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Ahead Of Presidential Vote, Two Tajik Families Talk About The Issues

Tajik families around the country are considering various issues ahead of the presidential election scheduled for November 6. (file photo)
Tajik families around the country are considering various issues ahead of the presidential election scheduled for November 6. (file photo)
With the outcome all but certain in Tajikistan's upcoming presidential election, RFE/RL spoke to members of two typical families -- one from an urban and the other from a rural background -- to ask what issues they care about most.

NURJONOV FAMILY (based in Dushanbe)

Nizom Nurjonov, 90, grandfather
Voting for Rahmon

"I don't know any of the candidates apart from the president. They appear on television these days, but I have never heard of them before. Maybe they are good people too, but I don't know them. Perhaps it would be too great a risk to bring in an unknown quantity.

"Today, all of the emphasis is on improving industry and the farming sector. I want the president to pay more attention to cultural issues, too. We have many theaters in Dushanbe and the provinces, but the buildings have not been renovated for many years. The cultural sphere should not be neglected like this. Culture is as important as the other sectors."

Parvin Hoshimova, 78, grandmother
Not Voting
Parvin Hoshimova
Parvin Hoshimova

"My husband and I discussed the election issue several times, and we were telling each other that of the all candidates the incumbent is the only viable choice Tajikistan has today. The only realistic expectation we can have is peace.

"Pensions are very low. I retired after working for 50 years. I receive $70 a month. It's not enough for anything. I want the president to construct fewer administrative buildings and invest some of that money into social security."

Manisha Nurjonova, 46, daughter and housewife
Voting for Rahmon

"I am concerned about things that are happening around us, in the name of Islam, that have nothing to do with religion. [Islamic Renaissance Party head Muhiddin] Kabiri and his party do nothing when young girls are being forced to wear the hijab, or into early marriages, and the government also isn't doing enough to stop this.

"In an ideal world, I would vote for a candidate who is younger and broadly educated, with an excellent knowledge of economics, politics, and social and cultural issues. But in the reality we live in the best option would be if President Rahmon entirely reshuffled his cabinet and brought in young, talented, and capable people with new ideas. The current cabinet has smeared the president's image. People are not blind to see this."

Farzona Rahmonova, 26, granddaughter and doctor
Voting for Rahmon
Farzona Rahmonova
Farzona Rahmonova

"I want better opportunities for young people. I am not planning on leaving the country, unlike many other people my age. I hope our country will have better living standards and a better health-care system.

"I will vote for the incumbent. In my mind, I associate Rahmon's name with peace. I don't want to experience ever again the civil war I witnessed as a child."

GHAFUROV FAMILY (Villagers From Northern Sughd Province)

Gulru Ghafurova, 47, mother and cultural center employee
Voting for Rahmon

"Just offering the freedom to work is not enough. [The president] has to create jobs for women, especially in villages. And salaries should increase. The salaries we get today are miserably low.

"My dream is that all of our children -- the younger generation -- get the opportunity to study at colleges and universities, to learn a profession. Most importantly, they should be able to get jobs in their profession without having to work at foreign construction sites and farms."

"I am not happy with the current health-care system.... One of things I miss about the Soviet era is free health care. Now, good hospitals and doctors in Tajikistan exist only in the capital, Dushanbe."

Dilovar Ghafurov, 26, son and bank worker
Not Voting

"All I want is well-paid jobs and the opportunity to travel abroad. I am not interested in politics and individual politicians. Whichever politician makes my life better, that person is welcome to come to power."

Muhiba Ghafurova, 22, daughter-in-law and housewife
Voting for Rahmon

"I was born and grew up while Rahmon was in power. I don't know anyone else. It's hard for me to imagine things any other way.

"I am not sure what kind of change I would want. How can you dream of something you don't know? I haven't traveled abroad to see other [political] systems."

Abdullo-jon, 45, cousin and migrant worker
Voting for Rahmon

"My biggest problem is having to work in Russia. I have a university diploma and I grew up dreaming I would be a famous poet and writer. I won several children's awards for poetry. Look where I ended up. I work at a construction site and it is demoralizing.

"We should not become a nation of migrant workers. Why not use such a big workforce in Tajikistan? We are building homes, palaces, roads, and factories in Russia. Why not build them in Tajikistan?"

Karim, 38, cousin and migrant worker
Keeping His Vote Secret

"Obviously, Rahmon will be reelected. He should have two or three priorities: creating jobs, providing electricity, and good health care.

"The brain-drain should stop. Most importantly, doctors should be provided with better salaries so they stay and work in Tajikistan. Now our best doctors are leaving."

Interviews conducted by RFE/RL correspondent Farangis Najibullah from Prague, and Tajik journalist Firuz Barot in Dushanbe
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    Farangis Najibullah

    Farangis Najibullah is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL who has reported on a wide range of topics from Central Asia, including the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the region. She has extensively covered efforts by Central Asian states to repatriate and reintegrate their citizens who joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

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