KYRGYZ OPPOSITION MP UNDER PRESSURE  Kubanychbek Kadyrov could now face 
charges, in what his opposition colleagues see as a politically-inspired 
campaign to marginalise government critic.  By Anara Yusupova in Bishkek

CONCERN OVER NEW TAJIK LANGUAGE LAW  Critics warn effort to make Tajik 
compulsory discriminates against those who mainly speak Russian.  Nafisa 
Pisaredjeva in Dushanbe

UZBEKISTAN LOSING ITS SCIENTISTS  Qualified scientists can earn far more money 
and respect by taking their skills abroad.  By IWPR staff in Central Asia

TAJIKS INCANDESCENT OVER LIGHT BULB BAN  Energy-saving bulbs are too expensive 
for most people, and should never have been imposed by decree, say critics of 
new scheme.  By Lola Olimova and Nafisa Pisaredjeva in Dushanbe

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Kubanychbek Kadyrov could now face charges, in what his opposition colleagues 
see as a politically-inspired campaign to marginalise government critic.

By Anara Yusupova in Bishkek

Opposition politicians in Kyrgyzstan have expressed outrage that a colleague 
has been stripped of his parliamentary immunity so that prosecutors can 
question and possibly charge him. The prosecution service, meanwhile, argues 
that Kubanychbek Kadyrov has been using his immunity to obstruct an 
investigation into unrest during the July presidential election.

Parliament, which is dominated by the governing Ak Jol party, voted on 
September 18 to strip Kadyrov of his statutory rights to immunity.

The prosecution service requested the move on the grounds that it suspected 
Kadyrov, a member of the opposition Social Democratic Party, of being behind 
disturbances that broke out in Balykchi, a town on the shores of Lake Issykkul, 
as voters went to the polls on July 23. 

After opposition supporters clashed with police during a protest against the 
conduct of the election, 20 arrests were made. The trial of the 19 who were 
eventually charged began on September 11. As well as causing public disorder 
and disrupting the electoral process, they also stand accused of the more 
serious offence of “attempting to seize power”, which effectively means 
mounting a coup d’etat. They deny the charge. 

Although small demonstrations were staged in other parts of Kyrgyzstan, there 
is little evidence to suggest any ambition to overthrow the government. 
Statements by opposition leaders and demonstrators have focused on the argument 
that the election was stolen by incumbent president Kurmanbek Bakiev’s backers 
through various kinds of election fraud.

The national election body said Bakiev won overwhelmingly with 76 per cent of 
the vote. His nearest challenger, Almazbek Atambaev, the Social Democrats’ 
leader nominated by the United People’s Movement, UPM, a coalition of 
opposition parties, was awarded just eight per cent. 

Atambaev believes Kadyrov is being punished for taking a stand during the 

“The authorities are persecuting dissidents and anyone who speaks out about the 
mass fraud in the presidential election,” he said.

Omurbek Tekebaev, who leads the Ata Meken, also part of the UPM coalition, 
accuses the parliamentary majority of pandering to the authorities. 

“The Ak Jol members dutifully carried out their orders,” he said. “These 
actions mark a new phase in the intimidation of political opponents.”

However, Ulugbek Ormonov, who leads the Ak Jol parliamentary group, insisted 
that the decision to remove Kadyrov’s immunity had nothing to do with politics 
and could not be construed as a tactic to smear the opposition.

“The decision was taken not in order to put Kadyrov behind bars, but to ensure 
he does not obstruct the investigation by citing immunity,” he said. “A court 
will decide whether he is guilty or not.”

Isa Omurkulov of the Social Democrats’ parliamentary group said there had been 
no need for legislators to act against Kadyrov, as his party was keen to see 
him cooperating with the Balykchi investigation.

The parliamentary vote came as another Social Democrat in parliament, Baktybek 
Beshimov, left the country and issued a statement saying he had received death 
threats. In the September 28 statement, he also condemned the action taken 
against Kadyrov, saying this had “completed the destruction of the 

Kyrgyz prosecutor-general Elmurza Satybaldiev told IWPR that Beshimov had not 
informed the authorities of any death threat. 

