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Rahmon, Putin to Determine Terms of Agreement on Russian Military Base in Tajikistan

Tuesday 2 October 2012

DUSHANBE (Asia-Plus) – An agreement regarding further extension of the presence of Russian military base in Tajikistan will not be signed during Russian president’s visit to Tajikistan scheduled for October 5, a well-informed source in the Tajik government told Asia-Plus Monday afternoon.

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Unlike the other former Soviet states of Central Asia, Tajikistan did not form armed forces based upon former Soviet units on its territory. Instead, the Russian Ministry of Defence took control of the Dushanbe-based 201st Motor Rifle Division; actually control simply shifted from the former district headquarters in Tashkent, which was in now-independent Uzbekistan, to Moscow. Also present in the country was a large contingent of Soviet border guards, which transitioned into a Russian-officered force with Tajik conscripts. For a long period a CIS peacekeeping force, built around the 201st MRD, was in place in the country. Due to the presence of Russian forces in the country and the Civil war in Tajikistan, Tajikistan only formally legalised the existence of its armed forces in April 1994.
Formally the 201st military base in hosted by Tajikistan free of charge due to the 2004 Treaty. Russia promised to invest about US $2bln into the country, but hasn’t honoured its promise. In 2004 optical-electronic centre Nurak was leased to Russia for 49 years at a symbolic price of 1 Somoni (about 0.21 Dollar) per year. In return Russian wrote-off the Tajik debt amounting to $242m.

According to him, the sides have still failed to agree on the period of further presence of the Russian military base in Tajikistan. “The Russian side insists on signing of a new agreement for additional 49 years while the Tajik sides offers to extend the presence of the Russian military base here for additional 30 years starting from 1993, when Motor-Rifle Division 201 came under jurisdiction of the Russian Federation,” the source said.

The source, however, added that it could not be ruled out that President Emomali Rahmon and President Vladimir Putin would determine terms of the new agreement themselves and sign it.

Russian ground forces commander General Vladimir Chirkin told the Ekho Moskvy radio station on September 29 that a deal extending Russian forces’ use of bases in Tajikistan would not be ready to sign until the first half of 2013. The two countries needed more time for consultations and to agree on conditions for Russia’s military base to stay an additional 49 years after current agreements for base use expire in 2014, the Russian general noted, indicating that Tajikistan wants material aid from Russia as part of an extension agreement.

Meanwhile, the source in the Tajik government noted on October 1 that the sides also intend to sign a government-to-government plan On Modernization of Armed Forces of the Republic of Tajikistan, under which Russia will assist Tajikistan with modernization o fits armed forces.

The source also noted that it could not be ruled out that the sides would sign an agreement, under which Tajik nationals may stay in Russia without registration during 15 days also and vice versa, and a government-to-government agreement on restoration of the tax-free status for the Russian oil products exported to Tajikistan is expected to be raised at the meeting, the source said.

Tajikistan was exempted from paying Russian tariffs on oil and gas exports from 1995-2010 and Russia cancelled Tajikistan’s tax exemption on May 1, 2010. “Besides, issues related to writing off Tajikistan’s debts to OJSC Sangtudinskaya GES-1, which operates the Sangtuda-1 hydropower plant in Tajikistan,” the source said, adding that the Russian side would also be offered to participate in construction of small and medium-sized hydropower plants in Tajikistan.

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