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Tajikistan: Police Name Change Can’t Hide Image Problem

Tajikistan’s plan to rebrand its police force will include dropping its Soviet-era moniker - militsia. (Photo: David Trilling)

Following Russia’s lead, Tajikistan’s main law-enforcement agency will soon drop its Soviet-era moniker, militsia, and refashion itself as the politsia. Beyond the name change, though, real reform is lacking, human rights advocates in Dushanbe say.

Judging by official statistics, featuring low street-crime rates, Tajik citizens on the surface have reason to feel satisfied with the work of the militsia/politsia. But the statistics only tell a small part of the story. Corruption – and the resulting public resentment – is commonly acknowledged as widespread. “If I have a problem, the police are the last place I would go,” said a Dushanbe resident who called himself Dilshod.

Echoing a widely held feeling, Dilshod added: “The police protect the rich and defend organized crime. … Most Tajiks do not trust them.” Tajikistan ranked 154 out of 178 countries surveyed in the latest Corruption Perceptions Index compiled by Transparency International, a watchdog group.

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Tajikistan: Police Name Change Can’t Hide Image Problem

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