“There was no threat to his life. There was no written complaint from him,” he 

Although the two cases are different, some analysts see them as part of a 
larger effort to neutralise the opposition by hounding the more uncompromising 
figures like Beshimov, and coopting those with more moderate views.

“The moderate opposition will remain in politics if it changes its strategy, 
while the radicals will be excluded,” said political analyst Mars Sariev.

There are indications that elements within the UPM are making tentatively 
attempts to engage with the Bakiev administration.

However, Azimbek Beknazarov, a leading UPM figure, told IWPR that dialogue 
would be possible only on the opposition’s terms.

“Leaders of the united opposition are prepared to sit down at the negotiating 
table with President Bakiev, to discuss an end to the persecution of his 
political opponents,” he said, adding that the Balykchi trial would be one of 
the issues raised.

Anara Yusupova is a pseudonym for a journalist in Kyrgyzstan.


Critics warn effort to make Tajik compulsory discriminates against those who 
mainly speak Russian.

Nafisa Pisaredjeva in Dushanbe

A new law making Tajik the only language acceptable for official use is likely 
to create discrimination against those who do not speak it well, critics say. 

The special status previously enjoyed by Russian is omitted from the law, 
passed by the lower house of Tajikistan’s parliament on October 1 and approved 
by the upper chamber two days later, leading to fears that the country’s close 
political and economic relationship with Russia could suffer.

The law makes it mandatory to use Tajik in official communications, and appears 
to leave out the option of using Russian. 

As in the last law, adopted in 1989 in the last years of Soviet rule, Tajik is 
designated the country’s “official language”. What has changed is that Russian 
is no longer accorded unique recognition as “the language of interethnic 

Instead, the law speaks generally of the right to use “other languages” in 
daily life, and guarantees that there will be no obstructions to this. 

As well as being the mother tongue of the now small Slavic population in 
Tajikistan, Russian is commonly used as lingua franca. Non-native Tajik 
speakers include the substantial Uzbek minority and a clutch of ethnic groups 
in Badakhshan whose Iranian languages differ substantially to Tajik, a form of 

Supporters of the new law have pointed out that Russian’s special place remains 
in enshrined in the constitution, and their aim is merely to encourage Tajiks 
to speak their language as much as possible, instead of switching to spoken and 
written Russian when conducting official business.

President Imomali Rahmon proposed the new legislation on the annual Language 
Day on June 22, as part of a campaign to boost the use of Tajik in public life. 

Few would contest this aim, but many have been unsettled by a clause requiring 
every citizen to have a knowledge of Tajik. As the Senate or the upper house of 
parliament gathered on October 3 to approve the bill, its chairman Mahmadsaid 
Ubaidulloev said, “It is unpatriotic to be a citizen of the republic and not to 
know the state language.”

Earlier, in a lower house dominated by the president’s People’s Democratic 
Party, the bill had gone through virtually unopposed. Only Communist Leader 
Shodi Shabdolov stood up to criticise it. He said the provision requiring a 
knowledge of Tajik should really only apply for people seeking work in the 
public sector, and called for Russian to get its legal status back. 

Opponents of the move point to Tajikistan’s cultural, political and economic 
ties with Russia. 

An estimated one to 1.5 million migrants work mainly in Russia and Kazakstan 
and the money they send home contributes 30-40 per cent of Tajikistan’s gross 
domestic product, according to World Bank figures. To operate abroad, they need 
a good working knowledge of Russian.

Dushanbe-based sociologist Galina Sobirova told IWPR, “Russian is needed by our 
labour migrants, and by the officials and public figures who represent 
Tajikistan in the Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS; former Soviet bloc], 
and it therefore deserves special treatment.”

Journalist Khurshed Atovullo expressed a similar view. “If we want our labour 
migrants to avoid running into difficulties in Russia and to help our economy, 
then we should pay as much attention to Russian as to Tajik.” 

