The Tajik government has recently transferred thousands of hectares of prime land to a private company that government opponents claim is controlled by a close relative of the authoritarian president, Emomali Rahmon.
RFE/RL’s Tajik Service obtained a copy of an official document signed by Rahmon on November 29 that grants temporary ownership of the land to the Ismoili Somoni Holding Company.
According to the government’s business registry, the head of the holding company is Rahmatullo Asadulloevich Sadulloev, whom the president’s critics have identified as one of Rahmon’s brothers-in-law.
RFE/RL has contacted the Tajik authorities for comment but had not received a response at the time of publication.
The document doesn’t explain why the government decided to give some 8,500 hectares of land to a private company. It includes pastures, forests, and plots in sought-after areas just outside the capital, Dushanbe.
The new owner will have full control of the land for the next 20 years, the document states.
With mountains covering 93 percent of Tajikistan’s surface area, land is a precious commodity in the country of 10 million people. The deal comes as ordinary Tajiks complain of a severe shortage of land to graze their livestock, grow food, and build homes.
The state registry shows that the Ismoili Somoni Holding Company was established in 2006 and has since been involved in various businesses, including construction. Official documents provide no details or photos of the company’s head, Rahmatullo Asadulloevich Sadulloev.
According to media close to the political opposition, he is one the influential Sadulloev brothers — the siblings of Tajikistan’s first lady, Azizamo Asadulloeva — who control numerous lucrative businesses in the corruption-stricken country.
RFE/RL cannot confirm if the company’s chairman is indeed a member of the family or a mere namesake with a business portfolio matching that of Rahmon’s relatives. There are also other private companies in Tajikistan whose name includes “Ismoli Somoni.”
President’s Powerful In-Laws
The first lady’s elder brother, Rahmatullo Sadulloev, reportedly controls farmland and businesses in the southern province of Khatlon, while notably keeping his distance from politics and refraining from taking government posts.
Sadulloev was once quoted as allegedly saying, “I am the president of Khatlon; Rahmon is the president of Dushanbe.”
In March 2022, Rahmon attended the opening ceremony of the International Presidential School in Khatlon, which was built by “domestic entrepreneur Rahmatullo Sadulloev,” the government website reported without further information about the businessman.
The most high-profile among the president’s brothers-in-law is Hasan Asadullozoda — previously known as Sadulloev — whose vast business portfolio includes the major financial institution OrienBank and key airline, Somon Air.
His twin brother, Husein, controlled a company that sold oil products in the southern Khatlon region. Husein Asadullozoda died after an illness at the age 54 in 2022.
Another brother, Amonullo Sadulloev, is in charge of the Somon Sughd corporation, which controls a string of profitable businesses in the northern part of the country.
Amirullo Asadullo, another sibling, had served as the mayor of Bokhtar, the provincial capital of Khatlon.
The first lady and her brothers use different variations of their surname and patronymic — Sadullo and Asadullo — styling them with Tajik or Russian endings or without a suffix.
Rahmon, who has ruled Tajikistan with an iron fist since 1992, has long been accused of exploiting his position to enrich himself and his relatives while the majority of Tajiks live in deep poverty.
Almost all major banks and businesses in Tajikistan are thought to be controlled by Rahmon’s friends and supporters.
In addition to their private companies, several of his nine children occupy high government positions.
His eldest son, Rustam, simultaneously holds two important posts: the chairman of the upper house of parliament and the mayor of Dushanbe. The first post puts him next-in-line for the Tajik presidency if his father should become incapacitated or otherwise unable to serve.
One of Rahmon’s daughters, Ozoda, is the chief of staff of the presidential administration, while her husband, Jamoliddin Nuraliev, had served as the first deputy finance minister and first deputy chairman of the National Bank.
Source: Radio Liberty