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Tajikistan: State Media Forced to Always Call President By Unwieldy Title

State media in Tajikistan are under strict instructions to start always referring to President Emomali Rahmon by his full title: The Founder of Peace and National Unity — Leader of the Nation.

A worker for a state media told RFE/RL’s Tajik service, Radio Ozodi, that the new rule has been in force as of last week.

“Previously, we were permitted to use the abbreviated form — Leader of the Nation — instead of the long form: The Founder of Peace and National Unity — Leader of the Nation,” the source told Radio Ozodi.

Farrukh Ziyoyev, director of the Tajikistan state radio broadcaster, said that this requirement was in line with the December 2015 law titled, fittingly enough, “The Founder of Peace and National Unity — Leader of the Nation.” The legislation also envisions criminal sanctions for any deemed to be insulting the president.

Earlier this month, independent news website Akhbor reported that a man in northern Tajikistan was arrested and potentially faces several years in jail for being slightly disrespectful to the Rahmon, the Founder of Peace and National Unity — Leader of the Nation.

“In public view, he took a picture of Rahmon down from the wall, he threw it to the ground and said: ‘You have everything, you have a good life, and me, I have nothing with which to continue my life,’” an unnamed source familiar with the case was quoted as telling Akhbor.

In truth, the requirement to use the full title has been enforced before. Speakers at public conferences in government venues can fully expect to be interrupted if they refer to Rahmon by his name alone, instead of calling him the Founder of Peace and National Unity — Leader of the Nation. Newsreaders have also long been accustomed to unfurling the phrase repeatedly throughout bulletins, which invariably make repeated references to Rahmon,  the Founder of Peace and National Unity — Leader of the Nation.

Rahmon, the Founder of Peace and National Unity — Leader of the Nation, is not the first to enforce such an unwieldy title for himself.

The most memorable precedent in recent history may be that set by the ruthless Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, who only half in jest went by the self-styled designation: “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.”

But while Amin is believed by many to have intended his outlandish public persona to serve as distraction from the most unsavory aspects of his rule, Rahmon, the Founder of Peace and National Unity — Leader of the Nation, appears deadly serious about his image. And nothing surely cultivates gravitas and credibility better than passing a law requiring officials to always refer to you as the Founder of Peace and National Unity — Leader of the Nation.

Tajikistan: State Media Forced to Always Call President By Unwieldy Title

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