A well-known medical entrepreneur and owner of the Ibn Sino clinic, Abdukhalil Kholikzoda, and writer Abdukodir Rustam were arrested in Tajikistan. The businessman was arrested in early August, and the writer on August 31, but this became known only now. The arrests are associated with the release of Kholikzoda’s book of memoirs, “Events of My Life,” which was published in March and which was written and edited by Rustam.
In the book, the businessman openly talks about corruption and the poor business climate in Tajikistan, as well as the decline in the level of culture and education over the past 25 years – and blames the country’s authorities for this. Now the book has been confiscated from all bookstores in Tajikistan, and several people involved in its publication have been interrogated.
In the book, Kholikzoda writes in particular: “In the years after independence, values such as knowledge and meritocracy collapsed very quickly. And those who had position, wealth and power were considered respected.” The businessman also writes that after the end of the civil war in Tajikistan (in 1997), many investors came to the country. But few of them remained: due to pressure from the authorities, their ranks quickly thinned out. As an example, the author cites the arrest of the founder and owner of the Orima retail chain, Maruf Orifov.
Kholikzoda emphasizes that due to such actions by the authorities, entrepreneurs, including foreign ones, do not believe in the rule of law and a healthy business climate in Tajikistan and are in no hurry to invest in the country.
The fact that it was his book that served as the reason for the arrest of the businessman was confirmed during a recent press conference by the Prosecutor General of Tajikistan Yusuf Rahmon, the matchmaker of President Emomali Rahmon (his son is the husband of the president’s youngest daughter). He accused Kholikzoda of “insulting the Tajik people, taking revenge, inciting hatred and enmity between people, dividing them into different madhhabs and religions, and introducing instability into the security of the country.” The Supreme Court of Tajikistan, in a written response to the Tajik service of Radio Liberty/Ozodi, confirmed that a decision on preliminary arrest was made against Kholikzoda and a criminal case was initiated under Article 189 (Incitement of social, racial, national, regional, religious (confessional) hostility or discord by a group persons by prior conspiracy) of the Criminal Code of Tajikistan.
Sources from the Tajik service of Radio Liberty also reported that at one of the meetings of the executive office of the President of Tajikistan in mid-July, Prosecutor General Yusuf Rahmon directly demanded the arrest of the author of the book. “He said directly: do you really support a person who writes against the authorities?” – the source quotes the prosecutor from the words of his close friend – a participant in this meeting.
After this, on August 30, the Jumhuriyat newspaper, the official publication of the government of Tajikistan, also published a critical article about the book “Events of My Life” authored by the literary critic and Ambassador of Tajikistan to Uzbekistan Abdujabbor Rahmonzoda. He stated that the author of the book “directly insults the Prosecutor General and discredits him in the eyes of the public.”
Isfandiyori Nazar, a Tajik poet living in Europe, previously supported the arrested businessman and believes that in his book Kholikzoda there are no signs of the crime he is accused of. “The main purpose of the arrest is to take over the business of this entrepreneur and put him in prison,” Nazar emphasized.
The authorities of Tajikistan have still not commented on the detention of the writer Abdukodir Rustam. But informed sources of the Tajik service of Radio Liberty/Ozodi confirmed that the arrest was connected specifically with the book: Abdukodir Rustam was one of its editors.
The arrest of the writer and businessman has already been condemned on social networks by representatives of the Tajik opposition: Group 24, banned in Tajikistan, stated that the arrest of Kholikzoda and Abdukodir Rustam indicates that the regime in Tajikistan understands only the “language of force.” And the National Alliance of Tajikistan, also a banned political force in Tajikistan, called the arrest of Abdukodir Rustam “an attack on the spirituality of the nation.”