Tajikistan – feedback from those who have moved there.
I was there on a military trip in 1995-96, and I loved the weather and the people. Dushanbe, Rushan and Khorog. The mountains in Gorno-Badakhshan are something else. In February it was +20 when we came here, it was -30 degrees Celsius.
I wanted to do an internship in Tajikistan, the city of Penjikent, SP Zarafshon, and the letter says that the university accepts students, but when I came to the SP Zarafshon they did not even allow me to enter it.
Transport workers, border guards, customs officers, a veterinarian, the quarantine service, and the BDA torture truckers and take as many as they want. Especially truckers are stopped on highways at night for no reason.
It’s a wonderful country, and nice nice people…
I want to go with my son to Shahrinav, we have no travel experience, advise how to proceed?
In Tajikistan now there is family rule. Relatives of President Emomali are sitting everywhere. His son was promoted to general of the army at age 25.
My PEARL from Childhood…my dear Isfara!…I am Russian, but I have always been grateful to the kind, beautiful, hardworking and hospitable Tajik people! …. Though I have been living in Russia for many years, Tajikistan is LOVE IN MY HERE! ….Ouruk gardens and majestic mountains, tea-houses in the green trees and a watering car at 6 am… roses, roses, roses in dewdrops and kind people-Tajiks….. …. HAPPY YOU, you wonderful Tajik people……..
We lived peacefully, there was enough work, electricity, heat and water, but someone decided that it is impossible to live like this and decided to ruin everything. I remember very well how trucks with people came from all over the country, how tents were deployed for weeks in front of the Central Committee, and how all the neighbors smelled of urine. I do not remember one thing: what were these people fighting for? I remember how all of a sudden the Russians were no longer needed in this country, how the sales clerks in the Central Department Store and the bazaars did not answer. We went on an excursion to the Nurek hydroelectric power plant when we were in elementary school, and they showed us how the light was generated. During the riots it turned out that there was a massacre there, so why did the republic, the regime, and those who shouted “Go back to your Russia! “So they left, but everything’s calmed down now, what’s left of the republic?
The electricity is outage and the water is no good. I remember that the water was fine! People of different nationalities worked at the “Tadjikvodokanal”! No, but we left, and no matter where we live now, we do good for the country we live in, but it turned out that Tajikistan does not need our help. Only in Russia, there are more and more unemployed people. Such a paradox in life.
I live in Khujand (Leninabad) in summer, it’s nice to live here! The sea, the mountains and Shahristan are not far away, you can go somewhere for a weekend! The nature is great there! But life is more difficult in winter, they give gas and electricity by the hour and have to do it in time. Many people put stoves in their homes, even those who live in apartments, and almost everyone has sandals. It is not that cold yet, but everyone is getting ready for winter!
People are peaceful and hospitable in spite of the difficulties! * * * * * * * * * * * * * * We have romantic candlelit dinners every winter! : -D
I wouldn’t give birth there… It would be better to give birth in Russia.
I was born and grew up in Dushanbe until 25 years old, I still consider Tajikistan my home, I am very grateful to Tajiks for everything that they gave us-the attitude toward the elderly, bread, etc. The Tajiks are hard-working people and I think that things will get better over time. I wish them only the best.
Thank you, Parvina! I am from Leninabad (Chkalovsk). I studied at the Pedagogical Institute in Leninabad and I know this city very well. I saw the new photographs, it seems to me that it has become even more beautiful. (Y) I remember our mountains, the bazaar and the museum near which our famous mulberry tree still grows. *I remember our beautiful Syr-Darya River and the park at Chum-Chuk-Aral.
Cotton fields and a starry sky. You can see such a * starry sky when it seems that you can reach a star with your hand only in Tajikistan (lo) (K) (F)
Darina, hello. I can’t answer all your questions, because I do not live in Dushanbe now, but I was born there and lived there till I was 25, with a break in studies. The hottest months are the end of May, June, July. Apart from the heat, these months can have periods of dust storms (Afghans-dusty winds bring a lot of fine dust from Afghanistan, the dust stays in the air for several days and usually ends up in rain). Dushanbe is located in a mountain valley at an altitude of 800 m above sea level. The heat there is different (differently tolerated) due to the dry climate, i.e. 28 degrees is cool. In August, the nights are already cool and the days are not so hot. We left Tajikistan in ’90. I do not know anything about the state of medicine. Good luck to you.
