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“There Are No Other Problems” in Tajikistan Besides Name Games

More than a week after Tajikistan's Prosecutor General made a controversial statement about “unpatriotic” surnames, Internet users in the country continue debating whether the ending of one's surname is a good measure of the person's level of patriotism. Many netizens, however, are angry about the fact that the Prosecutor General has been so vocal on seemingly trivial issues while remaining silent on high-profile cases that fall under his mandate.

The following image is widely circulating among Tajikistani users of social networks Facebook and Odnoklassniki:

patriot

Anonymous image circulating online.

The text at the very top and the very bottom of the image reads ironically, in Russian: “The Prosecutor General is worried about people changing surnames. If your surname ends with “ov” or “ev”, you are not a patriot. There are no other problems in the country!”. Smaller images and texts behind the Prosecutor General's photo relate to cases that the official has apparently failed to address. These images (staring with the bottom-left image, moving clockwise) point to: a deadly car crash involving a son of a well-connected official (text reads, “Murderer”); newly-built plant emitting hazardous coal dust in the country's capital (“Ecology is dead”); recent death of an opposition activist in prison, apparently of torture (“Murdered”); recent jailing of an influential businessman-cum-opposition politician on dubious charges (“26 years in prison”); and the fact that at least a million of Tajik citizens work outside of the country to keep their families out of poverty (“Migrant”).

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