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07.08.201413:24
Источник изображения: ИА "Авеста"

Выпуск-58

id: 114536

date: 7/6/2007 9:29

refid: 07DUSHANBE1031

origin: Embassy Dushanbe

classification: UNCLASSIFIED

destination:

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 DUSHANBE 001031

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN, DOC FOR ITA/MAC/EHOUSE

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ECON, ETRD, PGOV, PREL, TI

SUBJECT: AFGHAN VIEWS FROM NORTH OF THE BORDER: PROSPECTS FOR

TAJIK-AFGHAN TRADE

DUSHANBE 00001031  001.2 OF 003

1.  Summary.  Not far from the nearly-completed U.S.-funded

Nizhniy Pyanj bridge at the Tajik-Afghan border, Afghan traders

ferry goods from Pakistan, China, and Iran into southern

Tajikistan.  The opening of the Nizhniy Pyanj bridge will open

the door for more trade while decreasing the opportunity for

corruption at the border.  However, Afghan officials worry that

Tajik restrictions on Afghan businesspeople will limit potential

economic development.  The United States can help facilitate

Tajik-Afghan dialogue to resolve some of these issues.  End

Summary.

At the Ferry Crossing

-------------------------------

2.  Businessmen wait in the shade at the lazy ferry crossing on

a hot and dusty afternoon.  Tajiks run the ferry, and charge

$110 per truck to cross the river from Afghanistan, while trucks

leaving Tajikistan pay only $60.  The ferry runs three times a

day, carrying six trucks each way hauling food, construction

materials, and medical supplies.  During the summer, as prices

of goods within Tajikistan rise, trucks often return to

Afghanistan empty.

3.  One Tajik businessman, "Muhabbat," showed EconOffs ten

trucks packed high with Pakistani cement.  He had been waiting

two days for a Tajik standards official to take a sample of the

cement 200 km to Dushanbe, certify its quality, and return with

a certificate so he could haul the load into Tajikistan.  (Note:

 TojikStandart is the government agency charged with regulating

standards for all products and services in Tajikistan. End

Note.)  A major housing and office construction boom and several

major infrastructure projects have driven up the demand for

cement and the monopoly state-owned construction company

Tajikcement is failing miserably to keep up.  This summer,

cement prices have tripled, and local customers have flocked to

the lower quality Pakistani cement to fill their needs.

4.  Muhabbat, despite close family connections to President

Rahmon, has to negotiate with the border guards, customs, the

sanitary service, and state standards agency on each

transaction.  Once, Muhabbat dumped ten tons of eggs into the

river after waiting for a week for the standards agency to

certify his goods.  Customs officials charged another importer

$18,000 to import twenty tons of meat into Tajikistan, a 100%

customs duty.  Without storage facilities on either side of the

border, transporting perishable goods is risky.

5.  Still, some trade is fruitful.  Tajik businesspeople pay $3

per 14 kilogram crate of mandarins in Afghanistan, and sell

these crates for $20 on the Tajik market.  According to the

Tajik Customs Committee, over $6 million in goods crossed the

ferry at Nizhniy Pyanj in 2006 - $3.5 million imports to

Tajikistan, and $2.5 million in exports.  Unofficial trade is

likely even higher.

Help for the Border Towns

--------------------------------------

6.  The Tajik border region of Kumsangir has much to gain from

improved infrastructure and relaxed trade restrictions.  Most

trucks skip over the region's 4,500 citizens on their way to

Dushanbe.  Besides lemons and produce that local entrepreneurs

take up to Dushanbe, one sees little evidence of economic

activity.  Kumsangir gets electricity five months of the year;

and the government closes the water channel from the Vakhsh

river, leaving residents without water from November to April as

DUSHANBE 00001031  002.2 OF 003

well.  The government provided little assistance after an

earthquake last year rattled the mud-built walls of the city's

buildings.  (Note: The U.S. Government provided emergency

supplies and $50,000 in housing assistance.  End note.)

7.  Further north in the small city of Kolkhozobad, home to

140,000 people, between Dushanbe and the Nizhniy Pyanj bridge,

business owners explained that they lack capital to start and

expand their businesses.  Tajik and Afghan businessmen described

concern over a 2002 Tajik governmental decree which regulates

the types of goods allowed for export/import with Afghanistan,

limiting expansion of trade with Afghanistan.  Businesspeople in

both districts told EconOffs that they receive many products

from Afghanistan, and they believe the Nizhniy Pyanj bridge will

provide new opportunities for trade.

Governor of Kunduz

-----------------------------

8.  In Kolkhozobad, EmbOffs happened upon Muhammad Omar

Sulaimoni, governor of Kunduz province of Afghanistan, and Abdul

Jafar Sadeed, head of the international department, at the

Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs branch in Kunduz.  The

governor was having lunch at the house of Dilbar Nurmatova, the

head of the non-governmental organization Sapeda, which is

implementing a State Department Business Facilitation Incentive

Fund project on cross-border trade.  Declining the vodka toasts

traditional in Tajikistan but not common in Afghanistan,

Sulaimoni explained the troubles Afghans are having with their

northern neighbor.

