Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rakhmon is tired of the “toadyism.” Suddenly modest, he’s told his government to knock off the lavish receptions everywhere he goes because they are embarrassing. From Reuters:
"I feel ashamed of your toadyism," an enraged Rakhmon told a government meeting in remarks broadcast by state television.
"Ordinary people, residents of the towns and districts where I come on working visits, keep complaining to me: 'They empty our pockets on your every trip...gathering money for a tribute, a carpet, a rug, flowers and feasts'."
"What's that? Stop it! I don't need any of this."
A video posted by RFE/RL in November shows what Rakhmon is talking about, though it certainly seems he’s having a good time. (Western diplomats who have met Rakhmon confide they fear that he is too cut off from the outside world, that his handlers have concocted a cult of personality to shelter him in a cloud of sycophancy and take increasing control over matters of state.)
This isn’t the first time the president has told his government to cease the flattery. In 2009, he said he was tired of seeing his face plastered over government buildings and billboards. But the glorification continued -- some might say grew -- after his comments. The thing with shahs is that you’re never sure if they’re speaking in riddles. And, at the time, many interpreted his comments as an instruction to post photos of him alone, not with other local dignitaries, lest they use his visage to boost their own standing.
Presidential offspring in Central Asia often follow similar development patterns.
It has become standard, for example, for the children of the region's leaders to cultivate an uncanny knack for business, but also to branch out into sport and now also philanthropy.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov's daughter, Gulnara, is mainly famous for her fashion sense, entrepreneurial skills and diplomatic nous, but she has also attempted in recent years to cast herself as the country's arch-philanthropist.
British singer Sting's performance in Tashkent, for instance, was ostensibly organized by Karimova to raise money for "various charitable projects and grants programs," as her own official site explains. That performance turned into such a major PR disaster, however, attracting negative coverage from international media, that Sting was forced to issue a hasty statement describing Karimov as being "hermetically sealed in his own medieval, tyrannical mindset.”