The issue was sufficiently important to the Kremlin for President Dmitry 
Medvedev to raise it on a visit to Dushanbe in July for a security summit with 
leaders from Tajikistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

Following the meeting, Sergei Prikhodko, aide to the Russian president, told 
reporters that the delegation had been reassured by Rahmon that Tajikistan was 
still committed to the use of the Russian language.

Journalist Jovid Mukim, who supports the new legislation, says he does not 
believe the role of Russian will recede as a result. 

“As long as we have relations with Russia and CIS countries, it will remain and 
it won’t lose its status,” he said.

He believes the 1989 law, which made Tajik the number one language for the 
first time, has failed to deliver, because Russian still prevails in public 
life and many Tajik officials do not speak their own mother tongue.

“Over 20 years, the law could have brought a lot of change but failed to do so. 
The new legislation should fill these gaps,” he said.

The deputy director of Tajikistan’s Centre for Strategic Studies, Saifullo 
Safarov, agreed that a change in the softly-softly approach towards government 
officials was long overdue. 

“For 18 years, we were soft on bureaucrats who didn’t know Tajik. We arranged 
language courses for them, but many have not taken it seriously,” he said. 
“Other ethnic groups may use Russian – no one is forbidding them to do so, and 
this is enshrined in the constitution.”

The importance of Russian has gradually been eroded since 1991, when Tajikistan 
became independent. There are 15 schools and one university left that use it as 
their teaching medium. Russian-language newspapers and radio stations still 
exist, but mostly in urban areas. 

Critics fear the new law could encourage over-zealous bureaucrats to 
discriminate against other communities. Some say it already happens. 

Zebo, a 30-year-old Dushanbe resident whose father is Tajik and mother is 
Russian, recalled how an airport official refused to reply to her in Russian.

“At the airport information desk a young woman replied in Tajik to my question 
[in Russian], and cited instructions to speak only Tajik,” she said. “I did not 
understand her and it was only because I know my rights that I got her to reply 
in Russian.”

Another Dushanbe resident, 30-year old ??dina, said that during a recent visit 
to the public notary, a staff member refused to deal with her request unless 
she spoke in Tajik.

“I fear that when the bill becomes law, I will have problems communicating with 
officials,” she added. 

According to Communist leader Shabdolov, “We’re aware that even now there are 
complaints about people getting told off for not speaking Tajik. Those who 
don’t speak Tajik for one reason or another will now be penalised.”

Fines are envisaged for breaking the new law, although it remains far from 
clear what would constitute an offence, for instance refusing to fill out a 
form in Tajik.

During the parliamentary debate, one member of parliament raised perhaps the 
most practical objection of all. 

Ismoil Talbakov pointed out that at a time when Tajikistan’s economy is in deep 
trouble, and that it was going to cost immense amounts of money to produce 
Tajik translations of the Russian-language documentation of some 100,000 
institutions, companies and farms.

Nafisa Pisaredjeva is an IWPR-trained journalist in Tajikistan.


Qualified scientists can earn far more money and respect by taking their skills 

By IWPR staff in Central Asia

As recent graduates and longer-established academics from Uzbekistan continue 
to chase better opportunities abroad, experts warn that the decline in 
scientific research will have a long-term impact on the country’s economy. They 
say the key factors prompting the exodus are the chronic under-funding of 
science in Uzbekistan and the low pay that graduates can expect. 

Although no official statistics are available, some estimates put the 
brain-drain at several hundred a year. Those leaving the country include 
mathematicians, physicists and chemists, who feel underpaid and undervalued at 

“The brain-drain is a real problem in our country,” said a professor at the 
National University of Uzbekistan, who asked not to be named.

Of the 50,000 students who graduate from Uzbek universities every year, around 
40 per cent get jobs in science-based industries, while the rest either find 
work in other areas or emigrate.