9.  Sulaimoni complained about the unfair treatment Afghan

traders receive in Tajikistan.  Tajiks see in every Afghan a

potential terrorist and drug dealer, he explained.  The Afghan

governor pointed out that Afghanistan accepted Tajik civil war

refugees in the 1990s, allowing them to live in Kunduz, set up

businesses, buy land and property, and get married.  According

to Sulaimoni, Tajiks distrust Afghans who come to Tajikistan

only to do business, treating them rudely at the border, and

delaying the visa process.  Tajikistan and Afghanistan do not

have a transit agreement, and Tajikistan does not allow Afghan

vehicles to cross the Tajik border.  Businesspeople therefore

use Tajik trucks for all cross-border trade.

10.  Sulaimoni explained that last year Tajikistan offered to

open a consular office in Kunduz so Afghans would not have to

travel to Kabul to receive visas.  He claims that the Afghan

side set up the office, provided security guarantees to the

Tajiks, and settled all administrative issues, while the Tajiks

have done nothing to move forward.  According to Sulaimoni, the

Tajik consular office in Kabul is waiting for their superiors in

Dushanbe to act, and the Afghans have not had luck pushing the

Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.

11.  In Dushanbe, Dr. Atta Ghaznawi, the Afghan trade

representative to Tajikistan (and U.S. green card holder),

supported Sulaimoni's points, noting that the Ministry of

Foreign Affairs has ignored his letters for months.  Recently,

when the Afghan government requested visas for 15 Afghan

businesspeople to attend a trade show in Eastern Tajikistan, the

Tajik government flatly refused visas for the entire group.

After the Tajik Consul insulted these businesspeople and kicked

them out of the Tajik Embassy in Kabul, the group sent a letter

of complaint to the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce urging

Afghan businesspeople to boycott trade with Tajikistan.

DUSHANBE 00001031  003.2 OF 003

Bringing Tajiks and Afghans Together

--------------------------------------------- ---------

12.  Non-governmental organizations help bridge the gap between

these two countries with historical and cultural ties by

supporting businesspeople who typically lack knowledge of their

rights and have no recourse against corrupt officials.  With

U.S. support, non-governmental organization Sapeda will publish

a brochure explaining key laws and regulations on Tajik-Afghan

trade issues.  Sapeda conducted training in Afghanistan in

cooperation with the International Labor Organization on how to

start up a small business.  Sapeda would like to translate its

Tajik language training brochures into Dari/Farsi, even though

they estimate that over 95% of individuals in Kunduz cannot read

or write.  Sapeda requested U.S. support for establishing an

information resource center at the border to assist traders at

the new bridge site.  In September 2007, Sapeda will organize a

cross-border trade exhibition in Kunduz province.

13.  The U.S. government can also play a useful role as direct

facilitator between Tajikistan and Afghanistan to improve

dialogue on economic relations.  Ghaznawi requested U.S. support

for the Tajik-Afghan Chamber of Commerce, to showcase the

potential for trade between the two countries.  He also noted

the difficulty he is having with the Tajik Ministry of Foreign

Affairs, and suggested that we could help engage the Tajik

government on what he sees as simple good business.

14.  Securing the Tajik-Afghan border by training and equipping

customs and border officials will help alleviate Tajik concerns.

 Ghaznawi feels that beyond security concerns, Tajiks choose to

limit trade in order to line their own pockets.  Ghaznawi

recognizes the need for a strong border and the ability to keep

narcotics out of Tajikistan, but does not see why this should

interfere with trade that benefits both sides.  The Tajiks need

to engage in constructive dialogue and move beyond general

statements of historical friendship if they are going to take

advantage of the $36 million Nizhniy Pyanj bridge.

15.  Comment:  Tajikistan and Afghanistan should be natural

trading partners, but it may take some confidence building steps

to erase the Tajiks' bias against the Afghans.  Post is aware

from its own discussions with Tajik officials of the distrust of

Afghans -- including Foreign Minister Zarifi's June 20 assertion

to the Ambassador that "Afghans want to be in Tajikistan only

for drug trading."   Post will act on Ghaznawi's request to

facilitate a more direct conversation between Afghan and Tajik

trade representatives, and the Tajik Ministry of Foreign

Affairs, perhaps starting with the incoming head of the Consular

Department of the Foreign Ministry.  The opening of the bridge

will provide an excellent opportunity for post, and high-level

visitors to reinforce this message.  End Comment.

JACOBSON

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

id: 114730

date: 7/9/2007 9:40

refid: 07DUSHANBE1046

origin: Embassy Dushanbe

classification: UNCLASSIFIED

destination:

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DUSHANBE 001046

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EEB/CBA

STATE FOR SCA/CEN

STATE FOR EEB/EX

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: AFIN, BEXP, BTIO, ECON, TI, EINV, ETRD, ADPM

SUBJECT: FY07 BFIF REPORTING FROM DUSHANBE

REF: REF A: STATE 087036; REF B: DUSHANBE 690

DUSHANBE 00001046  001.2 OF 002

1.  Embassy Dushanbe submits the following report per Ref A

regarding participation in the Business Facilitation Incentive

Fund (BFIF) program.  Post thanks the Economic Bureau for its

support for these two successful programs.

