Tajikistan: Unjust Distribution of Wealth

It is almost impossible to have a profitable business in Tajikistan if you follow all rules and regulations set by the state. People bitterly joke that the easiest way to become a wealthy man is to become a governmental official or a person close to the government. Perhaps, it is true, as it gives you some kind of “immunity” from the checks, competition and possible prosecution — the higher the post, the more you get. Neweurasia summarizes a survey of Avesta News Agency about the richest people in Tajikistan:

If you are a wealthy person living in Tajikistan, it means that either (1) you’re a governmental official, or (2) you’re a former governmental official, or (3) you’re a businessman who avoids paying taxes, or (4) you’re an entertainment star, or (5) you’re a drug-smuggler. If you’re not a governmental official and you are wealthy, it means you have krisha (“a roof”, or patron from amongst the governmental officials).

The report shows – and it is relatively true – that even to become a popular entertainment star one needs to have unofficial patronage by somebody in the government. In another post neweurasia discusses doing business in Tajikistan:

Your krisha can be a criminal, a high official in the government, especially in a law enforcement agency or a former warlord. It is better to have a krisha from law enforcement agencies or from the government because the criminals and former warlords are not that much influential in Tajikistan [now].

Tojvar opines [taj] on the “weathiest Tajiks list”:

The governmental officials in Tajikistan never disclose their wealth and allege that they make their living only with the official monthly salary — 200 USD — although this is not enough in the capital city. My questions here: Why do they have that much wealth, while I should be a labor migrant in Russia?

To be fair, it is necessary to admit that those who enjoy benefits for the time being, always risk to lose business with every new wake of the property redistribution among the elites; no matter how influential your patron in the governmental structures is, you may lose both your immunity and your property. Last week, one of the most successful Tajik businessmen Maruf Orifov was sentenced by the Supreme Court to 8,5 years of imprisonment with confiscation of property for alleged bribery and tax evasion. He owned the largest retail chain “Orima” in Dushanbe.

John Musarra at Tajiksitan Journal desribes his shopping experience at Orima, while Ravshan thinks [rus] that the Supreme Court’s decision was inadequately harsh and would negatively affect the country’s investment climate. In any case, many in Tajikistan suspect that this trial is nothing else but a raider attack with the purpose to take over some else’s lucrative business. Tajeconomy shares [rus] this opinion and elaborates:

But the main intrigue here is that – who is going to privatize Orima? If the trial was fabricated with a purpose to take over the “Orima” chain, its next owner (or the patron of this person) can be considered as a mastermind of the trial. If the trial is indeed fabricated, who might have such power and resources to manipulate the law enforcement bodies?


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