DUSHANBE -- Salmon Langariev, a legendary former commander of the People's Front militia that brought Tajik President Emomali Rahmon to power in 1992, has died in the southern city of Kulob at the age of 84, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
Langariev, also known as "Grandfather Salmon," was a retired prison guard who joined the military at the start of Tajikistan's 1992 civil war.
His late eldest son, Langari, a former police officer, was one of the main commanders of the People's Front that fought the Islamic opposition during the war.
Langari Langariev is similarly regarded as having played a key role in bringing the current Tajik leadership to power. He died of combat wounds in Khujand in 1993.
Another son, General Faizali Langariev, holds a senior post within Tajikistan's Defense Ministry.
A third son, Colonel Bakhtiyor Langariev, was the head of the Tajik Interior Ministry's special forces.
In May 2008, the Tajik Security Ministry arrested Salmon Langariev's youngest son
, Suhrob, after a 16-hour gun battle at his home in Kulob that ended only when Salmon Langariev persuaded his son to lay down his weapons. Suhrob Langariev was subsequently charged with drug smuggling and arms possession.
Bakhtiyor Langariev fled Tajikistan after Suhrob's arrest. His current whereabouts are unknown.
Salmon Langariev told RFE/RL's Tajik Service in a recent interview that he wanted to meet with President Rahmon and explain that his children are not traitors. He said he wanted a guarantee from Rahmon that his son Bakhtiyor would be safe if he returned to Tajikistan.