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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06DUSHANBE284
2006-02-13 08:36:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Dushanbe
Cable title:  

KHUJAND, THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OF TAJIKISTAN

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  ECON  EAID  KPAO  KDEM  RS  UZ  KG  TI 
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VZCZCXRO4415
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHDBU #0284/01 0440836
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 130836Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6677
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 1366
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 1404
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 1403
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 1342
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 1285
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1372
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1316
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1270
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 1166
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEABND/DEA HQ WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RHMFISS/HQ USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 1420
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY 1457
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0943
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY 0742
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 7784
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 DUSHANBE 000284 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR P, R, E, SCA/CEN, SCA/PPD, EUR/ACE, DRL, S/P
EUR FOR DAS BRYZA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2/13/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON EAID KPAO KDEM RS UZ KG TI
SUBJECT: KHUJAND, THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OF TAJIKISTAN

REF: DUSHANBE 0277

CLASSIFIED BY: Richard E. Hoagland, Ambassador, EXEC, Embassy
Dushanbe.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)



C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 DUSHANBE 000284

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR P, R, E, SCA/CEN, SCA/PPD, EUR/ACE, DRL, S/P
EUR FOR DAS BRYZA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2/13/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON EAID KPAO KDEM RS UZ KG TI
SUBJECT: KHUJAND, THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OF TAJIKISTAN

REF: DUSHANBE 0277

CLASSIFIED BY: Richard E. Hoagland, Ambassador, EXEC, Embassy
Dushanbe.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)




1. (C) SUMMARY: Khujand, Tajikistan's "second city," in the
Ferghana Valley and separated from Dushanbe by a formidable
mountain range, represents what Tajikistan could be - not a
democratic paradise, but a confident, relatively progressive,
stable society open to new ideas and cautiously resistant to
negative ideological pressure. The educated population,
well-disposed to the United States, have maintained their
dignity in desperate economic circumstances. They are
sophisticated, inquisitive, and welcoming. The subtle sense,
sometimes oppressive, of authoritarian political correctness
that pervades other parts of the western half of Tajikistan,
especially around Kulob, but even to a degree in Dushanbe, is
much less evident. Even government officials readily speak
their minds, and seem relaxed about it. Khujand gives us reason
to believe in the Central Asian "corridor of reform." END
SUMMARY.


2. (SBU) The Ambassador, POL/ECON Chief, A/PAO, and a LES
support staff visited Khujand February 7-8 and met with
journalists, students, development workers, small-business
entrepreneurs, and government officials. Alexander the Great
founded Khujand two and a half millennia ago as "Alexandria
Eskhata," "Further Alexandria," a name that is still recalled in
the up-and-coming private Eskhata Bank, which has the youngest
executive leadership of any bank in Tajikistan. The peg for the
trip was for the Ambassador to cut the ribbon for a $4.4 million
donation of medicines from Project Hope for hospitals and
clinics in Khujand and Sogdh Oblast, but the cargo plane was

delayed eight hours. The delegation instead toured Bobojon
Ghaffurov District Hospital, one of the primary recipients for
the Project Hope donation.


3. (C) Khujand, located in the Ferghana Valley, is different
from Dushanbe and even more strikingly so from Kulob in Khatlon
Oblast in the south. During the Soviet era, Khujand, then known
as Leninabad, was the industrial, intellectual, and cultural
center of Tajikistan. Khujandis, dignified and restrained in
their disappointment at lack of power, look down on the
currently dominant Kulobis as less-educated hick thugs, who,
nevertheless, currently have a lock on power and, thus, the
economy.


4. (C) Although the Khujand authorities provided police escort
and protocol minders (the junior protocol officer was likely
from the Ministry of Security) for the Ambassador at all times,
they made no effort to interfere with the pre-arranged program -
a marked contrast to Kulob's authorities who ham-fistedly
hijacked the Ambassador's itinerary and intimidated our
interlocutors last year. In fact, the senior protocol officer
seemed pleased to have someone to listen to his monologues on
life in Khujand. He became so enthusiastic about his visitors
that he proposed a joint summer vacation, away from all work, at
a lake in the valley. The city authorities also inserted a
journalist and cameraman from Khujand State TV into all events
and meetings. But they, too, were not disruptive, and we judged
that a camera in the face at all times was a small price to pay
for the wall-to-wall TV coverage of a U.S. visit - and to
demonstrate that we had nothing at all to hide during such an
official visit.

