DUSHANBE/MOSCOW, August 21 (RIA Novosti) – A tree planted as a “symbol of the eternity of independent Tajikistan” by the impoverished ex-Soviet nation’s president has withered.
In March, Emomali Rakhmon and foreign diplomats planted two 10-meter (33-foot) tall Californian sequoia trees in front of the brand new Foreign Ministry building in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe.
The 50-year-old sequoia planted by foreign diplomats has taken root, but that planted by the long-time president has withered. Several smaller sequoias planted by Rakhmon near a concert hall in Dushanbe have taken root, however.
The failing tree looks set to become the second “eternal symbol” in Tajikistan whose existence has been unexpectedly cut short.
In 2004, a 23-meter (75-foot) tall stone slab bearing the Latin inscription “Perpetuum Vita” (Eternal Life) collapsed in Dushanbe a day before Rakhmon was scheduled to unveil it.
A former collective farm chairman, Rakhmon has ruled the war-scarred, mountainous Central Asian nation of nearly 8 million for almost 20 years. In 1997, he brokered a deal with secular and Islamist opposition that ended Tajikistan’s civil war that began in 1992 and claimed tens of thousands of lives.
Rakhmon’s critics accuse him of cracking down on opponents and independent media and driving key opposition leaders out of the country or jailing them on trumped-up charges. In late July, a UN human rights watchdog criticized Rakhmon’s government, citing "reports of politically-motivated harassment of opposition political leaders.”
Add to blog
You may place this material on your blog by copying the link.
Image Galleries: Hungry Hippos, Tiny Tamarins and Other Animal News
Infographics: First Russian Smartphone
New ties between Russia and Japan would mark not only a breakthrough in their relations but also a significant shift in Northeast Asia’s political dynamic. Both are secondary players in a region overshadowed by an increasingly assertive China, which has not hesitated to push against the boundaries of its neighbors.