin? Yes, he did found an empire a long time ago where Tajik was the state language. But his empire was never called ‘Tajikistan’ and it collapsed after only 100 years. After that, the Tajiks did not have a state of their own, they lived under the yoke of the Turkic peoples. And in Lenin’s period [the Tajiks] got a state of their own. So who did more for the Tajiks and Tajikistan?

    A massive statue of Lenin long dominated the landscape of Khujand (previously ‘Leninobod’), in northern Tajikistan. Photo by Alexander Sodiqov (2003).

    Commenting under this blog, Dalnoboyshchik wrote [ru]:

    Полностью согласен! Памятники Ленину нужно оставить! Это наша история, её нужно уважать. Пусть ставят новые памятники, кому угодно, но и Ленина пусть не трогают. Одно другому не мешает. История рассудит кто был настоящим героем и больше сделал для нашей страны.

    I fully agree! Lenin’s statues should be left where they are! This is our history, it should be respected. Let them erect new monuments, to whomever they like, but they shouldn’t touch Lenin. History will show who was a real hero and who did more for our country.

    The last days of Lenin’s statue in Khujand. Image by Asia-PLUS, used with permission.

    What to do?

    These ongoing debates over monuments are representative of larger battles over values and interpretations of history within Tajik society. Meanwhile, some Tajik netizens also discuss what to do with the Soviet sculptures taken down by the authorities.

    Underneath Somin’s blog, Beparvo proposed[ru]:

    Да я согласен что Ленин исторический памятник. Но тогда он не должен стоять в центре каждого города и поселка в Таджикистане. Он должен быть в музее. Да не нужно выкидывать эти памятники или разрушать их. Это история. Нужно их акуратно и спокойно перенести в музей.

    I agree that Lenin’s statue is a historical monument. But in this case, this monument should not remain in the center of every town and village in Tajikistan. It should be in the museum. These monuments should not be disposed of or destroyed. They are history. They should be carefully and quietly taken to the museum.

    Temur Mengliev has a different opinion:

    Нужно поступить умнее. Наиболее важные с исторической и эстетической точки зрения памятники Ленину нужно перенести в музеи. А все остальные – а таких по Таджикистану сотни – нужно продать посредством аукциона. Есть ведь граждане, для которых Ленин много значит. Вот пусть и покупают эти памятники и устанавливают у себя во дворе или на даче.

    We should be smarter. The most important of Lenin’s statues – from the historical and aesthetic points of view – should be taken to the museum. And the rest of the statues – of which there are hundreds across Tajikistan – should be auctioned. There are citizens for whom Lenin means much. Let them purchase these monuments and place them in their yards or in dachas.

    21 years into independence, some Tajiks still revere Lenin. In Varzob, some 40 kilometers north of Dushanbe, a granite bas-relief of Lenin decorates a newly-built mansion. Photo by Christian Mark Bleuer (2012), used with permission.

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