DUSHANBE -- Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has promoted or awarded medals to 280 army and security services commanders and officers, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
The head of the State Committee for National Security and one of his deputies, the commander of the National Guard, the first deputy interior minister and the head of the Defense Department and Legal Education office of the presidential administration were promoted on July 30 to the rank of lieutenant general while eight others received the rank of major general.
The promotions and awards were pegged to the upcoming 20th anniversary of Tajikistan's independence on September 9.
Tajik Defense Ministry spokesman Faridun Muhammadaliev said today that all the officers deserved their decorations or promotions.
But former Deputy Defense Minister General Abdullo Habibov told RFE/RL the rank of general should be given with extreme care. Habibov recalled that under the Soviet Union, Tajikistan only ever had a couple of generals and everyone knew who they were and respected them.
Over the past two decades, and especially during and after the 1992-97 civil war, dozens of officers and commanders of paramilitary groups were promoted to the rank of general.
Tajikistan today has dozens of serving or retired generals. There is even a joke going around: "thank God Tajikistan has no sea coast, otherwise we would have dozens of admirals, too."
Others point out that at least one lieutenant general -- Ghaffor Mirzoev, former head of the Presidential Guard and counternarcotics agency -- and three major generals are currently serving long prison terms for crimes.
Rahmon last year also fired the head of the State Committee for National Security and his deputies for incompetence following the August escape of 25 high-profile inmates from a detention center.