2.  Dushanbe - Regional Transportation Infrastructure Conference

BFIF contribution: $2,000

Amount disbursed: $2,000

Budget breakdown:

$500 for conference facility rental

$1,000 for interpretation

$500 for in-country transportation expenses

BFIF funds contributed to the Central Asian Transportation

Infrastructure Conference in Dushanbe May 7, sponsored by the

U.S. Department of Commerce along with Embassy Dushanbe.  The

conference provided an opportunity for Central Asian transport

representatives to discuss their accomplishments and challenges

within their respective transport sectors, along with the

potential for future cooperation and growth.  Representatives

from Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan focused

on improving aviation and road construction to integrate Central

and South Asia.  The high level of participation -- more than 80

attendees -- demonstrated the desire for economic integration in

the region and building/renovating roads between Kazakhstan and

Karachi.

Department of Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe

Paul Dyck opened the conference by explaining the U.S.

government desire to expand U.S. trade links with Central Asia,

while reducing trade and investment barriers through initiatives

such as the Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework

Agreement.  He also highlighted our mutual goal to create a

regional electricity market, improve customs regimes and border

security, and integrate telecom systems.  A representative from

Caterpillar made a presentation on their products to the

audience, with potential sales leads.

Continued U.S. support for development and reform in the Central

Asian transportation sector remains necessary to keep the

dialogue going.  This conference demonstrated that regional

leaders share the goals of Central and South Asian regional

integration, and are actively working towards them.

3.  Dushanbe - Tajik-Afghan Cross Border Trade

BFIF contribution: $9,500

Amount disbursed: $1,956

Detailed budget breakdown of costs incurred May 2 - June 2:

Salary                       56

Honoraria                  220

Taxes                       116

Communications        84

Stationary                 100

Seminar costs           1,380

                                -------------

Total                         1,956

The Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia, through its sub-grantee

non-governmental organization "Sapeda", has conducted a series

of seminars for businesspeople in the border areas of Tajikistan

and Afghanistan in the vicinity of the U.S.-funded Nizhniy Pyanj

bridge that will open in August.  Over 480 people attended the

seminars that will increase the possibility for cross-border

trade.  Sapeda will complete a legal manual in Tajik and Dari

for government officials and entrepreneurs, and the project will

culminate in a trade fair in September.

The project builds on the success of two previous cross-border

partnership projects implemented by Sapeda and the Eurasia

Foundation and will help small businesses and farmers on both

sides realize their trade potential by seeking to eliminate

administrative barriers across the border.  Bolstering

cross-border trade and small and medium enterprises fits with

Embassy Kabul's and Embassy Dushanbe's mission priorities of

DUSHANBE 00001046  002.2 OF 002

economic development and regional trade.  The project gets to

the heart of regional economic integration by building capacity

on both sides that could lead to increased markets for U.S.

products and equipment.

JACOBSON

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

id: 114862

date: 7/10/2007 7:55

refid: 07DUSHANBE1051

origin: Embassy Dushanbe

classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

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----------------- header ends ----------------

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DUSHANBE 001051

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, KDEM, TI

SUBJECT: NEW TV STATION AIRS AS MEDIA ENVIRONMENT CONTINUES TO

DETERIORATE

DUSHANBE 00001051  001.2 OF 002

1.  (U)  Tajikistan's new "Simoi Mustaqili Tojikiston" or

"Independent Television of Tajikistan" is a mysterious private

television company which started broadcasting in June 2007.  The

station reportedly broadcasts to Dushanbe and surrounding areas

daily for two hours in the morning and for six hours in the

evening, but most Embassy contacts report that they have not

managed to catch any programs since it went on the air.  Voris

Nazar, Deputy Director of Independent Television of Tajikistan

explained to PolOff June 22 that the station's programming will

consist of documentaries as well as news and cultural shows.

2.  (U)  The station's director is Zinatullo Ismoilov, the

former assistant to the chairman of the Committee on Television

and Radio.  Independent Television of Tajikistan managed to

obtain a broadcasting license on September 20, 2006.  Other

non-state radio and television stations have a difficult time

obtaining broadcasting licenses and the committee usually

explains that it will not issue any new licenses until a new law

governing broadcasting regulations is passed.  (Note: The

U.S.-funded Internews community radio stations have faced this

kind bureaucratic stonewalling over the last 12 months. End

Note.)  Nazar refused to explain who founded and funds

Independent Television of Tajikistan and how the station managed

to receive a broadcasting license.

3.  (SBU)  In a series of meetings with PolOff July 2-5, local

journalists and media representatives were skeptical that the

new station could be characterized as truly "independent."

Although none could definitively identify the station's

financier or supporter, two names surfaced frequently:  Hasan

Sadulloev, Chairman of Orionbank, and Murodali Alimardanov,

Chairman of the National Bank.  Both men are well connected and

influential enough to pull strings at the Committee on

Television and Radio.  Both also have sufficient wealth to fund

the station's start-up costs.

THE POWER OF TELEVISION

4.  (SBU)  Why would Sadulloev or Alimardanov want to start his

own television company?  Saodat Anvarova, Country Director of

the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, explained that

television advertising revenue is profitable.  Another embassy

source hypothesizes that the financier is actually putting

himself in a strategic position to run for political office in

the future.  Television is able to reach a wider audience than

print media.  However, most Tajiks spend little time watching

the state-owned television programming which is inundated with

news and video clips of President Rahmon.  Because of this,

local viewers turn to more entertaining satellite television,

mostly from Russia.  Tajik towns bordering Uzbekistan receive

Uzbek television feeds.  Anvarova recounted a media report of a

little boy in Turson-zade, a Tajik town near the Uzbek border,

who when asked who his president is, replied "Karimov" -- the

Uzbek president.

