Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service, known locally as Radio Ozodi, notes that unprecedented information and propaganda campaign aimed at justifying the Russia’s so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine on one hand, and a flow of information showing the tragic consequences of the war that include large-scale human rights violations, alleged atrocities, demolished cities, thousands of deaths, and millions of refugees and displaced persons on the other hand have caused Tajik society to find itself in a new set of debates in a public discourse.

In general, local media and TV channels have reportedly followed the unofficial instructions with the exceptions being a couple of private publications and social-media platforms.

Some journalists justify following the policy for practical reasons because of the many Tajik migrants working in Russia. 

Tajiks are reportedly generally divided into the three main groups.

First, there is a group of active supporters of the Russia's invasion whose opinion corresponds to the narrative disseminated by the propaganda in the Russian media.  This group includes many people and factions that have traditionally constituted a social base of Russian "soft power" not only in Tajikistan but in other former Soviet republics.  Key among them are reportedly supporters of communist ideology and the parties that share anti-Western feelings, a portion of the Russian-speaking, secular intelligentsia, and the wider population stratum that is nostalgic for the Soviet era.

They are opposed by a second and smaller group of active critics of the Russian invasion who are appalled by the level of brutality and the number of civilian casualties in the conflict, among them many well-educated intellectuals, artists, independent journalists, civil activists, and followers of the political opposition, RFE/RL’s Tajik Service says. 

There is also a third and major part of the population made up largely of labor migrants, farmers, and bazaar traders who do not regularly follow the news. They reportedly have a vague understanding of what is happening in Ukraine but usually sympathize with Russia and its policies.

RFE/RL notes that a very unusual phenomenon within Tajik public opinion is an alliance between pro-communist groups and followers of militant jihadist organizations that support the Russian invasion under anti-Western and anti-American slogans.

The debates and misunderstandings between proponents and opponents of the war often assume such intense character that they increasingly shift from social media to private life, straining relations between people, colleagues, friends, and even members of the same family.

According to and RFE/RL's Tajik Service, an estimated 65-70 percent of the comments by Tajiks on the main social-media platforms directly or indirectly support or justify Russian actions in Ukraine.

Social scientists say this trend is due to the strong link Tajikistan maintains to the Russian-speaking information space, with many getting their information from Russian media, especially TV stations and talk shows, for their news on Ukraine and other international issues.

In other words, Tajikistan still views the outer world through the eyes of the Russian media controlled by the Kremlin.

Tajik filmmaker Anisa Sobiri told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that many Tajiks support the Russian invasion of Ukraine because "Tajik society itself has a higher tolerance for aggression."

Some journalists and experts point out the mentality of the Tajik people that feels grateful to Russia, which employs up to 2 million people from Tajikistan.

Many labor migrants, their relatives, and family members know that their social well-being, standard of living, and economic future are reliant on Russia. That created a kind of physiological dependency among Tajiks that the only way to improve their social status was to emigrate to Russia.

This has led to the number of Tajiks receiving Russian passports to increase from 44,700 in 2019 to 63,400 the next year and some 103,000 thus far in 2022.

It also is the reason many of them refuse to recognize another narrative on Ukraine, or to listen to alternative information or points of view.