after Uzbek police accused of singling out Kyrgyz nationals in house-to-house 
search.  By Chinara Karimova in Chek

FIRST SIGNS OF RULING DYNASTY IN TAJIKISTAN  Tajik president’s son seems to be 
heading towards mainstream politics.  By Khayri Kiyamova in Dushanbe

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Mutual suspicion reigns after Uzbek police accused of singling out Kyrgyz 
nationals in house-to-house search. 

By Chinara Karimova in Chek

Tensions remain high in a village on the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border following a raid 
by Uzbek police last month which sparked a diplomatic protest from Bishkek.

Everyone agrees that Uzbek police raided homes in the village of Chek on April 
19. Beyond that, the details and interpretation of what happened differ 
according to whether the account is Kyrgyz or Uzbek.

A protest note which the Kyrgyz foreign ministry passed to the Uzbek ambassador 
on April 30 said armed border guards and police with batons conducted a 
house-to-house search on homes belonging to citizens of Kyrgyzstan.

The ministry criticised the police for singling out Kyrgyz nationals in the 

“According to eyewitness evidence, the inspection of [identity] documents and 
the house searches were conducted selectively, and only for people with Kyrgyz 
citizenship,” it said, adding that police officer behaved inappropriately and 
subjected residents to verbal abuse. 

The village of Chek is divided between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan by a canal 
that runs through it and forms a natural boundary. Administratively, that means 
there are really two settlements – one in Kyrgyzstan’s Nooken district, and 
another, formally called Yangi Chek, in the Pakhtaabad district of Uzbekistan.

There has been no formal demarcation of the border here and – until the row 
about the police raid flared up – no frontier posts dividing the settlement. 

Eyewitness accounts indicate that the police raids took place on the Uzbek side 
of the river, in an area where most residents are nationals of Kyrgyzstan. The 
lack of clear boundaries coupled with custom and practice has led these people, 
and their compatriots on the other side of the river, to believe that these 
homes lie within Kyrgyzstan, or that they should. 

This assumption is implicit in many of the statements coming out of Kyrgyzstan.

Immediately after the raid, a group of angry residents wrote to Kyrgyz 
president Kurmanbek Bakiev asking him to safeguard their rights – the 
implication being that his country’s sovereignty was involved.

The foreign ministry statement similarly suggested that the Uzbek action 
represented an unwarranted intrusion, describing it as “openly provocative” and 
saying it “went beyond all international and legal agreements”. 

In an unusually strongly-worded statement, the ministry asked the government in 
Tashkent to ensure all those responsible were held to account.

That seems unlikely to happen, given the frosty response from Uzbekistan’s 
border guards service, which was published on May 8 by Russian news agency 
Regnum Novosti.

The statement rejected the Kyrgyz foreign ministry’s claim that the raids were 
illegal, saying that they were intended to check people’s passports and took 
place inside Uzbekistan. 

It also said that protest notes like the one issued by the Kyrgyz could 
“complicate and destabilise the situation on the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border”.

Mirzaolim Ahmadjonov, deputy head of the Pakhtaabad district, under which the 
Uzbek part of Chek comes administratively, justified the need for the house 

“These actions were carried out in order to check for smuggled goods passing 
through Uzbek territory,” he said.

Ahmadjonov denied that any pressure was put on locals who hold Kyrgyz 
passports, adding, “This was in no way about forcing people to move out.”

Aliyarbek Musaev, whose home was one of those raided, told IWPR, “They checked 
the house contents to see whether there were any smuggled goods. They also 
searched through foodstuffs. When they came across two or three sacks of flour, 
they asked why these stocks were being held and tried to take them away. They 
also looked also at fertilisers [stored] for the sowing season, asked where 
they’d come from and who had supplied them.”

Smuggling is certainly an issue on this porous border, with consumer goods 
going into Uzbekistan and cotton going the other way. 

However, the Uzbek police may also have been looking for other things, as 
Musaev’s comments about fertiliser indicate.

A Tashkent-based analyst, who asked to remain anonymous, said explained that 
what Uzbek law enforcement officers did is a usual practice in his country, 

“In Uzbekistan, villagers are not allowed to store large amounts of fertilisers 
as they contain potassium nitrate. That can be used to make explosives which 
opponents of [Uzbek president Islam] Karimov’s rule could use to committing 
acts of terrorism.”

He acknowledged that citizens of Kyrgyzstan, where things are done differently, 
might find Uzbek policing methods “clumsy and offensive”. 

Salamat Alamanov, who heads the government department for regional affairs in 
Bishkek, took a different line from that heard in other Kyrgyz statements, 
indicating that the community involved did live inside Uzbekistan. 

That left two possible solutions, he said in an interview for IWPR. “One is 
that these 24 Kyrgyz families take out Uzbek citizenship. The other is that the 
Kyrgyz authorities resettle them inside Kyrgyzstan,” he said, 

Following the incident, Uzbek border guards erected a frontier post at the 
bridge which crosses the canal.

