At a recent meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Astana, Kazakhstan, Russian President Vladimir Putin had to listen to a rare, seven-minute admonishment of Russian policies versus lesser CIS members by Emomali Rahmon, long-time leader of Tajikistan.
“We may be small nations, we may not have 100-200 million people, but we have history, we have culture, and we want to be respected. We don’t need anything but to be respected,” said Rahmon, 70, who has been the de facto leader of his country of 9 million since 1992.
Rahmon even accused Putin of making the same mistakes that led to the fall of the Soviet Union. The speech by the Tajik leader is seen by some analysts as a sign that Putin has less of a grip over the former Soviet satellite states due to Russia’s poor performance in Ukraine, which has diverted resources and attention from nations traditionally in Russia’s orbit.
Rahmon also complained that Russian businessmen had arrived in Tajikistan, enriching themselves from the country’s resources, but refusing to invest.