Tuesday 29 November 2011

Russia teaches Tajikistan a lesson

Maybe it was a Tajik overreaction, but definitely, definitely, was an overreaction (politically calculated) on the Russian side. Hundreds of Tajik immigrants were invited by the Russian authorities to beat it this month after Dushambe dared to arrest a Russian pilot and his Estonian colleague who landed their plane in its territory with no authorisation. The Tajik authorities say they were smugglers, but Russia refuted - of course, as you know, the Russian Federation is not influenced at all by crooks and mobsters, so such accusation is really outrageous. More than a million Tajiks live in the Russian Federation. Many are illegally in the country, but most certainly are honest people who work really hard to send money to their families in the poorest of the former Soviet Central Asian Republics. Anything that affects these immigrants in Russia is bound to have a serious effect in the economy of the country. Of course, it didn’t take long for the Tajik authorities to release the Russian.

The fact is that Russia is about to go to the polls, and Putin is eager to make a profit on the anti-immigration sentiment that has taken the country. Actually, he doesn’t even need to do that – his party will surely win by a landslide the Parliamentary election in December, and then next year Tsar Vladimir will certainly be back to his throne. This anti-immigration sentiment has been growing for years – to a point that it has lead to some laughable remarks, like those of Chief Sanitary Officer of Russia, Gennady Onishchenko, who suggested that the Tajik immigration be halted on health grounds (curiously, on previous occasions, Onishchenko recommended that wine imports from Georgia and Moldova be halted, when the relations between those countries and Russia went sour). However, the decision of Russia is not only about exploiting the current trend. It is about highlighting its control and power over Tajikistan – a country which is still so dependent of Russia, even 20 years after its “independence”. It takes place in a moment in which Russia is about to adopt, together with Kazakhstan and Belarus, a Customs Union (which probably will be more harmful than beneficial to Astana, but certainly will be very good for Moscow). Anyway, a question needs to be asked: Tajikistan, how dare you believe you could do anything against a Russian citizen? You naughty, naughty country.

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