5.  (SBU)  Sources point out that regardless of who is the

founder of Independent Television of Tajikistan, it enjoys the

government's blessing.  Some suggest the station itself may have

been created by the government in order to give the appearance

that media freedom is improving.

THE DECLINE OF PRINT MEDIA

6.  (U)  Print media is unfortunately not as profitable as

television, and since the fall of the Soviet Union, newspaper

circulation has dropped precipitously.  Language barriers and

illiteracy, together with the end of mandatory student

subscriptions and subsidized printing and transportation, have

contributed to the decline of print media.  Small papers that

report on politics, such as Nigoh, have problems attracting

advertisers.  Nigoh's Editor-in-Chief, Nurali Davlatov,

estimates that in order for the paper to be profitable it needs

to distribute more than 10,000 copies.  Distribution, in turn,

presents its own problems.  Tajikistan's mountains and poor

transportation infrastructure prohibit widespread distribution

of any one national paper.  Khurshed Atoulloev of Faraj

newspaper estimates that 60 percent of the rural population only

speaks Tajiki, and the larger newspapers such as Asia-Plus or

Avesta's Fakti i Kommentarii are published in Russian.  He says

that television appeals to people more because "they just have

to sit and watch it."

DUSHANBE 00001051  002.2 OF 002

7.  (U)  Davlatov said that the quality of journalism overall

has declined.  The new generation of journalists trained after

the fall of the Soviet Union are inadequately skilled at

reporting and investigative journalism.  After independence and

especially after the start of the civil war, the education

system in Tajikistan suffered when Russian professionals

including teachers left the country en masse, resulting in a

poorly-educated young population.  Davlatov sighed when he noted

that Tajiks no longer consider journalism a prestigious

profession.  Tajik journalists also practice self-censorship,

and many are not fully aware of Tajik laws ensuring limited

freedom of expression.  This means that law enforcement will

often take advantage of the general lack of knowledge about

press freedom and punish journalists who push the envelope.

MEDIA FREEDOM CONTINUES TO DETERIORATE

8.  (SBU)  Journalists and media professionals say media freedom

has deteriorated since the November 2006 presidential election.

In addition to censoring themselves, many journalists respect

the unwritten rules such as not criticizing government policy or

the president's inner circle.  (Note: Tajikistan's criminal code

article 137 forbids offending or slandering the president.  End

Note.) City officials use excuses to threaten media

organizations such as accusing them of not paying taxes or the

electricity bill.  Immediately prior to the presidential

election, some "opposition" and information internet websites

were blocked.  Nuriddin Qarshiboev of the National Association

of Independent Mass Media in Tajikistan reported that in late

June parliament passed eight amendments restricting internet

freedom.  Parliament sources have confirmed this, and post is

attempting to find copies of the passed legislation.

9.  (SBU)  Based on our recent discussions, most Tajik

journalists agree that the following changes are needed to

foster a freer media environment and increase public access to

independent news sources:

-- An independent printing press.  The largest publishing house

in Tajikistan is state-run and other smaller private printing

presses simply will not print controversial material.

-- A private distribution company to reliably distribute and

sell the newspapers instead of relying on individual street

vendors.  Newspaper owners say that the Tajik postal system is

too expensive and unreliable.

-- Increased transparency of the Committee on Television and

Radio, and particularly the Commission on Broadcasting and

Licensing within the committee.  Media sources say the committee

is considering changing the regulations to categorize frequency

waves as state secrets which would make it more difficult for

media organizations to apply for frequency waves to broadcast.

-- A government strategy for developing the mass media industry

in Tajikistan.  The current technique of imposing legislation in

an attempt to regulate the industry ends up restricting media

freedom.

10.  (SBU) Two other large-scale improvements to support media

freedom include:

-- Improved infrastructure links to enable news to reach remote

regions; and

-- Constant electricity to allow people to watch television or

access internet more often.

11.  (SBU)  COMMENT:  Independent Television of Tajikistan may

not be completely independent, but it is a privately run

station.  If the station succeeds commercially, it may spur

other investors to consider opening media outlets to create a

stronger industry that can stand up to government pressure.

However, the government's watchful eye and heavy hand on the

media even after the presidential election is concerning.  Short

of a reversal of the government's heavy -handed policies to keep

journalists scared and timid, Tajikistan's electronic media will

likely not become a source of independent news or open debate.

Similarly, in an age of declining literacy rates and increased

government scrutiny, it is unlikely Tajikistan's print media

will flourish.  END COMMENT.

