Reports are now slowly filtering out in Tajikistan about the imminent trial of a group of anti-corruption agency officials arrested earlier this year.
Speaking at a press conference on July 17, the head of the Supreme Court, Shermukhammad Shohiyon said 13 people are under investigation on suspicion of bringing their agency into disrepute. Ten are former employees of the anti-corruption agency, while three others belong to other bodies, he said. Among those named by Shohiyon were the former deputy head of the corruption-fighting agency Davlatbek Hairzoda and the head of the investigative department, Firuz Holmurodzoda.
RFE/RL’s Tajik service, Radio Ozodi, has reported that the suspects are facing charges of embezzlement and bribery, although Shohiyon made no reference to those details.
The Agency for State Financial Control and Combating Corruption, to use its full title, has been involved in some very high-profile cases aimed at political opponents of President Emomali Rahmon — such as Umarali Quvvatov and Zaid Saidov — so journalists quizzed Shohiyon on whether those investigations were likely to be revisited. Not a chance, said Shohiyon.
“All the cases administered by the defendants were also considered by the General Prosecutor’s Office and the Supreme Court. Guilt was proven at all levels, so there is no need to reopen those cases,” he said,
The chatter is that all the people now going on trial are in various ways linked to a close associate of the ruling family, the chairman of the customs service, Abdufattoh Goib. The fate of this veteran official is also intimately linked to that of Rahmon’s son, Rustam Emomali, who led the customs service before Goib took over in 2015. Prior to taking up that job, Goib ran the anti-corruption agency, which Emomali took over in 2015 in a neat job swap.
An even cozier link is through Goib’s son, Shokhrukh Saidov, who is reputed to be Emomali’s dearest friend.
But Goib, speaking at the same press conference, denied all speculation he is linked to the officials in the dock.
“Just because we worked together, it doesn’t mean they are my staff. If they committed any crimes, they must answer before the law,” he said.
Goib also rejected another line of grapevine tittle-tattle, which had it that he too had been questioned as part of the same investigations against the anti-corruption officials.
Even the little that is known about this situation is revealing a great deal about the fragile nature of the elite arrangements that keep Tajikistan’s from reeling into complete political bedlam. The trial, which is already being heard at the level of the Supreme Court for reasons unclear, will be held behind closed door on dates to be determined, but observers will monitors developments closely for clues about where the country may be headed.