Russia is not the only former Soviet republic where opposition leaders are being gunned down in the street.
Last week, Umarali Kuvatov, leader of a Tajik movement called Group 24, who fled the country in 2012 reportedly after a business deal with President Emomali Rahmon’s son-in-law went wrong, fell ill while having dinner in Istanbul.
That (speculate the Turkish media) was a result of poisoning. Whether true or not, when he went outside for medical help, he was shot in the back of the head. His assassin vanished.
The murder came days after a parliamentary election in Tajikistan on March 1st. Monitors from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, an inter-governmental body, said half the votes they saw being counted should have been thrown out. They also reported ballot-box stuffing and intimidation.
Tajikistan has never had an election that was judged fair by independent observers. But in the past the opposition has been allowed to take a few seats–not enough to make a legislative difference, but a way of dealing with conflicts which, in the 1990s, erupted into a civil war that pitted a jumble of opposition parties against former Communist bosses led by Emomali Rahmon, now president.
A peace agreement in 1997 guaranteed the opposition, led by the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT), 30% of government positions.
Over the years Mr Rahmon has steadily reneged on the deal; this month, the IRPT was shut out of the national legislature for the first time.
The president seems to have turned his back on the country’s fragile post-civil-war order. The fear is that some opponents–angry at being denied even the vestiges of influence–may now respond violently.
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