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Tajikistan: President Seizes on Audiobook Fad

The president of Tajikistan appears to be seizing on the audiobook fad now proving such a boon to the publishing industry by requiring national broadcasters to read out his written works on the air.

Asia-Plus newspaper this week cited the head of state-run Tajikistan radio station, Farruh Ziyoyev, as saying that a team of actors and announcers are currently busy creating audio materials from President Emomali Rahmon’s many writings.

These lengthy programs will, in the words of their creators, help enhance the sense of patriotism in every Tajik. Audiobooks will serve the interests of elderly and blind people thus far deprived the pleasure of reading Rahmon’s oeuvre, they also say. 

Readings of two books — the classic “Tajiks in the Mirror of History” (also available in English) and “The Language of a Nation — The Essence of a Nation” — have already been recorded and broadcast. The recordings have been placed into Tajikistan’s “Golden Fund” — a sort of notional receptacle of cultural touchstones. 

It isn’t just works by Rahmon that will be turned into audiobooks. Books about him are to get the same treatment too. 

RFE/RL’s Tajik service, Radio Ozodi, has noted that the order to air the audiobooks has been extended to private radio stations, who are obliged to comply in order to avoid losing their operating licenses. These patriotic slots can last anywhere between 30 minutes and 10 hours.

Rahmon has to date had 20 books written in his name (it is generally assumed many, most or even all of them are ghostwritten). Tajiks in the Mirror of History is the most famous of these outpourings and is even the subject one-ton monument in the town of Hisor, around 15 kilometers west of the capital, Dushanbe.

Craven sycophancy toward Rahmon is very much the order of the day in Tajikistan. 

Since 2016, November 16 has been ordained President’s Day — a holiday devoted entirely to celebrating Rahmon. Earlier this year, Soviet-founded provincial newspaper “Hakikati Shahrinav” (The Truth of Shahrinav) was renamed “The Grace of the Leader” in what its chief editor insisted was an effort to keep in step with the times. 

Entire CDs jam-packed with songs of praise to the president — in which he variously referred to as “the buttress of Tajikistan,” “the liberator of the nation,” and “the sun of happiness” — are widely available.

There is even talk of issuing 1,000 somoni ($113) banknotes bearing the image of Rahmon. The 500 somoni bill is the currently the highest value banknote in circulation. 

This move has not yet come to pass, despite the regular publication of letters from would-be members of the public thirsting for such a tribute. Statues to Rahmon too have yet to appear, although this may only be a matter of time.

Tajikistan: President Seizes on Audiobook Fad

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