“Educated young people are leaving for one simple reason – it’s impossible to 
survive on the salary of a junior- or senior-level researcher,” said Usein 
Kerimov, a lecturer at the National University. “When I talk to young people, I 
often hear them saying there’s nothing for them to do here, so it’s time for 
them to leave,” 

On average, scientific researchers in Uzbekistan earn 120 US dollars a month, 
whereas they can expect salaries of up to 1,000 dollars if they move to Russia, 
as many do. In recent years, southeast Asian countries like Singapore and 
Malaysia have joined Russia as become magnets for Uzbek graduates as their 
standard of proficiency in English has risen.

According to Ilhom Atakhanov, who works at the Institute for Algorithms and 
Cybernetics in Tashkent, young scientists often feel their skills will not be 
used if they remain. 

“There are a lot of talented scientists, but in recent years, funding for 
science has fallen sharply and dozens of experts have gone into other areas. 
Most have gone abroad, where they are paid good money and are in demand. Those 
who remain here are working [purely] out of passion,” he said.

A lecturer at the Institute for Chemical Technology who asked to remain 
anonymous predicted that state neglect of research would prove damaging for 
Uzbekistan’s industrial sector.

“Just look what’s happening in the institutions under the Academy of Sciences – 
there’s nothing left there. There are no specialists left. What kind of 
scientific capacity can there be if the sums allocated to research are so 
miserable?” he asked.

The lecturer said his own area, chemistry, was in a parlous state, but no one 
in government was prepared to listen. 

“We’ve spent a long time trying to find out how much exactly is allocated from 
the state budget for science, specifically chemistry. All the figures are kept 
secret; there are no realistic figures. The only thing that’s clear is that 
science in Uzbekistan is funded out of whatever is left over,” he said. 

The lecturer said that when scientists ask for higher funding levels, the 
response from government is that everything is fine as exports of chemicals and 
petrochemicals are at “record levels”. However, he said, these export items are 
mostly raw materials with little value-added, whereas with the right input from 
scientists, Uzbekistan could be using its chemical resources to manufacture 
high-value products, many of which it currently has to import.

Shavkat Solihov, chairman of the Academy of Sciences, the state body that 
oversees academia and scientific research institutions, defends the 
government’s record on science.

Arguing that Uzbekistan leads the way in many hi-tech areas including bio- and 
nanotechnology, he said there was close cooperation between academia and 
industry. Science students could go on from university to further studies at 
various institutes attached to the Academy of Scientists, where they had access 
to resources like laboratories and a library held on an electronic database, he 

“Uzbekistan is now reaching a qualitatively new level of innovative 
development, and we are therefore seeking further new ways of attracting 
scientists into the academy’s institutes,” said Solihov.

Aspiring scientists like Danil Bagramov, a physics student from Tashkent, 
remain unconvinced of the opportunities open to them in their own country.

Bagramov feels he will have to go to Moscow once he finishes his first degree 
because he cannot get the support he needs from his university.

“I want to leave not because I want to earn a lot of money, but primarily in 
order to gain fulfilment,” he said. “I conduct experiments, but despite 
numerous applications to the university administration for support for my 
scientific initiatives, I am always told there is no money for specific 


Energy-saving bulbs are too expensive for most people, and should never have 
been imposed by decree, say critics of new scheme.

By Lola Olimova and Nafisa Pisaredjeva in Dushanbe

Critics have poured scorn on a government plan to solve Tajikistan’s chronic 
energy shortages by banning conventional light bulbs.

Importing the standard incandescent bulbs became illegal on October 1, with the 
aim of phasing in energy-saving lamps by the end of the year. The changeover is 
part of an energy conservation strategy which has the backing of President 
Imomali Rahmon. 

Despite an extensive government media campaign, there has been little public 
enthusiasm for the initiative.

Many complain that it is simply another in a long line of decrees that 
interfere needlessly with people’s private lives. Previous examples include 
forbidding public servants to get gold teeth and banning students from wearing 
miniskirts or jeans. 

University lecturer Roza Hamidullina said the energy-saving drive was just 
another intrusive initiative, and put her off purchasing the new bulbs.

Recalling two recent decrees introducing a dress code for university teachers 
and making it compulsory to use the Tajik language rather than Russian in state 
institutions, she said, “We are told how to dress, not to have gold teeth, what 
language to speak and now what bulbs to use at home. Just let them try to make 
me do it.” 

