Thursday, May 2, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Tajik Embassy in Moscow Sets Up Unit to Help Tajiks Suffering from Russian Intolerance

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 2 – Infuriated by what the Tajik government sees as increasing Russian mistreatment of Tajik gastarbeiters in major Russian cities, the embassy of Tajikistan in Moscow has set up a special staff to provide assistant both to new arrivals at airports and railroad stations and to those who have encountered difficulties with life in the Russian Federation.

            In a post on his embassy’s website, Tajikistan Ambassaador Abdulmadzhad Dostiyev said that his government was taking this step now “when to [their] great regret, not only ‘the yellow press,’ but also certain government TV channels” are presenting a negative image of Tajik gastarbeiters (

            That negative image in turn, the diplomat suggested, appears to be officially inspired and is promoting “hostility and intolerance” among Russian officials and ordinary officials toward the Tajiks. The main task of the new staff will be to help those arriving or leaving at Moscow airports and at the Kazan railroad station.

            The reason for that focus, he continued, is that officials often check Tajikistan citizens far more closely and in a discriminatory way than they do others on the same flights or trains.  Such “unjustifiably crude organization of checking” and the confiscation of foodstuffs from Tajikistan are wrong and contribute to ill feelings on all sides of the issue.

            Dostiyev singled out for particular criticism the words of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the LDPR, who like many other Russian parliamentarians and officials, wants to introduce a visa requirement for workers from Central Asia and who has expressed pleasure at the recent suspension of train travel between Moscow and Dushanbe.

            There are approximately one million gastarbeiters from Tajikistan in the Russian Federation over the course of a year. (Many are seasonal, and the numbers in most months are lower.)  And as Dostiyev noted, the Tajiks now rank fourth among countries of origin for such workers (

            Other Central Asian countries may follow suit, given that their citizens are experiencing similar problems in Moscow. That will create new problems for the Russian government because the governments of these countries will certainly be less willing to cooperate with Moscow on other issues if Moscow will not do more to protect their own people on its territory.

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