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Un mécontentement social, économique et culturel à l’origine des mobilisations politiques

Tajikistan and the Ambiguous Impact of the Soviet-Afghan War

The Political Mobilisation of Former Participants of the Soviet-Afghan War in 1989
Le Tadjikistan et l’impact ambigu de la guerre soviétique d’Afghanistan. La mobilisation politique d’anciens participants à la guerre soviétique d’Afghanistan en 1989
Таджикистан и противоречивые следствия советско-афганской войны. Политическая мобилизация бывших участников советско-афганской войны в 1989 году
Markus Göransson
p. 113-142


Former participants of the Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989) played a significant role in political developments in Tajikistan in the perestroika period yet they did so in markedly different ways. While some aligned themselves with established power, supporting propaganda drives and presenting themselves as loyal soldiers of the Soviet regime, others became active participants in the movement for cultural and linguistic revival, even to the point of founding and joining opposition groups. The paper argues that far from dealing a shock to the political system in Tajikistan, the Afghan War had both conservative and subversive effects on political discussions in this period.

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Full text document will be published online on November 2017.


The Impact of the Afghan War
The Central Asian Participants
Conscripts and Officers
Outspoken Partners
State and Soldier
Advisers and Interpreters
The Other War
Return to Tajikistan

First lines


The Afghan War left an ambiguous legacy in Tajikistan. In some quarters, it fed religious and nationalist sentiment, acting as a vehicle of wider criticisms of Russian-led rule. This was particularly true for underground religious circles, where the war was sometimes cast as anti-Islamic (Ro’i, 2002, pp. 346, 704; Reuveny & Prakash, 1999, p. 704.), but it was also the case in certain intellectual groups that increasingly espoused nationalist rhetoric in the late Soviet era. In other ways, however, the war appears to have reinforced Communist power in Tajikistan. With the 1979 invasion, the small fringe republic suddenly acquired central strategic importance and was in consequence showered with political attention and material support from Moscow. Sharing a 1,300 kilometre border with Afghanistan, Tajikistan became an advance base for the Soviet intervention and was also used to showcase the Soviet model to delegations of visiting Afghans (Roy, 1997, p. 197).

An even more ...

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Bibliographical reference

Markus Göransson, « Tajikistan and the Ambiguous Impact of the Soviet-Afghan War », Cahiers d’Asie centrale, 26 | 2016, 113-142.

Electronic reference

Markus Göransson, « Tajikistan and the Ambiguous Impact of the Soviet-Afghan War », Cahiers d’Asie centrale [Online], 26 | 2016, Online since 01 November 2017, connection on 20 September 2017. URL :

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About the author

Markus Göransson

Markus Göransson received his PhD from the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University, in 2016, for a thesis about the political mobilisation of Soviet-Afghan War veterans in Tajikistan between 1979 and 1992. In 2013 and 2014, he conducted archival and oral research in Tajikistan. He holds an MA in Conflict Studies and Human Rights from Utrecht University and a BA in Modern History from the University of Oxford. Contact:

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