US new media campaign in Tajikistan poses risk for president Rahmon

The United States are to start a new media campaign in Tajikistan that aims to prevent corruption and other violations by Tajik authorities.  Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the foundation «Eurasia of the Central Asia- Tajikistan» launched a series of training programs for local journalists earlier this years. The program allows professional journalists to learn about latest search engine technologies and media promotion tools to report leaked information about Tajik authorities as well as to learn about possible ways of legal protection against government sanctions and bans.

While the Tajik State Committee for National Security tightens the grip over the national media, a large part of the US media programs is being provided abroad in neighbor countries. For instance, in February 2017 a number of local journalists in collaboration with non-profit organization «InterNews Network» were sent to Armenia to take an internship in the local news agency «Hetq.am». As the program suggests, once the interns return back, they are supposed to perform media investigations on corruption and other misdemeanors pursued by high authorities in Tajikistan. In addition to that, the 3 local shooting teams will be selected to take up the training in the United States where they would master their skills in making documentary movies on human rights protection, as a part of the American project «Media Co-Op».

Meanwhile, among the project trainers are international experts who were involved in training of activists and protesters in color revolutions in Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Georgia. Given the fact that the project graduates are to be provided by financial and legal support from the United States they are likely to pursue investigations that would undermine credibility of the Tajik authorities and the President Emomali Rahmon. Which by no means rises a debate about future Tajik-US relations and real intentions of Washington policy in Tajikistan

Media campaigns and journalist trainings funded by the US are common in Tajikistan and around the Central Asia. Earlier last year the radio station «Ozodi» located in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe signed a sponsorship agreement with a number of foundations and financial institutions funded by American philanthropist and investor George Soros. As a result, the station openly criticized Dushanbe’s support for Moscow-Beijing economic cooperation, discouraged rapprochement of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in terms of water consumption, economic and cross-border cooperation and tried to prevent anti-terrorist cooperation between Dushanbe, Moscow and Beijing.