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Photo file Special features How life has changed Countdown to collapse Introduction Russian Version
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Independence date: 9 September 1991

Population: 6.4 million

Capital: Dushanbe

President: Emomali Rahmonov (since 6 November 1994)

 Country profile


Today we can buy everything in the shops and markets. But people have tiny salaries. The minimum wage is just over a dollar a month, which doesn’t even buy a kilogram of meat. We’ve also got massive unemployment. We didn’t have this sort of problem in Soviet times. Crowds of men stand around at each market, ready to do any work. Building material is very expensive now. Some people build nevertheless, others just live in ruins.

Tolib, 59, unemployed

Among the negative consequences of the break-up of the USSR I would name the local conflicts, including the one in Tajikistan. I lost my father and many friends. But I don’t regret taking this route, or demonstrating against the coup-plotters or their followers in Tajikistan. During the civil war I hid in the mountains, then emigrated. I did many different jobs - I travelled half the world, working as a customs official, a lorry driver, and a translator. Upon returning to Tajikistan, I was struck by the decline in educational standards. But on the other hand we now have the chance to teach ourselves and our children, not just in our own country, but also abroad. Before I would never have believed that my children would study in the West.

Zafir, 37, biologist

For 75 years, we were guinea pigs in the Soviet system. The experiment didn’t work. Nobody in Moscow thought that in 10 or 12 years, the former republics would really be able to stand on their own two feet. Most importantly, we now have the right to vote and to live where we want. All roads have been opened for us now.

Zarpari Khushvakhtova, actress, Dushanbe

Introduction 4. Lithuania 8. Georgia 12. Uzbekistan
1. Russia 5. Belarus 9. Armenia 13. Tajikistan
2. Estonia 6. Ukraine 10. Azerbaijan 14. Kyrgyzstan
3. Latvia 7. Moldova 11. Turkmenistan 15. Kazakhstan

Soviet army in Tajikistan
Civil war erupted in Tajikistan after it declared independence

Tajikistan was plunged into a civil war almost as soon as it declared independence. The Communist leader Qahhor Makhkamov did not want to see the collapse of the Soviet Union, and supported the anti-Gorbachev coup in August 1991.

Shortly afterwards he was deposed, and former Communist leader Rahmon Nabiyev won the country’s first direct presidential election. But he was not prepared to give in to the demands of Islamic and pro-democracy groups.

The government fought a bitter war with Moscow’s backing, in which more than 20,000 people were killed, and 600,000 displaced. A peace agreement was signed in 1997, but the country’s economy was in tatters.

Tajikistan remains the least stable country in Central Asia, and has the lowest GDP among the 15 former Soviet republics.

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