JACOBSON

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

id: 115007

date: 7/11/2007 10:47

refid: 07DUSHANBE1056

origin: Embassy Dushanbe

classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

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----------------- header ends ----------------

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DUSHANBE 001056

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN, DRL

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, KIRF, TI

SUBJECT: JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES FIGHTING TO IMPORT LITERATURE UNDER

TAJIK LAW

REF: A)  DUSHANBE 790  B) DUSHANBE 623

DUSHANBE 00001056  001.2 OF 002

1. (SBU) Summary:  Jehovah's Witness Associate Counsel Gregory

Olds expressed concern that that Customs officials' recent

seizure of a shipment of his organization's religious literature

represents a worrying shift in the Tajik government's attitude

towards religious freedom and censorship.  During his July 10

meeting with Ambassador and PolOff, Olds noted that whereas the

Customs Service previously complied with well-publicized

restrictions on the import of pornography and other

objectionable material, there now appears to be a more nebulous,

cumbersome and arbitrary system in place - demanding the

affirmative approval of the Ministry of Culture that individual

materials are suitable for dissemination in Tajikistan.  Kiril

Kulikov, a Russian lawyer for Jehovah's Witness handling the

organization's legal action against the Tajik Customs Service,

provided an overview of ongoing court proceedings in Dushanbe.

End Summary

2.  (SBU) Background:  When a shipment of Jehovah's Witness

religious literature arrived in Tajikistan April 17, customs

officials determined that the organization did not have

permission from the Department of Religious Affairs under the

Ministry of Culture to import the materials and seized the

shipment. (Reftel A).  Samples went to the Ministry of Culture

for "expert study" in order to verify their conformance with

Tajik laws.  This study - which  the ministry has not released -

allegedly found  the materials to be illegal, and prompted the

State Committee on National Security to request that the

offending shipment be transported out of the country.

WORKING WITHIN THE SYSTEM

3.  (SBU)  Olds conveyed his organization's respect for the

right of any sovereign nation to regulate the import of

pornographic and other offensive materials.  However, he also

emphasized that a censorship campaign actively targeting

Jehovah's Witness members and activities would not be met by

meek acquiescence.  Therefore, his organization is responding

through both political and legal channels in Tajikistan.

4.  (SBU) On the political front, Olds has come to Dushanbe from

Jehovah's Witness headquarters in New York to raise awareness

among diplomatic missions of the freedom of religion issues at

stake, and to attempt to meet with high-level Tajik officials to

resolve the issue.  Sensing that the seized shipment may have

raised eyebrows in part due to its large size (approximately

five tons), Olds noted that he was authorized to negotiate with

Tajik authorities on the volume of literature and other

materials imported by his organization.  In addition, Olds

expressed interest in meeting Muradullo Davlatov, Deputy

Minister of Culture for Religious Affairs, because Davlatov's

hostility towards Jehovah's Witness activities seems to be a

primary source of the organization's present difficulties.

However local representatives of Jehovah's Witness have

unsuccessfully tried to meet with senior Ministry of Culture

officials over the past month.

5. (SBU) Jehovah's Witness representatives have brought two

legal actions against the Customs Service.  However, initial

results have been discouraging and both cases are currently

under appeal.  In the first case, the judge demanded that

counsel for Jehovah's Witness produce the "expert report" of the

Ministry of Culture that formed the basis of the State Committee

on National Security's decision to order the removal of the

shipment.  However, on order of the State Committee on National

Security, the Ministry of Culture refused to release the report.

 Without the report, the judge ruled that Jehovah's Witness

could not prove its case, and the action was dismissed.  In the

second case, the judge ruled that the involvement of the State

Committee on National Security made the issue a military matter,

and that the action must therefore be dismissed and re-filed in

military court.

6.  (SBU) Despite the difficulties pursuing claims through

official legal channels, both Olds and the Ambassador agreed

that such steps are necessary and crucial, and may produce

unexpected results.  However, Ambassador also noted that the

recent troubles experienced by Jehovah's Witnesses in Tajikistan

(including allegations of physical assault by the authorities,

in addition to the seizure of their literature, reftel A) are

symptomatic of a broader trend of increased governmental control

over all religious activity and many other aspects of life in

Tajikistan since the November 2006 presidential election.

DUSHANBE 00001056  002.2 OF 002

7.  (SBU) Comment:  The Jehovah's Witnesses have a long struggle

ahead, with a national government increasingly suspicious of

outside organizations and the Ministry of Culture and State

Committee on National Security looking for reasons to seize

their literature, interrupt meetings (reftel B), and interrogate

their members.  Using the Tajik court system, however

dysfunctional, to fight for their cause is an essential step to

convincing local authorities to respect the freedom of religion

guaranteed under the Tajik constitution.  Post will continue to

monitor the situation, and raise the issue with top-level

government officials, emphasizing Tajikistan's legal obligations

and international agreements for freedom of religion. End

Comment.

JACOBSON

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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UNCLAS DUSHANBE 001057

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN, DRL, G/TIP

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PREL, PHUM, TI

SUBJECT: TAJIKISTAN PROMISES CONTINUED ANTI-TIP REFORMS

1.  (SBU)  PolOff delivered the Russian translation of the

Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report to Abdurahmon Azimov, head

of the Interagency Commission Against Trafficking in Persons,

July 5.  (Note: PolOff had previously delivered the Trafficking

in Persons report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the day it

was released in English. End Note.)  When Azimov questioned

Tajikistan's Tier 2 ranking, PolOff explained that although

Tajikistan is making efforts to curb trafficking, it still does

not meet the minimum standards for the elimination of

trafficking.  PolOff expressed appreciation for the actions

already taken by the government and outlined the areas where the

government needs to improve, including: amending trafficking

legislation to better define trafficking, the need to curb

corruption, particularly among government offices, and the need

vigorously to investigate, prosecute, convict and sentence

traffickers or those involved in trafficking crimes.

