WARLORDS IN TAJIKISTAN

WARLORDS IN TAJIKISTAN

Politics, economics and society is dominated by national and local warlords who have loyalties to various clans and roughly divided onto those who support the government and those who support the opposition. Some of the large ones can muster a force of 10,000 to 20,000 men if necessary. One Western official told the Washington Post, “Power here doesn’t come from your position. It’s all about who supports you in your position.”

Zarifmo Aslamshoyeva of CNN wrote: “A United Nations-brokered peace plan in 1997 left President Emomali Rahmon's secular government in place but gave some of his opponents, official jobs. Rahmon, who has Moscow's support, has sought to consolidate power and stamp out remnants of the former opposition-turned-warlords.” [Source: Zarifmo Aslamshoyeva, CNN, August 14, 2012]

Some warlords have names like “Ali the Boxer” and “Hitler.” Many warlords also serve as government ministers, mayors, officials and other official positions and are involved in drug trafficking, smuggling and black marketeering. To make any sort of business deals requires the approval of local and national warlords.

The reality of politics in Tajikistan seems to be as long the warlords get their share of the pie they will support the government. One warlord who supports president Rahmon told the Washington Post, “I can count on 20,000 or 30,000 men to support me—especially on behalf of the president. The president is president...And we should obey him like God.”

One of the most powerful warlord in the 1990s, Ibodullo Boimatov, was driving a bus until the civil war. He formed a militia and helped capture Dushanbe from rival clans. He was rewarded with the mayorship of the important city of Tursunzade and was a loyal Rahmon supporter. The Interior Minister Takub Salimov controlled 20,000 Interior Minister troops.

Warlords in Post-Civil War Tajikistan in the 1990s

In 1997, Radio Free Europe, reported: “One of the ugliest developments of the civil war in Tajikistan is the emergence of scores of heavily armed warlords who obey no law except that of their own interest. They may rule only a scraggy village and a few hillsides, or they may be master of most of a province. What they have in common is their ability to make impossible centralized government and constitutional order. [Source:Radio Free Europe, March 7, 1997 +++]

“President Emomali Rahmon in some ways resembles a head of state without a country in that even a short car ride from the center of the capital Dushanbe takes a traveller into areas controlled by one or other of these powerful and dangerous figures. To enter their territory without prior arrangment is to risk at best property and at worst life and limb. These men may have links either with the government or the opposition, or they may be criminals with a hand in the drugs trade, in kidnappings and in profiteering of all sorts. +++

“On the opposition side, the Islamists appear to have been able to impose better discipline on those local leaders and gunmen who would gladly set themselves up as warlords. The opposition, which controls the mountainous eastern part of the country, has been mindful of the great unpopularity of the government forces, which often acted like occupiers in the hill villages and towns. They have tried to avoid the same unpopularity. As their name implies, war has served the warlords well. A stable peace would curb their prerogatives and probably deprive them of much of their income.” +++

Powerful Warlords in Tajikistan in the 1990s

Radio Free Europe, reported: “One of the most powerful among the pro-government warlords is Mahmud Khudoyberdiev, who in the Soviet era was reportedly an officier of the 201st army division. He now controls more than half of Khatlon province, and appears able to defy president Rahmon at will. One of his most colourful exploits recently was to attack the city of Tursunzode, just west of Dushanbe, and drive out a rival faction led by Qodir Abdulloev. [Source: Radio Free Europe, March 7, 1997 +++]

“Khudoyberdiev was serving as the deputy chief of the elite presidential guard when the attack occurred. Rahmon ordered the warlord out of Tursunzode immediately, but Khudoyberdiev ignored that order until he was in control of the city and its big aluminium factory. When he pulled out he took care to leave an armed contingent to retain control of the area for him. Radio Free Europe correspondent says the aim of Khudoyberdiev's attack was most probably to bring under his influence the major aluminium plant, which is a lucrative source of income. Since the January assault on Tursunzode, Khudoyberdiev has been named as one of the government's experts at the peace talks in Moscow with the Tajik opposition. However, he has not yet attended any of the sessions. +++

“Khudoyberdiev's activities illustrate the strange realities of Tajik politics today. He steps in and out of the official framework of public life apparently at will: while a leader of the president's own guards, he goes off to use his men for a private military campaign to enhance his own influence. +++