Our country (we are close by) has the hottest weather from the end of July to the end of August. There is even a special name for this time, chillia. And those who are not used to it are hot even now. Our weather forecasts say +30 this week. My mother-in-law from Ukraine was already exhausted at the beginning of May and went home.
I am a Jilikulian. The last time I was in Tajikistan with my wife (she is a Muscovite) was in December 2006-March 2007. In Dushanbe almost everything is fine and wonderful: new modern buildings, T.C., foreign cars, etc. are being built. But the light is on schedule in the houses, the water in the taps is muddy and with some lumps/tina/ or what can it be? There is no heating. Do ordinary people in Dushanbe need these new houses (they will not get apartments in them, they will not be able to buy them and will hardly be able to buy them) and modern European shopping malls (prices there are almost the same as in Moscow, but the income level is many times lower, simple citizens do not go shopping there anyway). For whom is all this being done/constructed? Personally, I do not understand, if anyone knows something, please tell me. The city/country must be convenient to its residents, first of all, and then to foreigners.
Karoch, I was born in Dushka, although I myself am Russian. I live in Russia now. All Tajikistan needs to achieve quality tourism, to make it comfortable. Then people will come. There are good and bad in every nation. As a Russian of Tajik origin, I say that there are bad uneducated Russians (trash) and stupid Tajiks. But most people are normal there and there. The more one travels, the more one understands that people are all the same. And you should not believe the media.
I also traveled in Tajikistan a year ago, although I wasn’t on vacation but on a business trip. We drove all over the country from north to south, from Khujand to Khorog… It was an amazing country. When I came to Russia, many people could not understand me when I told them about the natural beauty of the land and the wonderful people living there. I have never seen such hospitality and welcoming attitude to guests anywhere else. Indeed, in any house, especially in mountain villages, you will be offered a meal and a bed for the night. As for the smell – the smell is just like a smell, nothing “stunning. In any village house, whether in Russia or any other country, it smells different than in the city apartments, but it is not worse, it just smells different.
Dushanbe struck by its contrasts. On the one hand, there are beautiful parks, alleys with fountains, cultural monuments, luxurious hotels, but on the other hand, there is trash in the streets (almost no urns) and beggarly policemen near the Somani monument.
The Tajiks themselves were also pleasantly surprised. As it turned out, most of them are not at all what they are usually portrayed in the Russian media and anecdotes, but smart, reasonably educated and very hardworking. For the two weeks we spent in Khorugh, we have never once encountered a Pamiri who did not understand us on any technical matters. Almost everyone speaks Russian, and many have a decent command of English.
But the most unforgettable impression is, of course, the mountains! Just to see the stars not only overhead but also on the side of your head, and even below, is already worth a visit to this wonderful place. I would love to go there again…already flying out on Monday.
I’m stationed at 201BB in Dushanbe, and let me put it this way: “The locals see you as a money-bag to cheat, steal from, put in a car and take away to some quarry. The local police themselves can STAKE you, as one of ours did yesterday. There are plenty of bearded men around here. They may be struggling downtown, but in the Giprozem, Carvon area, there are plenty of them. If you go out to a cafe in the evening, alone, you get angry, mocking looks, expect provocation.
Why are you frightening Isfandier? Where are stray dogs in Dushanbe? I go out of the office at 9 p.m. I haven’t seen any dogs.
Don’t worry about registration, Alexander. People do not care about elections apart from a handful of party politicians, so do not worry. But in Dushanbe, you can only rent a room, not an apartment, for $50. But you can rent a flat in the suburbs.
I can confirm that it is safe.
I was born and grew up there, but I left with my family in ’90 because there was a mess there, as in other Central Asian republics.
Almost all Russians and Germans left, and there were many of them.
Then they were evidently fighting among themselves and settled down – it turned out it was better without a war.
The last time was in 2011, it seems.
You can even walk around the city at night. There are no guards at currency exchange offices in the city, and there are even no armored windows.
Just a guy sits there with a bunch of different money and change it. I was very surprised. In Moscow you can’t open the exchangers with explosives.
The people are friendly, good-natured. Of course they like to cheat tourists, but they don’t do it anywhere. At least not like in Egypt, where they impose and harass. There are a lot of stores, cafes, and inexpensive. There used to be the usual Chaikhana, where you could eat for a penny, but now it’s full-fledged restaurants with waiters.
In other district towns it’s not as nice and clean as in the capital. People are poorer. However, the same is true in Russia, where most of the money is in the capital.
Of course you can find “to see” in the city. But the main value is the mountains.