2.  (SBU) Azimov thanked PolOff for the United States' critique

of Tajikistan's anti-trafficking efforts and for the Embassy's

support and assistance.  He informed PolOff that the interagency

commission has submitted draft amendments to Tajikistan's

trafficking in persons law and expects parliament will pass it

soon.  Imbedded in the draft laws are provisions that mandate

the government finance and set up an additional five shelters

for trafficking victims.  In addition, various government

ministries and agencies are contributing to a new draft body of

law regarding corruption.  Azimov said the law will include

specific points on corruption related to trafficking in persons.

3.  (SBU) Azimov produced a lengthy report and explained that

the interagency recently audited the Ministry of Interior to

examine its anti-trafficking activities.  Azimov commented that

the Ministry of Interior is "doing its job," but did not

elaborate.  The government continues to repatriate victims from

the United Arab Emirates and organize seminars to train

government officials to fight trafficking in persons.  In April,

President Rahmon visited the United Arab Emirates and signed

five bilateral cooperation agreements which included an

agreement between the two countries' Ministries of Interior for

increased cooperation to fight organized crime rings and an

extradition agreement.  In addition, 25 Afghan officials have

visited Tajikistan on an exchange to share information and learn

from each other's experiences in combating trafficking in

persons.

4.  (U) The Embassy has posted the TIP report on the Embassy

website in English and Russian and will soon post it in Tajiki.

PolOff presented the report at a student conversation group at

the Bactria Center June 20 and at the American Corner July 3.

Post will also host a roundtable discussion and show a film

later this month.

JACOBSON

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 TASHKENT 001301

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/CEN AND DRL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/16/2017

TAGS: PGOV, KIRF, UZ, TX, TI

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR-AT-LARGE HANFORD MEETS WITH

UZBEKISTAN'S RELIGIOUS LEADERS

REF: TASHKENT 1197

TASHKENT 00001301  001.2 OF 004

Classified By: CDA BRAD HANSON FOR REASONS 1.4 (B, D).

1. (C) Summary: During a five-day visit to Uzbekistan from

June 25 to June 30, Ambassador-at-large for International

Religious Freedom John Hanford met several of Uzbekistan's

religious leaders, including the Mufti and the head Imam of

Tashkent, the Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church,

the Roman Catholic Bishop, a leader of Tashkent's Jewish

community, several protestant pastors and the former Mufti of

Uzbekistan and Central Asia, Muhammad Sodiq Muhammad Yusuf.

During a one-day visit to Bukhara, Hanford visited the

Naqshbandi shrine complex, a synagogue, a Shiite mosque, and

a Sunni madrassah.  The meetings were cordial, but perhaps

aware of ever-present MFA minders, virtually all participants

stressed the high degree of inter-religious harmony.

Nevertheless, the meetings yielded some useful information,

including about the country's system of religious education,

and some participants supported amending the 1998 religious

law to allow for more religious education and to permit

organizations with fewer than one hundred members to

register.  Former Mufti Muhammad Sodiq Muhammad Yusuf

advocated dropping many restrictions on private religious

education, which he said had been a response to a terrorist

threat that is no longer so urgent.  End Summary.

2. (C) From June 25-30, Ambassador-at-large for International

Religious Freedom John Hanford visited Uzbekistan to meet

with government and religious leaders.  The visit aimed to

open a dialogue to improve religious freedom following the

USG's designation of Uzbekistan in November 2006 as a Country

of Particular Concern (CPC) for religious freedom.  Officials

of the Foreign Ministry and Committee on Religious Affairs

left a narrow opening for the possibility of change in the

country's law on religion (septel), while a series of

meetings with representatives of several religious

communities focused on issues particular to those groups.

The visit included a one-day excursion to Bukhara.

Meeting with the Mufti and Tashkent Head Imam

---------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) On June 26, Ambassador Hanford met with Mufti Usmon

qori Alemov, the leader of Uzbekistan's Muslim community, and

Tashkent's Head Imam Anvar qori Tursunov at the

newly-constructed Headquarters of the Muslim Spiritual Board.

 They explained the Muslim Board's role as overseer for all

mosques and institutions of Islamic learning in the country,

including eight maddrassahs, the religious Tashkent Islamic

Institute and the secular Tashkent Islamic University.  After

the meeting, Hanford was given a tour of the new

Government-funded Hazrati Imam Mosque, which opened on June 5

after four months of construction and can hold 3,500

congregants, as well as a new library complex holding

reportedly the world's oldest authenticated Qu'ran.

4. (C) Imam Tursunov, echoing the script followed by almost

every official who met with Ambassador Hanford, expressed

disbelief at Uzbekistan's CPC designation and reminded

Hanford that the International Islamic Educational,

Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) had designated

Tashkent as one of the world's Islamic Cultural Capitals for

2007.  Mufti Alemov and Imam Tursunov denied that the

Government restricts the rights of Muslims in Uzbekistan and

said that all Muslims in prison are criminals or terrorists.

Tursunov told of meeting inmates who claimed to be religious

prisoners but actually knew almost nothing about Islam.