Tajikistan, with a population of seven million, suffers from acute energy 
shortages every winter. Its main energy source is hydroelectricity, but 
generation has failed to keep pace with demand, which experts estimate has 
risen by 50 per cent over the last decade. 

A number of major new dam schemes have yet to reach completion, and water 
levels appear to be falling generally. It is in Tajikistan’s interest to fill 
up its reservoirs over the summer and autumn months to increase generating 
capacity in winter, when demand for power is highest, but the country is under 
pressure from neighbours like Uzbekistan to release the water earlier so that 
it reaches them when they need it most to keep their fields irrigated. 

Tajikistan has few sources of fuel, so it has to import oil and natural gas 
from other Central Asian states, which charge prices it is less and less able 
to afford, resulting in periodic outages in the gas supply. That places an 
additional burden on the Tajik electricity grid, as people in urban areas do 
much of their heating and cooking by electricity in the absence of other fuels. 
In the countryside, people are at least able to gather firewood and dried 
manure to burn.

For the last ten years, the Tajik authorities have imposed restrictions on the 
electricity supply from October to May. In some parts of the country, these 
power cuts last for much of the day.

Officials are confidently predicting that the switch to more efficient lighting 
will result in a sevenfold reduction in electricity use. Experts and consumers 
alike remain deeply sceptical that the change will do anything to alleviate the 
chronic shortfall in electricity generation.

A former energy-sector worker who gave his name as Akbarali told IWPR that the 
campaign would be a waste of money.

“A lot of efforts are being expended on producing leaflets, putting up banners 
in the street, and advertising on billboards and on radio and TV,” he said. “So 
much money is being spent, and all for nothing. This is not necessarily going 
to lead to energy-saving.”

Akbarali explained that any benefits from energy-saving would be swamped by the 
surge in domestic consumption that happens whenever the power comes on. 

“When it’s on for several hours, everyone uses all the electrical devices 
they’ve got,” he said.

Opposition politician and political analyst Shokirjon Hakimov argues that the 
campaign to use low-energy bulbs ignores the realities of life in a country 
that is the poorest in Central Asia.

“Most Tajik families have a very low standard of living, and not everyone can 
afford these bulbs,” he said.

The average monthly wage in Tajikistan is worth 80 US dollars, putting 
energy-saving bulbs of better quality out of reach, as they sell at around ten 
dollars each.

Cheaper versions are available from one dollar upwards, but people say they are 
of dubious quality, do not give off much light and only last a short time. The 
normal incandescent bulbs cost between 30 and 60 cents.

Khusrav, a market trader in the capital Dushanbe, refuses to sell the 
energy-saving bulbs. 

“I’ve heard they’re bad for your health, particularly your eyesight,” he said. 
“And ordinary people don’t want to throw their money away.”

Nazira, an 85-year-old grandmother, said that on her pension of 24 dollars a 
month she would not even consider replacing her current light bulbs. 

“We lived 80 years without energy-saving bulbs and we can going on doing so. 
Let those who have the money buy them. I’m already saving on everything I can,” 
she said.

Hakimov criticised the government for trying to engineer change by decree.

“In democratic countries, the authorities make recommendations rather than 
banning things. They organise awareness campaigns and give consumers a choice 
so that they can make decisions depending on their income,” he said. “In 
Central Asian countries, where there’s no democracy and human rights are 
violated, they decree that people should purchase these light bulbs. That goes 
against the principles of a market economy and against the protection of 
consumer rights.”

The government intends to provide 240,000 of the poorest families with energy 
saving bulbs free of charge. However, this will be a one-off action, and 
35-year-old mother of six Zulfia says that when her free bulbs burn out, she 
will go back to the conventional ones. 

“It’s a good thing I’ve bought a few in reserve,” she added.

Lola Olimova is IWPR editor for Tajikistan; Nafisa Pisaredjeva is an 
IWPR-trained journalist in Dushanbe.

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