The most beautiful Varzov Gorge. One must go with a backpack and a tent for 1-3 days along the mountain river. This is in summer – June-September.
There is a special energy, air, delicious clean mountain water.
You can hire a guide to show you all the beautiful places, it is not expensive. Far from the capital the people are not divorced, not spoilt, more hospitable. You can even without problems to ask to sleep overnight, for this would not even take money. (Well, at least it was before, you give money – took offense). It is possible to present some European souvenirs for children.
You can go fishing in a mountain river, but not with a fishing rod, but with a small net with a leash, you throw it in and go with the current.
Naturally, there is no tourist service in Tajikistan. They have been trying to develop it for years, but so far everything is in its infancy. So, if you’re going to go, you’ll have to hustle yourself. Fortunately there are still many people who know Russian. But further from the city, the younger generation no longer speaks Russian.
Finding Russians in Tajikistan: a mission impossible
The face of Tajikistan’s wise leader and beloved leader Emomali Rakhmon looks at its citizens from the walls of homes and power plants, from roadside stands and posters in schools and offices. Photo: Sergey PONOMAREV
Millions of Tajiks live in Russia. In almost any Russian city you can find them everywhere – in transport, on the streets, in cafes and on squares – with their entire families. I have been to the capital of Tajikistan. And there are almost no Russians there. And once it was just the opposite…
At the end of October, it’s still summer in Dushanbe. At least by Moscow standards, it is warm, and all the squares, squares, and parks are green and full of roses. I have probably never seen so many roses anywhere else.
The color of greenery and a construction fence made of profiled sheeting. Both on the central avenue and on the outskirts, something is being built everywhere. And Tajik janitors, familiar to my Russian eye, are literally on every corner. The city is very clean. And it is very peaceful. There are not many people on the streets. After 10 p.m. there is nothing at all. Nobody drives on the roads, nobody walks on the streets. Only colored lanterns like those that decorate the streets of Moscow are lit. True, much more modest.
– The decent girls have long been asleep at home by this hour,” says Ato, my escort to the city, a lieutenant colonel in the local police force.
– Am I indecent?
– You’re Russian, you can see it from a mile away. So you’re allowed.
Once upon a time, the streets of Dushanbe and other cities in the republic were lined with a lot of our compatriots. According to the 1989 census, there were 390,000 of them (7.6% of the population). By 2010, 34,800 (0.5%) remained. Today, it is probably even less. These 0.5% were dissolved into the motley crowd in national costumes, so you can’t even notice it.
The bulk left in the 1990s, when a civil war broke out in Tajikistan. Back then there was a terrible massacre, thugs with truncheons broke into houses and drove people out. With the change of power, the country plunged into darkness in every sense of the word. Electricity in Dushanbe only recently stopped being supplied by the hour, a combined heat and power plant was launched, and heating was supplied to the apartments. Before this, the young people, born and raised after the 1990s, had no idea why they needed batteries at all. This is in a country with a huge cascade of hydroelectric power plants! There aren’t even any in the kishlaks. Electricity is intermittent, there is no running water.
– My salary is about $200,” Ato said. – I can’t say it is much, but it suffices for my family – we have five children. Now I’ll finish my pension, get an apartment and quit my job and go to work in Russia. We have a lot of relatives there. And I’ll go, too.
– But what about your family and kids?
– The kids are big now, they’ll look after their mother here. And I’ll start a new family there. The old one’s been eating my brains out with a hoe for 25 years.
I specifically asked about the lieutenant colonel’s salary. To compare. The Tajik concierge at my house in Khimki makes $300. She spends 100 on her own and sends 200 home. It turns out that her family lives the same as a qualified and high-ranking police officer.
Tajiks are actively learning Russian and… Chinese
Russia is Tajikistan’s most important strategic partner today. All hope lies with us, Russia is the main support of the mountainous republic. Most of the agreements that Dushanbe has signed at the official level are with Moscow. And Russian is the language of inter-ethnic communication, so it is stated by law. The economy is also largely dependent on Russian money, which is sent home by migrant workers. And there are, according to various estimates, at least 1.5 million of them in our country (there’s a similar number in neighboring Uzbekistan). People build houses. It is not uncommon for a family (Tajiks often live together – parents, adult children and their children) to have several cars.