“A similar duality of roles is evident in the career of Yaqub Salimov, a key figure who could be called the lord of the pro-government warlords. A former interior minister, Salimov rose to control much of the government military machine following the assassination of two other military leaders, Sangak Safarov and Faizali Saidov. By mid 1995 Salimov had managed the transition from the world of raw military power to the smoother path of diplomacy by becoming Tajikistan's ambassador to Turkey. But he still spends much time in Dushanbe to maintain his influence. +++

“Illustrating the intermeshing of the various strands of power in Dushanbe is the fact that Salimov's close friend and ally is general Ghaffor Mirzoev, the head of Rahmon's presidential guard. However, Mirzoev has been profiting from Salimov's absences in Ankara to increase his own influence. +++

“Two brutal warlords are the brothers Rizvon and Bahrom Sodirov. They were previously aligned with the Islamic opposition, and Rizvon was at one time commander in chief of the opposition forces. They changed loyalties after Rizvon was expelled for brutally executing some of his own commanders and for torturing civilians. The Sodirovs were most recently in the news through Bahrom's kidnapping last month of 16 people, including military observers and Russian journalists. The hostages were eventually released in exchange for the transportation from Afghanistan by helicopter of a contingent of his fighters. Now Bahrom's group is an outcast from both sides. The Sodirovs and the other powerful warlords are seen as wanting to retain continuing power and influence even in the event of a full peace settlement between the government and Islamic opposition.” +++

Warlords and Drug Trafficking in Tajikistan

Much of the drug trade in Tajikistan in the 1990s and early 2000s is believed to have been controlled by warlords, many of them connected with government officials and members of the Tajik and Russia military. The drug trade was the primary source of revenues for their operations. Without this money the couldn’t pay their militiamen and give bribes and would lose their power. During the civil war, anti-government forces made money from the drug trade.

The number of new Mercedes and Jaguars on the streets of Dushanbe and fancy villas in the suburbs offers evidence of the wealth and pervasiveness of the drug trade One Tajik newspaper editor told the Los Angeles Times, “If someone’s got a good house or a good car that means he’s a bandit, dealing narcotics. Because you can’t buy a car on $2 a month.”

According to Sensi Seeds: Trafficking of cannabis and heroin is largely controlled by organisations well-versed in conflict, and throughout the region, various ‘drug warlords’ have battled for supremacy over recent decades. As is often the case in regions subject to prolonged violence, the black market has become an important source of funding to various military groups. Afghanistan’s Mujahedeen and Taliban, Russian border forces, the Tajik opposition, and members of the Tajik government itself have been accused of having links to trafficking operations. [Source: Sesheta, October 15, 2014, Sensi Seeds sensiseeds.com *-*]

According to the United Nations: “In Tajikistan, the drug market is divided between five major loosely grouped factions formed primarily around clan-based ties and coinciding roughly with the country’s provinces, or oblasts. One network is composed of members of the Leninobod (or Khojand) clan, particularly influential in the northern part of the country and the most powerful Tajik clan before the collapse of the USSR. The second faction consists of members of the Kuliab clan in the central region within Khatlon province. During the early years of independence and into the civil war, the Kuliab clan acted both as a conservative source of opposition to the communist leadership in Khojand and an ally against the Islamist and democratic opposition. This clan emerged as the most powerful after the Tajik civil war and is currently considered to be the most influential. Crucially, its influence is strongest in Dushanbe, a major opiate consolidation and forwarding area. [Source: “Opiate Flows Through Northern Afghanistan and Central Asia”, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Regional Office for Central Asia, May 2012 |*|]

“The third faction, the Kurgan-Tyube clan, identified with the region of the same name with Khatlon province, is more or less integrated with the Kuliab faction. The fourth faction, the Garm (or Kataregin) clan is based in south-eastern and central Tajikistan (Gorno-Badakhshan), one of the strongholds of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), which was composed of the Islamic Renaissance Party and other Islamism opposition groups.A fifth faction, the Pamiri, is identified primarily with the Pamir ethnic group of the same name, notably the Ismailis. These various clans fought both alongside each other and against one another during the civil war and members are now competing for shares of a drug market controlled mostly by members of the Kuliab and Leninobad clans.” |*|

