The dark plots of Tajikistan
by Vladimir Rozanskij

The high profile arrest in Dushanbe, the excellentof the founder of a Tajik-Iranian clinic with ties to the national security leadership has President Rakhmon's supporters crying out for a conspiracy to change the course of local politics. Underlying the measure was a book containing criticism of various regional authorities, but also theses on the superiority of some citizens over others on the basis of ethnic-religious characteristics.

Dushanbe (AsiaNews) - The mystery is deepening in Tajikistan in the case of Abdukhalil Kholikzoda, founder and owner of the Ibn Sino Tajik-Iranian clinic, who may even be hiding a plan to seize power and change the course of Tajik politics.

His arrest on August 7 was linked to some of his reflections published in the book he wrote "The events of my life", released last March. The Supreme Court of Tajikistan had upheld the arrest warrant, for which the prosecution had advanced charges of "inciting social, racial, national, regional and religious (confessional) hostility" and even "preventively organized conspiracy for the purpose of conflict inside the republic".

Kholikzoda's book had aroused many emotional reactions, claiming the superiority of some citizens over others on the basis of ethno-religious characteristics, a thesis reiterated in various public interventions, on the internet and in the national media, and the author now risks a sentence of two at five years old. According to many observers, preventative imprisonment indicates a very high assessment of the risks associated with the personality of the owner of the clinic.

People close to Abdukhalil consider him a "true patriot", assuring that he has never even thought of leaving the country, after the strong reactions to his book and the widespread threats of arrest since the early days. Kholikzoda, moreover, is a friend of the president of the National Security Committee (GKNB) Saidmumin Jatimov, and of the Minister of the Interior Ramazon Rakhimzoda.

The book criticizes several regional authorities of Tajikistan, with strong concerns about the atmosphere regarding commercial activities in the country, and the author guarantees that he wrote everything by himself, without "external conspiracies, indeed largely while I was abroad". However, the journalist Abdukodir Rustam was also arrested with him, who assisted Kholikzoda in drafting the text.

According to sources close to the government and the presidency, who have remained anonymous in their confidences with Radio Ozody, the suspicions of a conspiracy against the state are fueled precisely by Kholikzoda's friendships with the heads of national security. Several events narrated in the text in fact come from confidences of Jatimov and Rakhimzoda, published with their consent.

The attorney general would therefore have seized the opportunity to discredit internal enemies of the power structures in the eyes of President Emomali Rakhmon, with the support of the Supreme Court, whose intervention in the matter appeared to everyone to be decidedly exaggerated.

The discussion on "The events of my life" had also been relaunched by a group of people on Facebook, accusing the author of offending the inhabitants of certain regions of Tajikistan, and this had attracted the interest of the prosecution, especially after some pages had been eliminated by order of the Gknb.

Three Facebook users admitted to having been contacted by security agents, with the pretension of giving up criticism against Kholikzoda. In mid-July, the issue was presented by the attorney general Yusuf Rakhmon (brother-in-law of the president) at the meeting of the presidential administration, demanding the arrest of the author of the book and railing against his "protectors" present at the session.

On August 30, the Dzhumkhuriat newspaper, the official organ of the government of Tajikistan, published a criticism by an authoritative literary critic, Abdudzhabbor Rakhmonzodi, Dushanbe's ambassador to Uzbekistan, according to whom the stories narrated are intended to defame the organs of the forces of the Tajik order, starting right from the attorney general with allusions to episodes of corruption.

According to the Tajik poet Isfandiyori Nazar, who lives abroad and whose opinion is very influential in the country, "the entrepreneur and writer fell victim to the internal war at the top of the institutions", and in reality the book did not deserve the indictment . Many want to take over Kholikzoda's business, Nazar believes, and it is "hard to believe that President Emomali Rakhmon is unaware of these plots".

The book that created so much scandal has been withdrawn from all newsstands and bookshops in the country, and now everyone is holding their breath to understand how the story will end, which could involve many other people. According to some, there are also links with Tajik opponents abroad, members of radical Islamic groups who have always been in conflict with Rakhmon, and the consequences could be truly unpredictable.