They go to earn money, of course, not from good life, but from wild unemployment. And mostly men, which has a very painful effect on the situation in the country as a whole. There is a rigid patriarchy, women are in the second role. And now, like during the war, all the hard work in the villages rests on women’s shoulders. But everyone wants to go “to Moscow” (all Tajiks, even those who go to Russia for work, even to Saratov or Yekaterinburg, say that to Moscow). That is why the Russian language, somewhat forgotten at the beginning of independence, has now revived with renewed vigor.
– I know Russian, and I only speak it with the kids at home,” says the lieutenant colonel. What can you do without it? If you go to Uzbekistan, you understand Russian, to Armenia, too. To Georgia, to Ukraine. Anywhere. I am very worried that I could not get my children into a Russian school, it is very hard to get into a Russian school, you have to pay a lot of money to get in. And also Chinese is a popular language now, I made my son learn it. A lot of people here are learning it now.
Yes, yes, the ubiquitous Chinese have already made their way here. They’re buying up plantations, gold and uranium deposits. They bring in their own technology and make money by exploiting the cheap Tajik labor force. Russian business won’t come here, however much they may be calling.
KP correspondent Dina Karpitskaya in evening Dushanbe. In the background is a monument to national hero Ismoil Somoni. Photo: Dina Karpitskaya
“We are being carried in the arms here.
I met my first Russian lady at the Russian-Tajik University (where I didn’t meet a single Russian student, but many well-educated young Tajiks with excellent English). To my surprise, Leyla Gadzhieva turns out to be a guest worker herself – she moved here two years ago from her native Dagestan. Not on her own, of course. In 2016, a humanitarian project to promote the Russian language and culture in Tajikistan was born in the bowels of our government.
– I am a chemistry teacher. – she tells me. – At the school where I worked in my home country, they announced that there was an opportunity to go and work in Tajikistan. The conditions offered were very good – the president’s schools and a place to live. I came home and told my mother (she is also a teacher-philologist): let’s try it. And we went to apply. The competition for applicants was very large, and in the end only five teachers were selected.
Leila and her mother were welcomed with open arms. They provided free of charge accommodation. A kindergarten was provided for her son. They pay double salaries, both in Russia and Tajikistan.
– We, specialists from Russia, are very respected here”, Leyla says. – You feel their commitment and gratitude. It’s hard to get into schools that teach in Russian (there are 18 in the city). Everyone dreams of sending their children here. My mother, who was assigned to another town, is being carried in her arms. She wants to move to Dushanbe with me, but they won’t let such a valuable specialist go. It’s the same everywhere here. If a Russian doctor works in a hospital, everyone tries to get to him. It’s the same with a lawyer, or any other specialist.
– Have you heard about what was here in the 90’s?
– Yes, it was a little bit alarming. But how many years have passed? Here in Dushanbe I don’t feel any discrimination at all. On the contrary. Respect and gratitude.
– Are there many of our teachers at school?
– No. Me and two other women, they were born here and have lived here all their lives. But there are very few Russians in Dushanbe.
Poor Russian pensioners
No matter how much you walk around Dushanbe, you can hardly meet any Russians. When I came back home, I tried to get in touch with Tajik Russians on the internet and talk to them about life, but they all refused. They are afraid of the possibility that they might print something bad about Tajikistan, and then you have to answer them. On the other hand, they told me about the place with the largest concentration of Russians – the old people’s home. I’m ashamed to write this, but most of the remaining 35 thousand Russians here are old people who have nowhere and no one to go.
– You don’t talk and write much about it in Russia, but we have a lot of lonely, abandoned grandparents here,” the Tajik blogger Rakhmon tells me. – Our pensions here are tiny – $20, $30. How can you make a living on it? It’s our tradition to help our parents and not leave them behind. Although nowadays it’s not uncommon for old people to be sent to a home for the elderly. And with you, I understand, this is the norm? We have Russian communities in every district, where they distribute humanitarian aid to the elderly. But all our neighbors – Tajiks and Uzbeks – also help and feed them. You can go to the orphanage in Tursunzade (a town 70 kilometers from Dushanbe) and see for yourself.
I didn’t have time to go to this nursing home in person. But I will definitely go someday. On the Internet I found several stories and records about the institution. Just think, of its 230 residents, almost 90 are Russians. It’s frightening that our grandparents don’t need their families or their children at all! – Our grandparents don’t need their families or their children.
– I have three children, all in Russia. They were born in Tajikistan, grew up, and then left,” the elderly grandfather Boris Strunkin squints through his near-sighted eyes. – I used to keep in touch with them through my friend who worked at the airport. And then he too left for Russia. Now I haven’t heard from them for years. If they needed me, they would have found me long ago. They would have come to Dushanbe to our old address, everyone there knows where I am.