DUSHANBE 00000284 002 OF 003




5. (C) Khujand is still post-Soviet, post-Civil War poor.
Mayor Olimjon Jalolov understands that infrastructure
maintenance is essential but made clear he has no funds for it.
By example, he told us the city has about 450 kilometers of
streets and roads badly in need of repaving, but the budget for
that purpose is under $100K. The city has about 620 high-rise
Soviet-era apartment buildings, and about half the roofs are in
critical need of repair. And yet, there is more money
circulating than just several years ago. We heard that
Khujandis last year spent $21 million on foreign personal
vehicles (Mercedes-Benzes on every street), and there is a boom
in residential construction, as elsewhere in the country.
During an official lunch when the topic of the mushroom growth
of mini-mansions came up, one American officer commented,
"Especially around Kulob," making reference to the Kulobi
dominance of the economy. The Khujandi hosts were delighted,
laughed, shook the officer's hand, and offered yet another vodka
toast, as happens when someone makes an especially telling point.


6. (SBU) Mayor Jalolov made a rather pro-forma request for the
United States to establish joint ventures to get the vast number
of idle, decrepit, in fact hopeless, Soviet-era factories back
into production. More seriously, he noted that the United
States seems to have lost interest in the critical ecological
problem of dangerous uranium-tailing sites in the area. The
Ambassador assured him the United States has not lost sight of
the problem and that we hope for new attention to this issue
soon. (NOTE: EmbOffs had already visited the site that week.
END NOTE.)


7. (C) The one issue we heard everywhere was the problem of
Uzbekistan's strangling visa regime and near blockade of the
region. The blockade is not only visas, affecting business and
personal travel, but also includes parsimonious provision of
annually-agreed Uzbek electricity to Khujand, which harms
business activity and makes life generally miserable - a fact we
can attest to because the public buildings and private hotels we
experienced were frigid.


8. (C) By contrast, our interlocutors praised relations with
Kyrgyzstan and the ease of crossing the border: "We almost seem
like one country. In general, Khujandis look first to
Kyrgyzstan for trade and commerce and have little awareness yet
of possibilities in Afghanistan. The Anzob Tunnel is scheduled
to open in 2006, providing an all-year land route south, but the
Khujandis so far seemed to see this mainly as a link to
Dushanbe.


9. (C) The Ambassador asked at several meetings if the
Khujandis thought that Russia would possibly mediate the
problems with Uzbekistan, including the harsh visa regime, now
that Uzbekistan has joined the Eurasian Economic Community, and
now that Tashkent has a "new best friend" relationship with
Moscow. Universally, our interlocutors rolled their eyes and
made clear they expect no improvement so long as President
Karimov remains in power. In one telling comment, when the
Ambassador asked why Uzbekistan is so difficult, the response
was, "You [the United States] have had only 15 years of problems
with Uzbekistan - we've had a thousand years." To the same
question, Mayor Jalolov replied he was not prepared with an
official response but would be glad to give his personal
opinion, which he did and which was far from positive.
(COMMENT: That a senior official would readily proffer a
personal opinion is further evidence of the remarkable openness
of the Khujandis. END COMMENT.)

DUSHANBE 00000284 003 OF 003




10. (C) Khujandis know a better way of life is possible. At
the Bobojon Ghaffurov District Hospital, an oblast health
official asked for the U.S. to provide equipment for endoscopic
surgery and the latest technology for cardiovascular
micro-surgery. This was in a frightenly sad bare-bones building
that would not stand comparison with early 20th-century U.S.
medical facilities. But the medical staff were clearly
dedicated to providing the best service with what little they
had. The hospital officials were almost embarrassingly
insistent on proving to the Ambassador that they were using U.S.
medical donations effectively and responsibly and keeping a
careful log of every single tablet dispensed.


11. (SBU) As almost everywhere in the world, the hope for a
better future is with the younger generation. The highlight of
our visit was with about 20 FLEX-alumni young people at the
American Corner where the city library director and officials
from the oblast Ministry of Education warmly welcomed us, and
appeared genuinely to enjoy the lively give-and-take between the
Ambassador and the gratifyingly well-informed young people.


12. (C) COMMENT: Academic exchange programs, and the American
Corners that provide refuge and support to the young alumni and
many others, are the most important and cost-effective U.S.
long-term investment we can make to achieve eventual results for
our commitment to Transformational Diplomacy. We have asked
(reftel) to double the number of American Corners in Tajikistan.
The door is still open to us. We really must take advantage of
the opportunity while it exists. We do not mean to be alarmist,
but we want to point out that Moscow's current policy to
dominate its neighbors may eventually close that door to us
unless we stay pro-actively engaged. END COMMENT.
HOAGLAND