“Now we are surrounded, as the Uzbeks have set up a frontier post at the 
outskirts of the village,” said Manajan Bojoev, whose home is on the Uzbek side 
of the checkpoint. “They won’t allow any of our relatives to visit us, and we 
can go across only if we show our passports.”

People like Bojoev are concerned that nothing is being done to defuse the 
situation. They say the Uzbek authorities have not responded well to 
complaints, and accuse the Kyrgyz government of failure to take swift and 
resolute action.

“The [Kyrgyz] government is ignoring us. We wrote to the president asking him 
to defend our rights. After that, Uzbek border guards visited our homes and 
threatened us. Since then, the tension has increased and we feel under threat. 
We don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

A preliminary attempt to hold talks on the dispute was set for May 3, when 
Kyrgyz officials from Jalalabad’s regional government and law enforcement were 
due to meet their counterparts from Pakhtaabad district. However, the Jalalabad 
governor’s spokesman Orozali Karasartov said the Uzbeks did not turn up. 

A meeting finally took place in the nearby Uzbek city of Andijan on May 12 
involving regional governors from both sides and police and officials from 
Pakhtaabad and Nooken, the districts to which the Uzbek and Kyrgyz parts of 
Chek belong. 

The claim that Kyrgyzstan should have sovereignty over the pocket of land on 
the Uzbek side of the canal is one of about 70 unresolved questions along the 
1,400 kilometre border between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Speaking at a meeting four days after the police raid, Kyrgyz prime-minister 
Igor Chudinov said there was some disagreement about which Soviet-era boundary 
decisions were applicable. One of these documents dates back to 1924, setting 
out what was then merely an administrative boundary between two republics of 
the USSR. This focused on which ethnic groups lived where, while a later ruling 
from 1956 amended some borders to create what was meant to be a more rational 
distribution of economic resources.

“The first draft was based on drawing borders according to where people were 
located, while the second one demarcated the frontier according to economic 
assets,” he explained. 

An Uzbek official who asked to remain anonymous said merely that the process of 
defining boundaries was problematic, saying, “A lack of funding and effort on 
the Kyrgyz side is hindering the successful completion of border demarcation.”

The Kyrgyz residents are sticking to their guns, with community leader 
Salimurza Jumabaev insisting he has proof of Kyrgyz sovereignty and warning, 
“If our [part of the] village is ceded to Uzbekistan, we will move out, we 
won’t stay. Then either the Uzbeks or Kyrgyzstan should pay us compensation to 
build houses in other areas.”

He added, “One policeman, a soldier and a member of public selected by a 
village meeting will be on duty around the clock. Now we are being careful, as 
we’re fearful of conflicts and problems.”

The foreign ministry statement on the police raids in Chek is not the first 
time the Kyrgyz have sent protests to the Uzbek government in recent times. 
Last June, a protest note was sent when two Kyrgyz police officers were 
detained by their Uzbek counterparts while driving along a road that traverses 
both countries. Earlier the same month, residents of Nooken district beat up 
and disarmed two Uzbek border guards who tried to arrest a suspected smuggler.

Some analysts note that the Chek incident comes amid a general deterioration of 
relations between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, caused by disagreements over water 
and energy. The Uzbeks are unhappy about their neighbours’ plans to build new 
hydroelectric schemes on rivers that, downstream, supply them with water. 
Tashkent fears the dams will deprive them of irrigation, especially in the peak 
spring and summer seasons.

The Chek incident took place just over a week before the five Central Asian 
presidents gathered in Almaty to discuss these issues. Instead of achieving 
progress, the meeting saw public recriminations traded among the region’s 
leaders, which highlighted the divide between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, which 
have water but few other energy resources, and Uzbekistan, Kazakstan and 
Turkmenistan, which depend on the former two for water flows but have plenty of 
oil and gas.

Begaly Nargozuev, a member of the Kyrgyz parliament from the governing Ak Jol 
party, is certain what happened in Chek was a calculated move.

“I think this is another provocation. We’ve started talking openly about our 
plans for the river Naryn,” he told IWPR. So the Uzbeks have resorted to such 
actions in order to threaten us.”

A businessman in Uzbekistan, who asked not to be named, expressed similar 

“One gets the impression that in Chek, our police were demonstrating how they 
can flex their muscles,” he said. 

Kyrgyz political analyst Mars Sariev believes Tashkent might be trying to test 
the resolve of the Kyrgyz government. 

“I think it’s a way of putting pressure on Kyrgyzstan and at the same time 
testing the strength of the country’s government,” he said. “This could create 
an explosive situation in Kyrgyzstan, because if central authority is weak, 
[it] cannot ensure territorial integrity, and this would create instability. 

As the Kyrgyz parliament makes plans to discuss the Chek controversy, another 
Akjol member, Ibrahim Junusov, called for an inclusive negotiating process 
involving various tiers of government from both sides.

