Tajikistan. Immediately after the New Year, the Pamir Mountains in eastern Tajikistan were hit by a severe earthquake that left many people homeless in severe cold. As winter passed in unusually sudden heat, large snowfalls followed, which isolated tens of thousands of mountain dwellers and demanded death victims. According to COUNTRYAAH, Tajikistan has a population of 9.101 million (2018). The fall of the spring then caused landslides with many casualties in hard-to-reach areas.
The undemocratic regime retained its strong grip. When the parliamentary elections were held in February, the outcome was given. According to the official result, the People’s Democratic Party, which despite the name is a political tool for President Emomali Rachmon, received 71 percent of the vote and 55 out of 63 seats in Parliament’s House of Commons. The Communist Party with 8.2 percent and the Islamic Renewal Party with 7 percent had to settle for two terms each.
The opposition pointed to many cases of electoral fraud and was supported by election observers from the OSCE, who stated that the election was not free and fair.
In the local elections held in parallel, the president’s son Rustam Emomali took a seat in the Dushanbe municipal government. The 23-year-old elite football player with expensive habits is considered to succeed his father. A daughter of the president is Deputy Foreign Minister.
When 25 prisoners convicted of terrorist plans, murders and coup attempts killed guards and managed to escape from a prison in Dushanbe, the military went on offensive against growing militant Islamists in the poor Rajasthan Valley. There, the dissatisfaction with the regime is strong and guerrilla leaders have remained there since the 1990s civil war. People’s dissatisfaction is partly due to a disputed dam construction that threatens to put over 60 villages under water. The military’s offensive led to major losses in battles with rebels backed by foreign mercenaries.
In September, a suicide attack was carried out against a police station in the city of Chudzjand in the Fergana Valley. Two police officers were killed and many injured. According to the regime, Uzbekistan’s Islamist movement (IMU) was behind it. The movement has strengthened in recent years and is considered to have ties to the al-Qaeda terror network. The council was supposed to take revenge for the regime seizing over a hundred opposition supporters and opponents accused of belonging to illegal groups, mainly Islamist. Shortly after the suicide bombing, a bomb exploded at a nightclub in the capital, Dusjanbe, with injuries as a result.
In October, the regime hit about twenty underground Islamic schools with about 190 pupils in the southern part of the country. In November, the regime claimed that the anti-terrorist campaign launched in September had been successful and only a handful of opponents remained.
Three independent weekly magazines that reported on the military offensive in Rasht Valley were prevented from printing their newspapers during the fall. Several Western ambassadors protested, and after a six-week break, a couple of the magazines, Farazh and Nigoh, were able to come out again.