Rivalries Between Drug-Trafficking Warlords in Tajikistan

The United Nations reported: “In differentiating between groups on a regional level, there are clear rivalries with groups based in Khatlon and northern Tajikistan and again with those in Gorno-Badakhshan. Such rivalries over the drug trade are a reflection of the divisions dating back to the civil war and before that to Soviet times. In the current situation, actual confrontation between groups in Tajikistan seems remarkably rare given the violent past. This is, in many other settings, an indication of consolidation and shared control by a few networks. [Source: “Opiate Flows Through Northern Afghanistan and Central Asia”, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Regional Office for Central Asia, May 2012 |*|]

According to one United Nations official, the entire Tajik-Afghan border is effectively divided between clans. Their level of control is such that clans permeate the power structures of the state. Thus, one clan with political power can be overrepresented in key ministries with law enforcement responsibilities. At the individual level, criminal group leadership is still dominated by former warlords active in the civil war. Many of these joined the political process in the 1990s and many continue to be reliant on illicit economies. These mid-level operators are involved in the drug trade either directly or through taxation, with some overseeing specific territories. This was the case in GBAO, for two ethnic Pamiri groups led by former commanders. Both groups have approximately 20-40 members, operate in Khorog and have international links with groups in Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. Indicative of their paramilitary origins in the civil war, these types of groups are highly organized with a single leader, a clearly defined hierarchy and a strong system of internal discipline. |*|

An interesting distinction is the degree to which organized crime groups in Central Asia have connections to Afghanistan. A common language and the relative ease of crossing the Tajik-Afghan border, when compared to the Uzbek and Turkmen networks, means that some Tajik groups access Afghan production directly. In this context, it is possible that integrated Afghan-Tajik groups have emerged, although so far these seem to consist only of mid to small-scale operations. The Langariev group, a now defunct Tajik trafficking organization led by former field commanders, had 20 per cent of its membership composed of Afghans. Similarly, although the responsibility of most Afghan groups stops at the Afghanistan-Central Asia border, there are increasing drugrelated arrests of Afghan nationals in Tajikistan (and Uzbekistan) There have also been drug-related arrests of Afghans in Uzbekistan and even further afield in Kazakhstan. Although linguistic and cultural limitations are mitigating factors, it may be justified to think that Afghans will eventually attempt to do away with the middleman and traffic opiates directly into the Russian Federation. |*|

Trafficking between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan is reportedly controlled by mixed TajikUzbek networks, as both ethnic groups span the border on both sides. Logistic operators for these groups appear to be based in the border areas of each country and function by leveraging close family ties. These groups are facing restrictions owing to political tensions on the Tajik-Uzbek border and the concentration of Uzbek agencies along its length. There is little information on the groups controlling the trade inside Uzbekistan. Law enforcement agencies estimated that in 2009 about 20 networks were active in trafficking heroin through the country, and involved Uzbek nationals as well as members of other Central Asian nationalities. For example, the leader of a major regional organization trafficking opiates into the Russian Federation was a Tajik citizen residing in Uzbekistan. |*|

Lawlessness in Gorno-Badakhshan

Sharing a long border with Afghanistan, Gorno-Badakhshan lies along a well-known drug-trafficking route. Zarifmo Aslamshoyeva of CNN wrote: “ Tensions remain high between the Tajik government in Dushanbe and the warlords-- so-called Komandos -- of Gorno-Badakshan, who are members of the Pamiri ethnic minority. The region was a stronghold of rebels during the civil war, which claimed thousands of lives. The war divided people along ethnic and regional lines, and the Pamiri largely sided with the opposition.” [Source: Zarifmo Aslamshoyeva, CNN, August 14, 2012]

In July 2012, Tajikistan's government launched an operation against an illegal armed group after a group of unidentified people stopped the car of Maj. Gen. Abdullo Nazarov — head of the regional branch of the State Committee on National Security, which is a successor to the Soviet KGB— near Khorog and stabbed him to death. Igor Rotar of the Jamestown Foundation wrote: “The special operation was initiated in reaction to the incident on July 21 when regional security chief General Abdullo Nazarov was pulled from his car, allegedly by rebel fighters, and stabbed to death as he was returning to Khorog from the Ishkashim area to the South. Tajik government helicopter gunships were strafing Khorog, the capital of the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomy (southeast Tajikistan). Twelve government personnel were killed and twenty-three injured in the day's fighting, according to officials. Government forces detained 40 rebels, including eight Afghan citizens, and killed 30 others, he said, adding that there have been no civilian casualties. Officials blamed the killing of General Nazarov on Tolib Ayombekov, another former rebel supporter who is now Ishkashim's border-police commander.[Source: Igor Rotar, Jamestown Foundation, Publication: Volume: 3 Issue: 7. July 30, 2012 <=>]

