Thursday, March 12, 2015

A New Breeding Ground for Terrorism in Central Asia – the Abandoned Families of Gastarbeiters in Russia

Paul Goble


            Staunton, March 12 – Because of widespread poverty, brittle authoritarian regimes, and the impact of developments in neighboring Afghanistan, the Central Asian countries have long been a breeding ground for Islamist terrorists. But now there is a new component in this mix: the abandoned families of those who have gone to Russia to work.


            Students of terrorism have pointed to the difficulties children in divided families face as one of the factors that may lead young people to turn to radicalism, and they have noted that women who have been abandoned by their husbands or extended family are strong candidates for recruitment.


            But up to now, few have devoted much attention to that potential impact of these factors in Central Asia where “abandoned wives and destroyed families are the consequences” of the massive outmigration of men to work in Russian cities, although there is increasing attention in these countries to other problems this situation produces.


              A survey of recent research on this category of people in Tajikistan, one that may involve as many as 250,000 women according to Polish researcher Carolina Kliuchevska and of course even more children given the large families there, is provided in a new article published on the portal (


            Eighty percent of the one million Tajik men who have gone to Russia for work, Kliuchevska says, are married. Many send home a large fraction of their earnings. But others send little, and some forget that they are married or even divorce their wives by email, even though that is completely illegal.


            Given that such women have no other source of income and cannot count on the members of their husbands’ families, many of whom view such women as nothing more than a burden, both the abandoned women and their children suffer, all the more so because they do not know their legal rights and officials have little assistance to provide.


            Some of these women have called on Dushanbe to seek the deportation of their husbands from Tajikistan. Others commit suicide. But their situation is increasingly dire – and that means that these women and even more their male children are likely to be attracted by radical Islamists and terrorists, especially since the secular authorities are doing so little for them.




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