Alemov said that Uzbekistan already has enough religious

institutions and that each family is responsible for teaching

their children about Islam.  He also said that barriers for

opening new mosques do not exist where demand is great

enough.  Commenting on registration restrictions in the 1998

religion law, Mufti Alemov said the law reflects a Hanafi

Sunni tradition that congregations should have more than one

hundred members before building a mosque (Note: The vast

majority of Muslims in Uzbekistan are Hanafi Sunni.  End

Note.)  On June 27, Hanford also met with Rector Shuhrat

Yovkochev at the Tashkent Islamic University.

TASHKENT 00001301  002.2 OF 004

Orthodox Metropolitan: Let's Fight Extremism Together

--------------------------------------------- --------

5. (SBU) On June 27, Ambassador Hanford met with Metropolitan

Vladimir at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral.  Metropolitan

Vladimir said that his diocese includes all of Central Asia,

except for Kazakhstan, and that within Uzbekistan, 35

congregations are registered and one is awaiting

registration.  The Metropolitan told Hanford that he was not

interested in registering congregations with less than one

hundred people because it would be financially difficult to

support them.

6. (C) In general, Metropolitan Vladimir took a more

combative tone than the other religious leaders.  He sharply

criticized Protestant groups in Uzbekistan, including

Baptists and Pentecostals, as well as Jehovah,s Witnesses

for aggressively proselytizing to Muslims and members of his

church.  He was also critical of religious "fanatics" within

the United States.  Instead of agreeing to support greater

religious freedom in Uzbekistan, the Metropolitan offered

cooperation in fighting protestant religious "extremism" in

Uzbekistan and the United States.  (Note: In an odd sidebar,

the Metropolitan accused U.S. warplanes at the Manas Air

Force Base in Kyrgyzstan of dumping kerosene while in the

air, which he says has polluted the land and caused cancer in

animals.  He said that Kyrgyz President Bakiev has requested

financial compensation from U.S. government officials, but

was rebuffed.  End note.)

Meetings with Tashkent Jewish Leader and Catholic Bishop

--------------------------------------------- ----------

7. (SBU) On June 27, Ambassador Hanford also met at the

Embassy with Boris Shimonov of Tashkent's Jewish Community

and the Roman Catholic Bishop Jerzi Matsulevich.  Shimonov

said that eight synagogues were registered in Uzbekistan, and

that Jews did not face any type of harassment or

discrimination.  Matsulevich, a Polish citizen, said that the

Catholic Church has approximately 650 members throughout

Uzbekistan.  He said that the Church does not have problems

with the Government in Tashkent, but sometimes has problems

at the local level, such as in Urgench.  Matsulevich said

that the Catholic and Lutheran Churches in Uzbekistan agree

the 1998 Religion Law should be amended so that religious

organizations already registered at the federal level could

open branch congregations in the regions without

registration.

Persecution of Protestants and Jehovah's Witnesses

--------------------------------------------- -----

8. (C) On June 29, Ambassador Hanford met with three

representatives of "nontraditional" religious groups:

Vifaniya (Bethany) Baptist Church Pastor Nikolai Shevchenko,

Jehovah's Witnesses representative Sergei Artyushkov and

Andijon Pentecostal Pastor Bakhtiyor Tuychiev.  (Strictly

protect.)  Pastor Shevchenko said that his Vifaniya Baptist

Church has two branches and a total of 230 members in

Tashkent.  After the Urgench branch of the Baptist Church

lost its registration, the Church also lost its national

registration, as nationally registered religious

organizations require at least eight provincially registered

branches.  Shevchenko added that no Baptist Church has been

granted registration in Uzbekistan since 1999.  Artyushkov

told Ambassador Hanford about the cases of Irfan Hamidov and

Dilafruz Arziyeva, two members of the unregistered Jehovah's

Witnesses congregation in Samarkand who were recently

convicted of illegally teaching religion on the basis of

falsified testimony (reftel).

9. (C) Andijon Pentecostal Pastor Bakhtiyor Tuychiev's

Church, which opened in 1996, used to have approximately one

hundred members, but has ceased activities due to pressure

from authorities and local residents.  Tuychiev himself

recently sold his house and is now renting an apartment in

Tashkent.  Although Tuychiev was warned by Uzbek authorities

not to flee Uzbekistan, he plans to leave the country.

TASHKENT 00001301  003.2 OF 004

Before he left, Tuychiev was the last of four active

Protestant pastors in Andijan (Note: Another Andijon

Pentecostal Pastor, Dmitry Shestakov, was sentenced to four

years in a labor camp on March 9 for alleged "extremist"

activities. End Note.)  Tuychiev said that National Security

Service (NSS) agents have attempted to infiltrate his church,

often by asking to borrow money and then claiming that they

were paid to convert to Christianity.

Meeting with former Mufti

-------------------------

10. (C) On June 29, Former Mufti Muhammad Sodiq Muhammad

Yusuf received Ambassador Hanford at his Tashkent home.  He

noted his close and continuing ties with the Embassy and

praised the USG's attention to religious freedom, notably in

speaking out for Muslim Uighurs in China.  He said that he

was a particularly close reader of the USG's annual

International Religious Freedom Report.  He said the report's

authors should pay close attention to accurate reporting,

especially when the report might result in Uzbekistan's

inclusion in a "black list" and possible sanctions against

the country.  (Note: He did not, however, note any particular

inaccuracies in the report.  End note.)