“The Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province is a special region of Tajikistan. Located in the Pamir Mountains, it makes up 45 percent of the land area of the country but only 3 percent (218,000) of the population. Pamir ethnic groups essentially differ from Tajiks. There are several dialects of the Pamir language and almost all Pamir people adhere to the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam. Pamiri people are not strong believers. There are no Islamic radicals among them. The Pamiris have close linguistic, cultural and religious ties with the people in the Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan. <=>

“During the civil war in Tajikistan (1992-97), the Pamiris supported the opposition. But due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of the Pamirs (the region is connected with other parts of Tajikistan by only one road), the government troops could not reach Gorno-Badakshan. So, this war is the first conflict to occur in Pamirs in the post-Soviet era. Securing a better grip on the border region could enhance Tajikistan’s ability to cash in on the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan.

“Tension has always existed between the weak government of Tajikistan that lacks popular support, and the isolated Badaskhshan Province that has always resisted the control of the central government. At the end of the civil war in 1997 many local militant leaders were given positions in their localities, wielding them political and economic power. The central government has since been working to remove these figures from their positions to regain power. <=>

“Corresponding with the existing tension, there has been a constant threat of ethnic cleansing in the Pamir which remains high. As Nezavisimaya Gazeta recently noted, Tajik authorities have used Nazarov’s murder as an excuse to cleanse the Pamirs of former field-commanders from the Tajik opposition. According to the newspaper, the rumors that one may expect a special operation in Pamir against the remaining so-called opposition groups (the participants of the fight against the government during the civil war, 1992-1997), appeared on July 3, when the Defense Ministry of Tajikistan started military exercises "Hafiz-2012 in a neighborhood of Khorog. <=>

“Since the Pamir is connected with the other regions of Tajikistan only by one road passing through the remote, hard-to-reach, mountainous region, Pamir fighters can easily block it and cut off the region from Tajikistan. The situation is also complicated by the fact that the militants may hope for the help from Afghan Ismailis. According to the Ferghana news agency, now on the Afghan side of the mountain Badakhshan, one may watch groups of about 200 fighters who are ready to help their co-religionists in the Tajik Pamir. <=>

“Many experts on Tajikistan do not believe that a real large-scale war will begin in Pamir. “Most panic articles about the situation in Pamir were published by Russian media,” a famous Tajik political scientist and journalist Hairullo Mirsaidov told EDM on July 25. “Now, the Kremlin and Dushanbe are discussing the future of Russian military bases in Tajikistan and for Moscow, it is profitable to make Emomali Rahmon scared. The president of Tajikistan is planning to visit Khorog in August. He will take a lot of money and gifts. He will be able to make an agreement with the Pamir elite, and as to small military groups, they will be destroyed without a hesitation.”

Alyosha the Hunchback

Igor Rotar of the Jamestown Foundation wrote: “In 1993, Pamir fighters elected Abdumalon Ayombekov, alias Alyosha the Hunchback. Abdumalon as the self-defense force commander of Pamir. De-facto, Abdumalon became the leader of Gorno-Badahshan. The author first met Abdumalon in 1993 when he covered the Tajik civil war. Abdumalon’s height was not more than 160 cm, and on his back, one could see a huge hump. It was quite ironic that while this man appeared disabled, all Pamir militants unquestionably obeyed him. [Source: Igor Rotar, Jamestown Foundation, Publication: Volume: 3 Issue: 7. July 30, 2012 <=>]

“During a private conversation with the author, Abdulamon did not deny his involvement in drug smuggling. He explained that he spent the smuggling money to help Pamiris. “Pamir people would be hungry without my money” he said. He also claimed that his main goal was to prevent government troops consisting of natives from the Kulyab region (Southern Tajikistan) from entering the Pamir. "If Kuliabis invade Pamir, then they will start ethnic cleansing. My task is not to let them do this," Abdulamon told the author. Abdulamon was killed in 1993 when a mine set by unknown individuals exploded in his office.” <=>

