Tajikistan PM’s wife owns luxury properties in Dubai

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Ikhbolkhon Nazirova, Luxurious properties, Kokhir Rasulzoda, Emomali Rakhmon,, Azda TV, Mira Oasis III, Farangez Azimova, Yahyo Azimov

In a region known for its opulence juxtaposed with stark poverty, the case of Tajikistan’s prime minister’s wife, Ikhbolkhon Nazirova, raises significant questions. Despite having no apparent source of substantial income, Nazirova owns several luxurious properties both in Tajikistan and Dubai. This mystery is compounded by the fact that her husband, Prime Minister Kokhir Rasulzoda, is legally barred from commercial activities and has been a public servant for the past 24 years.

Tajikistan, an autocratic Central Asian country, offers little in the way of media freedom. President Emomali Rakhmon, who has been in power for three decades, has systematically suppressed dissent and concentrated power. However, investigative efforts by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and Azda TV, an exiled media outlet, have shed light on Nazirova’s extensive property holdings. According to Tajik records, Nazirova owns four apartments and a hotel in Sughd, a province where her husband once served as governor, as well as a house in the capital, Dushanbe.

Adding to her domestic real estate portfolio, leaked property data from the Dubai Unlocked project reveals that Nazirova purchased two villas in Mira Oasis III, a gated community in Dubai. These properties are worth approximately US$1.4 million combined. The absence of any record of Nazirova having held a well-paid job or owning a profitable company further deepens the mystery of how she could afford such investments.

Prime Minister Rasulzoda’s role, though largely ceremonial, places him close to the regime’s inner circle. Edward Lemon, president of the Washington D.C.-based Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs, describes Tajikistan’s regime as “kleptocratic”. Despite Rasulzoda’s modest official salary and prohibition from engaging in business, his family’s wealth suggests otherwise. Lemon notes that Rasulzoda’s lack of personal ambition within the authoritarian political system likely made him an ideal choice for prime minister, a role where he would pose no threat to the ruling establishment.

While there are no direct allegations of corruption against Rasulzoda or Nazirova, their wealth stands in stark contrast to their known income sources. Neither responded to inquiries regarding their financial status and property acquisitions.

Nazirova’s properties in Tajikistan include an “apart-hotel” in Khujand, the ancient capital of Sughd province. Khujand, with its 2,500-year history, was once a bustling trade center along the Silk Road. Today, it is Tajikistan’s second-largest city and a far cry from the modern luxury of Dubai. In Dubai, Nazirova’s villas in the Mira Oasis III community offer amenities such as an amphitheater, dog park, swimming pools, and a volleyball court, representing the vast economic disparity between her properties in Tajikistan and the UAE.

Leaked data also shows that Nazirova’s daughter, Farangez Azimova, owns property in Dubai. At the age of 24, she purchased a villa in the upscale Meadows community, which is now valued at around US$5.4 million. Azimova, a fashion designer, is married to Zafar Azimov, a businessman and the son of former Tajik Prime Minister Yahyo Azimov. Zafar Azimov co-owns a private equity firm investing in various sectors across Russia, Tajikistan, and the US. The couple’s lavish lifestyle is evident from Azimova’s Instagram posts, showcasing frequent travels to Europe.

Despite the wealth, Nazirova has no registered business ventures or significant employment history. She once headed a cultural center in Khujand but has not been involved in the private sector. Tajikistan’s repressive environment makes it difficult to find any substantial media coverage about her, largely due to the regime’s tight control over independent voices.

A former press officer who worked with Rasulzoda when he was governor of Sughd posted a profile in 2020, painting a picture of an incorruptible minister and his dedicated wife. The article details their visit to help local farmers harvest cotton, with farmers expressing surprise at Nazirova’s participation. The profile emphasizes Rasulzoda’s blue-collar background, noting his career in construction and engineering before entering politics in 2000 as the Minister of Land Reclamation and Water Resources.

Rasulzoda’s reputation as “the most incorruptible Tajik minister” contrasts sharply with the unexplained wealth his family has amassed. The article highlights his and Nazirova’s modest beginnings and their family life, portraying Nazirova as a supportive wife and talented homemaker. However, this portrayal clashes with the reality of their luxurious assets.

The wealth of Tajikistan’s prime minister’s family remains an enigma, underscored by a lack of transparency and accountability within the country’s political system. While no direct evidence of corruption has been linked to Rasulzoda or Nazirova, the stark contrast between their known income and their property holdings raises significant questions. In a country where media freedom is heavily suppressed, uncovering the truth behind such wealth is a daunting challenge, but it remains crucial for fostering transparency and accountability in governance.

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