Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has signed into law a bill that gives him the title "Leader of the Nation" and grants him lifelong immunity from prosecution.
The bill, passed unanimously by the upper and lower houses of the parliament earlier this month, officially designates Rahmon as "the founder of peace and national unity of Tajikistan" and states that he cannot be prosecuted for anything he has done while in office.
The bill also protects relatives of the authoritarian Rahmon, 63, a former collective farm chief who has been in power in Tajikistan since the year after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Members of his family and their property will enjoy immunity.
The bill has drawn sharp criticism from opponents and activists who called it a new step away from democracy.