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Tajikistan Wages War on Dual-Citizenship Holders

Tajikistan’s National Bank has fired 30 employees for possessing dual citizenship.

Faraj news website cited unnamed sources as saying the National Bank had previously set out requirements to staff with second passports to either give up their other citizenship or quit. Russia is the only country with which Tajikistan has a dual citizenship treaty.

Another newspaper, Tajikistan, reported that the city prosecutor for Istaravshan, Firdavs Djahongiri, has also been fired after being found to be in possession of Russian citizenship.

The effort to bar citizens of foreign countries from working in government bodies has been in motion since 2014. In December that year, parliament adopted a law enforcing that rule on the diplomatic corps. The same rule is in place for employees of security bodies. On June 6, lawmakers began considering a proposal to extend the rule to the police.

Proponents of this rule argue that it is being brought in to protect national interests. It is not known if Dushanbe was somehow reacting to developments in Ukraine, whose security structures and other state bodies, have historically been profoundly infiltrated by Russian personnel.

In April, parliament adopted legislation envisioning fines of between 1,000 somoni ($117) and 1,500 somoni for state employees failing to declare a second citizenship.  

Under the dual citizenship agreement reached between Tajikistan and Russia in 1996 “each nation recognizes its citizens’ entitlement to obtain citizenship of a second country without being required to relinquish their original citizenship.”

In 2014, Russia ushered in a streamlined citizenship process for people that had lived in the country for more than five years, citizens of former Soviet republics, fluent speakers of Russian and sought-after specialists that had lived in Russia for more than three years. That precipitated a barrage of requests from citizens of Tajikistan.

RFE/RL’s Tajik service estimates that anywhere between 300,000 and 500,000 Tajiks have received Russian citizenship over the past two decades.

The greatest clamor for Russian passports has been reported among those working in security structures. Laws regulating Russian pensions for military personnel envision a simplified procedure for granting retirement benefits for citizens of former Soviet republics. Russian military pensions can range anywhere from $400 and upwards — a relative bounty compared to the $120-300 afforded to Tajik veterans.

The difference in civilian pensions is similarly yawning.

Incidentally, as is sadly typical for Tajikistan, some dual citizenship holders are more equal than others. Beg Zukhurov, the country’s de facto censor-in-chief and head of the communications agency, a relative of President Emomali Rahmon by marriage, not only holds Russian citizenship but is also given to boasting about it in interviews. No chance he will be losing his job, however.

Tajikistan Wages War on Dual-Citizenship Holders

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