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Tajikistan: The power of gossip

Recently, the Uzbek website UzMetronom disseminated information about possible murder of Hasan Sadulloev, the bother-in-law of Tajik President Rahmon. Hasan is considered to be one of the wealthiest and powerful persons in today's Tajikistan. According to the website, Hasan was shot by his nephew on May 2 and died in a German hospital on May 8. This information was picked up by many other respected information agencies and subsequently by bloggers. For the last two weeks it was one of the main topics of discussions in the Tajik society. However, it still remains on the level of gossips and no one has credible information to either prove or disapprove this.

Everybody is interested in getting information about this story. Tojvar says that Hasan is the most popular person in Tajiksitan [tj]:

Thousands of people everyday are looking for news about him and discuss his possible murder. Several media outlets are having ready articles with different opinions and various further scenarios, all counting the days when the rumors come true or false.

Ian at Beyond the River links the story of Hasan to his business, with the most lucrative part of it being Talco, the aluminum smelter factory:

RFE/RL quotes some loyal employees who claim that they saw him “just a half-hour ago” and that “thank god, he is in good health.” However, there’s no public sign of him and he didn’t accompany Rahmon to Kazakhstan, nor did Rahmon attend the Victory Day parade this year for the first time ever.

In another post Ian continues watching this story by translating excerpts of a post from from Tajik-language Andesha, and tries to show what kind of conversations might take place around kitchen tables all over Tajikistan:

I don’t believe these stories, but I have a few questions. Why didn’t Rahmon attend the May 9 celebration for the first time in history of our independent country. Why didn’t Hassan Sadullayev travel to Kazakhstan with Rahmon? Why is the state not trying to disprove the rumors by showing the healthy body of Sadullayev to the people?”

Srasov, a journalist from Kazakhstan reports [ru] in his blog that the news about possible murder of Hasan might be “fake” to discredit the visit of Rahmon to Kazakhstan.

As I was assured in the Embassy of Tajikistan [to Kazakhstan] it was a false information, disseminated on the Internet by the “enemies of the president” aiming to undermine his reputation. It has no relation to reality, they said.

neweurasia also says that most probably it was a “fake” aimed to destabilize political situation in the country. The author does not have clear evidences, but relies upon the discussions he had with his friends and colleagues.

I hope that Hasan is alive, because the death of such person does not remain without consequences. I think that this information was disseminated against the information about Talco and the legal fees for the proceedings in order to destabilize the political situation in the country. Since Hasan is one of the main actors in this process, the story about his death would be an excellent accelerator in political destabilization.

If the gossip comes out to be false, it would be the “top lie of the year”, cited by all media outlets in Tajikistan.

Also posted on neweurasia

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