When the Soviet Union disbanded in 1991,
Tajikistan became its own nation for the first time. The
contradictions within the country were great, partly
between different regions and partly between the old
communist elite on the one hand and nationalists and
Islamists on the other. Civil war raged in 1992–1997,
with great destruction as a result. Power has since
remained with President Emomalii Rahmon and his
During the Soviet era (1920–1991), Tajikistan was
essentially controlled from Moscow. When the Soviet
power began to weaken during the so-called perestroke in
the late 1980s, regional interests came to compete for
power in Tajikistan.
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Tajikistan. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
The regions are the most important platform for
social, economic and political life in the country. It
depends largely on the terrain; Tajikistan consists of
nine tenths of mountains. During the winter months, the
different parts of the country are largely cut off from
one another (see also Political system).
Soon, however, new political parties began to form.
The essence of their program was generally an endeavor
to counterbalance the Soviet system and to promote its
own culture at the expense of the Russian. Another
aspect of political life was the relationship between
the old elite, which depended on the Communist Party,
and Islam. Primarily out in the countryside, the Islamic
Renewal Party became a catalyst for a nationalist
movement among young Tajiks.
Rachmonov becomes president
When the Soviet Union collapsed, the 15 sub-republics
became sovereign states. Tajikistan, which declared its
independence on September 9, 1991, was one of several
republics that had never before formed its own nation.
In Tajikistan, demonstrations were held against the
local leaders of the Communist Party. Among the
opponents were both secular nationalists and Islamist
groups. The demonstrations soon turned into armed action
and in May 1992, a regular civil war broke out.
The war was fought between the Moscow-backed
government army on the one hand and an alliance of
Islamists and nationalists on the other. But it was also
a battle between regions and clans. The government side
had its main support in Kulob (or Kuljab with Russian
transcription) in the south and in what was then
Leninabad (today's province of Sughd with the main city
of Chudzjand) in the north. The rebels were strongest in
other parts of the south and in the isolated eastern
half of the country. The fighting raged most intensely
around Kulob, while the more economically developed
Leninabad was kept out of the fighting.
Gradually, the Communist Party was divided into two
camps. In fact, the Kulob faction took power from the
Chudzhand faction. It was clear when a new government
was formed at the end of 1992 under the leadership of
Emomali Rachmonov (from 2007 spelled Emomalii Rahmon), a
former Kolob chief of colleges. The power shift was
cemented when Rachmonov won the November 1994
presidential election. Rachmonov has maintained his grip
on power ever since and the power shift in Kulob's favor
One million flee from civil war
Around 50,000 people were killed in the civil war. A
quarter of a million people got their homes leveled and
the roads, bridges, factories, hospitals and other
public buildings were destroyed by hundreds. Nearly one
million people became refugees in or outside the
The worst battles raged in 1992 and 1993. The
following year, the UN succeeded in bringing about peace
talks and later that year a first ceasefire was
concluded, which however was repeatedly broken. In June
1997, the civil war formally ended. A national
reconciliation commission was set up with the aim of
incorporating the opposition into the political and
military institutions. Armed Muslim opposition leader
Said Abdullah Nuri and other opposition representatives
could return from exile and take a seat in the new
government in accordance with the peace agreement.
The peace agreement also resulted in the ban on the
Islamist parties being repealed in 1998. The decision
was approved by the Supreme Court the following year. As
a result, Tajikistan became the only Central Asian
country where Islamist parties - let alone moderate -
were allowed to operate and also joined the government.
Under the agreement, refugees and opposition forces
returned from camps in Afghanistan.
However, the peace agreement did not end the
political violence. In November 1998, Tajikistan was
shaken by a coup attempt in the province of Sughd.
Several former government officials were considered to
be involved in the failed coup attempt, and the
president also accused Uzbekistan of being behind it.
Ethnic uz cups dominate the area around Sughd's main
city of Chudzhand.
In the fall of 1999, armed Islamists raided
Afghanistan through Tajikistan into the Kyrgyz and Uzbek
parts of the Fergana Valley. The guerrilla, who belonged
to the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan (known as the
English abbreviation IMU), took the hostage and demanded
that prisoners be released. Hard fighting was fought in
Kyrgyzstan and the Central Asian neighbors agreed on
closer cooperation to fight the rebels (see Foreign
Policy and Defense).
In the 1999 presidential election, Emomali Rachmonov
was re-elected, officially with 97 percent of the vote.