11. (C) Muhammad Sodiq asked that the United States use its

influence to assist the former Mufti of Turkmenistan,

Nasrulla Ibodullayev, who was sentenced to 22 years'

imprisonment on allegedly false charges after a trial lasting

only one day.  Muhammad Sodiq said he was in regular contact

with the Nasrulla family, and there was some hope for

improvement.  Turkmenistan government representatives told

them that they could travel and they would organize a meeting

for Nasrulla with his mother.  According to Muhammad Sodiq,

the late President Niyazov gave his spiritual book, Rukhnama,

to Nasrulla to present in Mecca; his refusal to do so was his

downfall.

12. (C) Muhammad Sodiq also commented on the situation of

religious freedom in Tajikistan, which he said had seriously

worsened in recent months.  Restrictions now included harsh

limitations on the length and frequency of imams' sermons, as

well as religious ceremonies such as weddings.

13. (C) Muhammad Sodiq commented on Uzbekistan's religion

law, saying that its ban on private religious education was a

specific response to the increased threat of terrorism

several years ago.  Now that the terrorist threat has

diminished somewhat, he said, some of the restrictions on

education should be dropped.  He noted that both he and his

daughter teach religion in their home without direct

permission from authorities.  These teachings have helped to

bring more worshipers to the mosques.  Based on the questions

he received via his website, Muhammad Sodiq thought the level

of religious understanding was improving.  He did acknowledge

that innocent people were sometimes accused of extremism, but

said that in the majority of cases that he personally had

examined, the prisoners were in fact guilty of a crime.

Trip to Bukhara

---------------

14. (SBU) During a one-day visit to Bukhara on June 28,

Ambassador Hanford toured the Naqshbandi shrine complex, one

of the most important Sufi shrines in Central Asia, with Imam

Qotib Abdugofur Razzoq, the Head Imam of Bukhara Province.

Hanford met also with Rabbi Aron Siyanov, Chairman of the

local Jewish Community Yusuf Ustaev and Chairman of the

Jewish Cultural Center Abram Iskhakov.  Rabbi Siyanov said

that the Jewish community in Bukhara has dwindled from 80,000

in 1990 to only 600 today, with most emigrating to the United

States or Israel.  However, Siyanov noted that while Bukhara

only had one synagogue in 1990, thanks to Government support,

a second synagogue has recently opened.  He vehemently

testified to the complete religious freedom that the

government grants to the Jewish community, as well as

financial support which the community receives from local

businesses.

TASHKENT 00001301  004.2 OF 004

15. (SBU) Ambassador Hanford was greeted by Imam Ibrohim

Habibov at the Hoji Mir-Ali Shia Mosque.  Habibov stressed

that Bukhara's Shia minority lived in harmony with its Sunni

majority.  Imam Habibov said that between 150,000 and 200,000

Shia live in the Bukhara region.  Many of Uzbekistan's Shia

are traders and small merchants, traveling frequently to

other Central Asian countries, Iran and the Gulf.  Habivov

mentioned there is much intermarriage between Shia and Sunni

in Uzbekistan.  In addition to the Hoji Mir-Ali Mosque,

another Shia mosque is located in the rural region of Kogon

near Bukhara.  Habibov's mosque has been undergoing

renovations since 1998, which have been supported by both

private donations and the Bukhara city government.  Habibov

said that there are no Shia Maddrassahs in Uzbekistan, and

that he was trained at the reknown Mir-i Arab Sunni

Maddrassah in Bukhara.

16. (SBU) During an impromptu visit to the historic Mir-i

Arab Madrassah, Ambassador Hanford conversed with its

director, Mujhiddin Nugmanov.  Mir-i Arab was the only

officially operating madrassah in the entire Soviet Union,

and therefore has among its alumni some of the most important

Islamic leaders in the region today, including the current

muftis of Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and

Kyrgyzstan.  Today, the Mir-i Arab Madrassah has one hundred

male students and offers a mixed curriculum of religious and

secular subjects.  When asked by Hanford, Nugmanov said that

Uzbekistan has two madrassahs for females, including the

Juibori Kalon Madrassah in Bukhara and another one in

Tashkent.

Comment

-------

17. (C) The meetings between Ambassador Hanford and the

religious leaders were cordial, but perhaps aware of

ever-present MFA minders, most of the participants were

reluctant to criticize the Government and stressed the high

degree of inter-religious harmony in Uzbekistan.  The

Protestant representatives were the most openly critical of

the Government's policies towards religious freedom, most

likely because they endure the full brunt of the Government's

religious persecution and their meeting was the only one

without MFA minders present.  Nevertheless, useful

information was gleaned from the visits, including about the

country's system of religious education.  Some of the

religious leaders, including the Catholic Bishop and the

former Mufti Muhammad Sodiq Muhammad Yusuf, also expressed

support for amending Uzbekistan's restrictive 1998 religious

law.  In particular, former Mufti Muhammad Sodiq Muhammad

Yusuf advocated dropping many restrictions on private

religious education, which he said had been a response to a

terrorist threat that is no longer so urgent.

HANSON

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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Источник: ИА "Авеста"
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