On December 18 the Constitutional Court of Tajikistan began hearings in the case of the Communist Party (CPT) vs. the country’s presidency. The party is challenging President Imomali Rahmonov’s decree which ordered the confiscation of the CPT’s remaining property and handing it over to the state. CPT First Secretary Shodi Shabdolov argues that the party has since 1992 voluntarily handed over the Central Committee headquarters and other valuable real estate, the party’s numerous motor vehicles and other assets to the state. According to Shabdolov, the party’s modest remaining assets were purchased from its own funds, mainly membership dues. The CPT contends in court that it is being politically persecuted.
The CPT was a major political factor in the coalition which seized power in 1992, triggering the civil war. The party has since atrophied as other political forces, based on regional and clan interests, and strengthened their hold on the government in Dushanbe. At the same time the Leninabad region, the CPT’s Soviet-era stronghold, is politically marginalized. The CPT still holds only ten parliamentary seats (out of 181), though it claims an implausible membership figure of 80,000 countrywide. Whatever the party’s real membership, its votes are up for grabs in the planned presidential and parliamentary elections. Rahmonov, who plans to seek reelection, has a vested interest in marginalizing the CPT in order to inherit its voters.
Meanwhile the CPT’s comrades in the European part of the former USSR are demonstrating the old internationalist solidarity. The first secretaries of the Ukrainian and the Moldovan Communist Parties, Petro Symonenko and Vladimir Voronin, have sent open letters to Rahmonov in support of the Tajik party (Russian agencies, December 19).
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