KIEV, February 7 (RIA Novosti) – Ukrainian authorities this week detained a former Tajik politician, who has long been living in the United States, and got permission from a local court Thursday to keep him in custody for 40 more days in anticipation of an extradition request from Tajikistan, according to Ukrainian prosecutors.
The former prime minister and one-time rival of Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon, Abdumalik Abdullojonov, was detained Tuesday at Ukraine’s Borispol Airport outside of Kiev, reportedly under an international arrest warrant issued by Tajikistan some 16 years ago.
Tajik authorities accuse Abdullojonov of organizing a 1997 assassination attempt against Rakhmon, in which the president sustained a gun wound to the leg, and of supporting an uprising by Col. Makhmud Khudoyberdyyev in November 1998. Both events took place in northern Tajikistan, Abdullojonov’s home region. In media interviews at the time, Abdullojonov denied any involvement in Tajik politics.
In those years, the country was emerging from its brutal 1992-1997 civil war, which ended in a short-lived power-sharing agreement among warring factions that often had strong ties to particular areas of the country.
Prior to that, Abdullojonov (whose name appears in press reports in various forms, including Abdullodzhonov and Abdulladzhanov) served as Tajikistan’s prime minister in 1992-1993 and, later, spent two years as the country’s ambassador to Russia.
In 1994, he ran for president in the country’s first nationwide election since independence from the Soviet Union. As a northerner, Abdullojonov had widespread support among voters in Sughd Region, then called Leninabad Region, whence the political leaders of Soviet Tajikistan had traditionally hailed. Abdullojonov lost to Rakhmon, who has been ruling the country ever since and gradually sidelining his political rivals.
In 1998, Abdullojonov moved to the United States. The Tajik-language service of Radio Free Europe, Radio Ozodi, has reported that he holds a green card and had flown into Kiev from Los Angeles via Amsterdam, according to Fergananews.com, a website focusing on Central Asia.