Tolib Ayombekov: Tajikistan's Drug-Trafficking Warlord

Igor Rotar of the Jamestown Foundation wrote: “Many Tajik experts are of the opinion that the murder of General Nazarov is not politically motivated but is clearly a criminal case. Moreover, these experts believe that Abdullo Nazarov and Tolib Ayombekov actually were competitors in drug smuggling. However, there is a danger that this criminal conflict might transform into an interregional confrontation. General Abdullo Nazarov was a Sunni Muslim from the Khatlon province in southern Tajikistan and Tolib is a Pamir Ismaili.” [Source: Igor Rotar, Jamestown Foundation, Publication: Volume: 3 Issue: 7. July 30, 2012 <=>]

“Tolib was little-known in Tajikistan before the murder of General Nazarov. Tolib is 47 years old. He had four sons and one daughter. One of his sons was killed during the fighting in Gorno-Badahshan during the civil war in Tajikistan (1992-1997). Tolib was a field commander of the Tajik opposition but there is no information about his participating in any battle during the civil war. <=>

“Tolib was better known as the younger brother of a famous Pamir warlord and drug-dealer, Abdumalon Ayombekov. After the end of the civil war, the Tajik government appointed Tolib as a deputy of the head of the Ishkashim border patrol unit. Talib got this position only as a result of his brother’s influence. According to a source in the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the president of Tajikistan allowed Tolib to conduct “free business” (smuggling drugs and tobacco) under the condition that he did not interfere in politics (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 24). Tolib has denied accusations that he is responsible for the murder of Nazarov and supporters have claimed that the attack was orchestrated by the government. <=>

Eurasia.net reported: As chief of the Ishkashim border unit, Ayombekov had been in government service since 2008, and, before that, enjoyed a stint as a battalion commander, thanks to the peace settlement that ended the Tajik Civil War and required the central government to give 30 percent of governmental posts to former opposition commanders like Ayombekov. “I’ve been working for the government for 16 years,” he said. [Source: Eurasia.net. October 24, 2012 |+|]

More Than 40 Killed in Capturing Tolib Ayombekov

In August 2012, Tolib Ayombekov surrendered to Tajik authorities, ending a three-week standoff that beginas an effort to capture him. Zarifmo Aslamshoyeva of CNN wrote: In a statement aired on Badakhshan TV, Ayombekov said he turned himself in to end the violence in Khorog, Pamir -- the capital of Gorno-Badakshan. More than 40 people were killed and many residents were displaced in recent fighting. Also communications with the outside world have been virtually severed during the fighting between Ayombekov's forces and government troops.” [Source: Zarifmo Aslamshoyeva, CNN, August 14, 2012 /*/]

“The government has accused Ayombekov's fighters in the July killing of Maj. Gen. Abdullo Nazarov. A spokesman for the government in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe said the killing was "the last straw." He said the warlords were troublemakers. In his last public appearance before he went into hiding in late July, Ayombekov told reporters that Nazarov's security detail had failed to protect him. It was not clear what he meant by that. Khorog residents said they had received no warning of the fighting that began three weeks ago. The official from the Badakhshan administration said residents told him they were not siding with anyone -- they just wanted safe passage out of Pamir.” /*/

Eurasia.net reported: “Ayombekov -- along with three other warlords from Gorno-Badakhshan -- was accused of arranging the murder of the regional intelligence chief, Gen. Abdullo Nazarov. On July 24, claiming Ayombekov and his confederates refused to surrender, the government opened an offensive in Khorog with upwards of 2,000 troops. At least 17 government soldiers, 30 suspected criminals, and one civilian died in the fighting. Ayombekov, who was wounded in his thigh, tells a different story – a story he says he wanted to share earlier, but couldn’t because the government had blocked cell phone and Internet connections with the region. According to Ayombekov, after Gen. Nazarov’s death, authorities from the Interior Ministry began demanding that he turn over his supporters, suspects in the murder. Each time he complied, authorities asked for more. [Source: Eurasia.net. October 24, 2012 |+|]