Both the opposition and the OSCE were critical to how
the election was conducted. Prior to the election,
forthcoming terms of office had been extended from five
to seven years.
The terrorist attacks in the United States on
September 11, 2001 and the subsequent US-led war in
Afghanistan (see Foreign Policy and Defense) meant that
Tajik Islamic politicians were put under even tougher
pressure. Disgruntled Islamists increasingly questioned
the Islamic renewal party's cooperation with the
government, a collaboration that was a cornerstone of
the peace agreement. The reconciliation process also ran
into difficulties in 2003, when several leading members
of the Islamic renewal party were arrested and convicted
of various crimes.
Parliamentary elections were held in 2000 and 2005,
and presidential elections in November 2006. In all
cases, Rachmonov or his People's Democratic Party won,
with between 70 and 80 percent of the vote. All
elections were also judged by international observers.
According to the OSCE, the opposition was systematically
counteracted, independent media was harassed and there
was pure cheating. However, no major disturbances
Economic crisis, new violence
In 2007, a series of explosions occurred around the
country, a reminder that the situation was still
unstable ten years after the civil war. A new economic
crisis helped to make the situation again very
uncertain. Severe winters in 2007–2008 and 2008–2009 led
to a food crisis and near enough collapse in electricity
supply. In addition, Uzbekistan reduced its gas
supplies, citing Tajikistan's growing debt.
In the wake of the international financial crisis,
many foreign-working Tajiks lost their jobs and were
forced to return home to growing poverty. When income
from exile workers declined, many were hit hard.
International observers warned that Tajikistan is
beginning to resemble a failed state, with increasingly
poor state apparatus.
As usual, the 2010 parliamentary elections meant a
big victory for the People's Democratic Party.
From 2010, the security situation worsened. A suicide
attack was carried out in Chudzhand in the Fergana
Valley and in 2011–2012 several violent clashes occurred
between government forces and resistance groups, mainly
in the Rasht Valley in central Tajikistan and in the
isolated eastern parts.
Presidential elections without opposition
Half a year before the 2013 presidential election,
former Interior Minister Zaid Sajdov, along with some
entrepreneurs, tried to form a new party, New
Tajikistan. Sajdov had belonged to the opposition during
the civil war but was given a government post as part of
the peace settlement; he was a member of the government
New Tajikistan wanted to represent the business
community, and did not intend to stand in the
presidential election. But the regime seemed to perceive
Sajdov as a serious threat. He was arrested and
sentenced in late 2012 to 26 years in prison for sexual
offenses, fraud and corruption.
Prior to the election, an opposition alliance,
including the Islamic Renewal Party and the Social
Democratic Party, the lawyer and human rights activist
Ojnihol Bobonazarova, appointed his joint presidential
candidate. However, Bobonazarova was out-maneuvered and
forced to leave the electoral movement a month before
Election Day. The Islamic renewal party and the Social
Democrats then boycotted the election.
Thus, all real political opposition failed. Rahmon
did not campaign but relied on all the attention he
received in state media. None of the five
counter-candidates criticized him. Rahmon won by far,
according to the state electoral authority. The OSCE
noted, as in previous elections, that voters had no real
alternative to Rahmon.
Islamic renewal party is banned
The 2015 parliamentary elections were also
unexpectedly a major victory for the People's Democratic
Party. The Islamic renewal party and the Social
Democratic Party were subjected to such severe pressure
from the authorities that they could hardly reach the
electorate at all. The Islamic renewal party lost all
its mandates, and shortly after the election the party
was declared illegal and the terrorist stamped. Most
senior party leaders were sentenced during the year to
lengthy prison sentences following trials that were
described by human rights groups as having a strong
Those convicted were charged with conspiring with an
Islamist group that, during a couple of days in
September 2015, fought fierce fighting with security
forces around Dushanbe. Whether there was any connection
between the Islamic renewal party and these rebels, or
whether the fighting became a sweeping reason to strike
against the party, is not clear.
1999 Modern History
President Rachmonov is re-elected for a second term with just over 96 percent
of the vote.
1998 Modern History
A coup attempt is struck down in the province of Sughd.
Islamist becomes deputy head of government
President Rachmonov pardons all opposition leaders in exile and an Islamist
leader becomes the first deputy prime minister.
1997 Modern History
The Civil War ends
The civil war ends when the government and the opposition sign a peace
agreement. A Reconciliation Commission is formed to monitor compliance with the