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Tajik Documentary Sparks Row With Iran

Tehran denies training and funding Islamist assassins during Tajik civil war.

10 August 2017

A documentary aired on Tajik state television 8 August claimed that Iran was behind the killings of prominent figures in the 1990s and early 2000s and backed the now-banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), RFE/RL writes.


In the film, which a spokesman said the Interior Ministry had cooperated on, according to Reuters, three men in handcuffs say they received training and financial support from Iran.


The three – one of whom is serving an 18-year sentence for murder, sabotage, and illegal arms possession – are identified as supporters of Abduhalim Nazarzoda (pictured), a former deputy defense minister whom the government accused of mounting a coup attempt in 2015.


Nazarzoda was a commander of the Islamist party that battled the government for five years until a peace settlement took effect in 1997. The IRPT was legalized and remained Central Asia’s sole legal Islamist party until 2015, when the government banned it and arrested several party leaders.


In the film, the Interior Ministry claims Iran used Nazarzoda as a channel for funds and instructions to carry out assassinations to IRPT militants, according to RFE.


Nazarzoda was blamed for mounting attacks on military and police facilities in and around Dushanbe in September 2015, and was killed in a subsequent firefight with government forces.


In response to the film, the Iranian Embassy in Dushanbe pointed to Tehran’s efforts to end the Tajik civil war.


“No doubt the producers of this film cannot undermine the cultural and civilizational bonds and the historical friendship between the two nations of Iran and Tajikistan,” an embassy press release stated, according to the Tasnim News Agency.



  • Other events have strained the relations between Iran and Tajikistan. During the trial of Iranian business mogul Babak Zanjani, Tehran accused him of transferring some $2 billion to Tajikistan’s National Bank, RFE reports. 


  • Iranian leaders received exiled IRPT leader Muhiddin Kabiri “with open arms” in December 2016, although Iran’s chief mufti, Saidmukarram Abdulkodirzoda, denounced their act “to “openly support the enemies of the Tajik nation”, wrote.


  • The Iranian-backed Imam Khomeini Relief Committee charity that supports poor families in Tajikistan was temporarily suspended in 2016 for several alleged legal violations, The Diplomat reported.

Compiled by Crystal Tai

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