“If we don’t solve these problems soon, they will only get worse. It’s 
important that when decisions are taken, all sides are present and are able to 
come to some mutually acceptable conclusion,” he said. “Such matters need to be 
solved not just by government officials, but also with the involvement of 
people from the areas concerned.”

Chinara Karimova is a pseudonym for a journalist in Kyrgyzstan. An Uzbek 
journalist who asked not to be named contributed to this report.


Tajik president’s son seems to be heading towards mainstream politics.

By Khayri Kiyamova in Dushanbe

The son of Tajik president Imomali Rahmon is being seen as a rising star on the 
political scene after taking a top post in a national youth organisation. 

Rustam Imomali, 23, was elected as deputy chairman of the Youth Union on April 

The association, which is quasi-governmental and operates under the state 
committee for youth affairs, is the successor to the Komsomol, the Communist 
youth organisation of Soviet times. With the trade union federation, it is one 
of only two public associations that has the right to collectively nominate a 
presidential candidate.

Rustam Imomali, who has taken his father’s first name as his surname, is the 
elder of the two sons and one of a total of nine children. He currently works 
at the government’s investment and state property agency, as well as attending 
some classes at the elite Diplomatic Academy in Moscow. He is also a patron of 
Istiqlol, a football club in Dushanbe, and is even said to play for the team on 

Many analysts believe Rustam’s elevation could be an attempt to test the water 
for a political career – perhaps even to step into his father’s shoes one day. 
But this would be a long-term plan, as he will not have reached the required 
age of 35 by the time the next presidential election comes round in 2013. 

Rahmon, who has held office uninterrupted since 1991, would be eligible to 
stand again under a constitutional change dating from 2003. With the seven-year 
term that is now the rule, he could be head of state until 2020. 

Two of Rustam’s sisters have already made names for themselves – Ozoda, is head 
of the foreign ministry’s consular department, while Tahmina runs a successful 

Although daughters of other Central Asian leaders, such as Dariga Nazarbaeva in 
Kazakstan and Gulnara Karimova in Uzbekistan, have combined business with 
public life, in Tajikistan’s case the choice could fall on Rustam as the elder 

Political analyst Rustam Samiev is clear that this is the launch of a dynasty. 
“The president and his entourage want to stay in power for many decades to 
come,” he said.

But another analyst, Rashid Abdullo, said the phenomenon of families involved 
in high politics was not unique to Central Asia. 

“The United States has had dynasties occupying senior government posts – the 
Kennedies, the Bush family and now the Clintons,” he said, noting that there 
were also similar trends in Syria and Libya.

Other analysts point to the experience in other Central Asian states and nearby 
Azerbaijan, where the success of presidential dynasties has been variable.

In Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliev, who had been in charge on and off since the 1960s, 
was succeeded by his son Ilham when he died in 2003. 

But as well-known journalist Rajabi Mirzo points out, there is one thing that 
sets Azerbaijan apart from Tajikistan. “The [Ilham] Aliev case was a success 
because this is a country rich in oil and gas,” he said, noting that countries 
like Tajikistan was “rich only in the mass of impoverished people”.

Taking an example closer to home, Mirzo recalled that one of the factors that 
turned the popular mood against Kyrgyz president Askar Akaev and led to him 
being ousted in 2005 was the perception that family members were exploiting 
their connections to build power, influence and wealth. 

At one point, the president’s son Aydar Akaev was tipped for a political career.

“We still remember how there was a similar impulse [to promote family members] 
in Kyrgyzstan, and how that ended,” said Mirzo.

The abrupt transition of power in Kyrgyzstan has not changed things, and the 
sense of public unease there remains as strong as ever. 

Samiev noted that present leader Kurmanbek Bakiev’s reputation has also been 
damaged by the alleged misbehaviour of relatives. 

“Having the offspring of the Kyrgyz president participating in politics did not 
do their father any favours – people still don’t trust the president,” he said. 

An alternative explanation for Rustam’s promotion is that the Youth Union is 
trying to win favour with President Rahmon, so as to bring the group closer to 
the centre of political decision-making.

They might well have reason to do that, say some, as the Youth Union appears to 
be flagging.

Dilshod Kurbanov, a representative of the state committee for youth affairs, 
told IWPR that the union is in need of a shake-up. It plays little role in 
public life, he said, because young people in Tajikistan are uninterested in 
politics and are preoccupied with their own problems.

Kurbonov hopes Rustam will help breathe new life into the organisation. 

The Youth Union has a large pool of potential recruits, in a country where 35 
per cent of the population are aged between 15 and 30. However, the majority of 
the hundreds of thousands of Tajiks working as migrants in Russia and Kazakstan 
fall into this age range of 20 to 30.

Khayri Kiyamova is a pseudonym for a journalist in Dushanbe. 

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