“By 10 p.m. [the night before the assault] the government was asking for 15 guys, including me,” he said. Ayombekov says he agreed to lead the group to Dushanbe and go through the necessary procedures. “But then the government told me they only wanted me to send two guys at a time,” said Ayombekov. “They delayed and delayed, then suddenly attacked.” The Khorog offensive was never about Nazarov’s murder, contended Ayombekov. “And I never resisted arrest. They just wanted a target.” Political analysts suspect the government’s response to the murder was a masked attempt at consolidating authority over a mountainous region that has remained largely beyond central control since Tajikistan gained independence following the 1991 Soviet collapse.” |+|

“Ceasefire negotiations in the days after the July 24 fighting in and around Khorog included a disarmament drive, with the government saying it collected hundreds of small and medium arms. Ayombekov surrendered himself to authorities on August 12. “But if they wanted me and my brother, why didn’t they just come and arrest us?” he said. “After the offensive I was wounded and at home, and the government knew this. We never resisted arrest.” |+|

“Ten days after Ayombekov turned himself in, Imomnazar Imomnazarov, another of the wanted warlords, was murdered at home in the middle of the night. He was a well-known community leader who had been wheelchair-bound since taking a bullet in the spine during the civil war. Ayombekov blamed the government for Imomnazarov’s death. In the days following Imomnazarov’s death thousands of people protested in Khorog’s main square, demanding the removal of government troops from the region. The wish was gradually granted over the next month, but the Drug Control Agency has recently deployed more troops to Gorno-Badakhshan. Around Khorog -- a town of some 20,000 -- fresh plaster has been applied to smooth over bullet pockmarks on homes, stores and bus stops. In areas of heavy fighting, the burnt-out shells of houses sit vacant as reminders of the fragility of peace.” |+|

Tolib Ayombekov Walks Around as Free Man After Capture

Although under house arrest, Tolib Ayombekov was able to freely roam around his hometown of Khorog.Eurasia.net reported: Since surrendering to authorities, Tolib Ayombekov “has lived in relative comfort at home in Khorog, surrounded by supporters and able to move freely about town in a white Mercedes sedan.” Though he is accused of involvement in the murder of Nazarov, “officials in Dushanbe are proceeding cautiously in their prosecution of Ayombekov. [Source: Eurasia.net. October 24, 2012 |+|]

“Asked about what the future holds for him, he expressed doubt that he will ever face trial. Instead, he believes some sort of fatal accident will befall him. The end could be quick and unexpected, even if anticipated. “I know they will do it, so I just live for Allah and pray,” said the popular warlord, who met EurasiaNet.org at a Khorog community center on a recent evening to discuss the violence between local armed groups and government security forces in July. The clashes marked some of the most intense fighting in Tajikistan since the end of the 1992-97 Civil War.|+|

“Just because he seems resigned to being a marked man doesn’t mean Ayombekov isn’t taking security precautions. As he spoke, eight of Ayombekov’s “guys” loitered in the street outside, most of them dressed like their leader in immaculate Adidas tracksuits and baseball caps. “We have 10 to 20 guys in each street at night,” Ayombekov said. “They’re volunteering, they weren’t asked to [protect me].” |+|

Ayombekov “is technically under house arrest in Khorog, charged with human trafficking, drug smuggling, trading in contraband cigarettes, banditry, and leading an illegal armed group. When queried about the case against him, Ayombekov doesn’t deny any of the charges. Instead he responds by asking a simple, pointed question of his own: “why did the government trust me to guard the border, if I was doing all these things?” |+|

“During his talk with EurasiaNet.org, Ayombekov made a controversial claim: in July, he said, officials in Dushanbe sent him to Germany to participate in a 10-day seminar on military tactics. His claim could not be independently verified, and on October 24, an Interior Ministry representative denied it. The German Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, did not respond to repeated requests for comment. “ |+|

“Despite the house arrest, Ayombekov moves around Khorog, but he complains he’s being denied medical treatment. “They still won’t let me into the hospital,” said Ayombekov, who’s been treating the bullet wound at home. Ayombekov indicates he will continue to keep a low profile. “I’m afraid I could be downtown and something might happen again, and they’ll blame me,” he said. “The whole community is scared. The atmosphere here is worse than during the civil war. Not even young children or old men are forgiving the central government.” |+|

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, U.S. government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated April 2016

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