DUSHANBE -- Representatives of the Congress of Bukharan Jews of the United States and Canada will be observers at Tajikistan's upcoming parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
Tajik Central Election Commission (CEC) Chairman Mirzoali Boltuev told RFE/RL that the organization officially requested that it be allowed to send officials to observe the February 28 elections.
The term Bukharan Jews comes from the former Central Asian emirate of Bukhara, which once had a large Jewish community. Bukharan Jews speak a Persian dialect and used to live mainly in what today is Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the vast majority of Bukharan Jews have immigrated to Australia, Europe, Canada, Israel, and the United States.
The CEC said about 500 international observers -- including from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the Commonwealth of Independent States -- will be in Tajikistan to monitor the elections.
Some 250 candidates are running for the 63 seats in the Majlisi Namoyandagon, the lower chamber of parliament. The overwhelming majority of seats in parliament are currently occupied by the ruling People's Democratic Party led by Tajik President Emomali Rahmon.