All alone and senile Galina Shakirova (or maybe she’s dead already?) is a pianist and former teacher at the Institute of Arts. The woman was crushed by a stroke and cannot speak. Tajik doctors teach her to write again so that she can somehow explain herself.
A 94-year-old former pediatrician also lies in bed day and day. Nobody remembers her, though she has children too.
One of the hydropower plants of the Vakhsh Cascade Sangtuda-1 was built by our specialists and is 70 percent owned by Russian shareholders. Photo: Sergey PONOMAREV
– As far as we know, everyone has a family. But visitors and letters come here very rarely,” the doctor says. – Almost never from Russia.
Care for our elderly people here in Tajik nursing homes is very good, judging by the staff. In the department with bed-ridden invalids, there are as many as 25 nurse-nurses for 50 people. All the elderly are clean, the rooms are repaired and in order. They bury them according to all religious canons, as a result there are many orthodox crosses in a nearby cemetery. But no one comes to the funeral. And in general, Russians who used to live here under the Soviet Union are not very fond of Tajikistan. In their minds, it’s still the same as it was 30 years ago.
I look at Tajiks in Moscow and think: “Didn’t you beat my father with a crowbar back then?
When I started making inquiries in Moscow, I was surprised to find out that many of my acquaintances were born and lived in Tajikistan during Soviet times.
– It was a paradise. I still remember Dushanbe as the best city in the world, the city of my childhood”, said Yekaterina Parnova, a tour operator. – My parents were sent there on Komsomol vouchers from my home town, Vologda Region. My father worked all his life in a factory, my mother worked as a teacher. We lived well (there was never a shortage or a queue), we were on friendly terms with the Tajiks. The Tajik people were, in principle, kind and simple-minded. They have always been grateful to Russia for helping them rebuild their country.
– What went wrong then, since everyone had to flee?
– Now, with experience, I already understand that everything was planned. At that time there was a shock, not only for us, but for all Tajiks. Because everything really changed literally in one day. I took a bus to the university in one city in the morning and returned home in another. The buses brought crowds of stoned, frenzied youths from the kishlaks and gave them guns and crowbars. They went around, smashed everything and slaughtered everyone. Robbed and killed. My father was beaten so badly that day that he barely made it home. All blue. By the way, a Tajik saved him.
– Was it only Russians?
– No, they beat everyone indiscriminately, literally. Both Tajiks and Uzbeks and Ukrainians. Everyone. I remember the day we were sitting at home; the windows were covered with blankets, the doors were closed with every lock and every chain, and the closet was also pulled up. It was scary. The news was on TV, and Gorbachev said, “Positive changes are taking place in Tajikistan; democratic forces are winning. I will remember these words about democracy for the rest of my life.
Katya’s family, like many at the time, had to flee. No one was expecting them back in Russia.
– Our homeland received us coldly, to put it mildly. No housing, nothing, everything from scratch. It was very hard. We settled in the village, my father got a job at a collective farm. Local men did not like him, because he prevented them from drinking vodka with his hard work. They broke into our house with a crowbar, just like in Dushanbe, saying: “Get out of here. Thank God, everything settled down with time.
– Will you go to Dushanbe? There are teachers being invited there now. You could just go on a tour…
– I don’t know. A lot of our people went there to see it, to feel nostalgic, and they say life is getting better, the country has held on through all the turmoil. This is good. I have a lot of Tajik acquaintances left, I would like to see them, of course. But sometimes I think about it, I still hold a grudge. They kicked us out, then they came here themselves and brought drugs. There are a lot of Tajiks in Moscow, and everyone feels sorry for them, the poor people. Of course it’s hard for them, but they made it on their own. Sometimes I look at them and think: “Weren’t you the one who used a crowbar on my father? Weren’t you the one who used to break into our houses and yell: “Get out of here!” That’s the kind of mixed feelings I have. But I understand that it’s silly to measure the entire country by a handful of personalities.
The great and powerful empire of the USSR no longer exists. The shattered pieces of fates and entire nations are still being glued together as best they can. Sometimes (in Russia and Ukraine, for example) there is a crack, a wound that nobody knows when it will heal. And everywhere, in all the countries of the former Soviet bloc in which I have been, the 70 years of friendship between peoples are recalled as a lost paradise. Nowhere has a new one been built.
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