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MOSCOW, July 6 (Itar-Tass) - A serious scandal over the 201st Russian military base is fanning up in the relations between Russia and Tajikistan, the Kommersant daily reported. Russia accused the Tajik authorities of making unacceptable conditions for the extension of the rent for the military base and suspended its funding. The Tajik Defence Ministry called the Russian position as “politically incorrect.” Even the defence ministers of the countries, which met at a meeting of the CIS Council, failed to break the deadlock in this tense situation. According to experts, Dushanbe’s tougher position is linked with a more active influence of the United States and China in the republic that threatens Russia with the loss of positions in Tajikistan.
Commander of the Russian Ground Troops Col.-Gen. Vladimir Chirkin stated Thursday about a critical situation in the negotiations with Tajikistan over concluding a new agreement on the 201st Russian military base. “Tajikistan puts forward absolutely unfeasible demands, which run counter to our initiatives. The situation emerges that can be settled only in common efforts,” the commander said, adding that “the question arises whether we will be there or not.” Then already Chief of the Russian General Staff General Nikolai Makarov stated about the suspension of financing for the 201st Russian military base, explaining this step with “unconstructive actions by Tajikistan.” The Tajik Defence Ministry gave a tough response to the Russian military. The ministry called Moscow’s assessments as “politically incorrect”.
The largest Russian ground military base in the former Soviet republics that is deployed in Tajikistan and has a numerical strength of about 7,000 servicemen was created in 2004, the newspaper recalled. Then the interstate agreement was concluded for ten years. Russian troops are deployed in Tajikistan in three garrisons in Dushanbe, Kurgan-Tyube and Kulyabe. The ongoing negotiations to extend the deployment of the 201st military base were launched back in 2008. According to Kommersant sources close to the negotiations Russia was seeking to negotiate the extension of the rent according to the model, which was practiced in Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. New agreements only made some changes in the effective agreements extending the rent term by 49 years.
Last September it turned out that there will be no difficulties in the negotiations. During a visit to Dushanbe the then President Dmitry Medvedev put it clearly at a meeting with his Tajik counterpart Emomali Rakhmon that the countries reached an essential agreement that the deployment of the 201st military base will be extended at least for 50 years after 2014. However, after that the situation over the military base has changed dramatically. General Chirkin acknowledged that “Tajikistan has put forward over 20 demands, which are changing all the time.”
“President Rakhmon is seeking to get maximum possible benefits from the bargaining with Russia, taking advantage of the fact that more active players appeared in the region,” deputy general director of the Centre for the Studies of the Post-Soviet Space at the Moscow State University Alexander Karavayev explained. According to the expert, a recent sharply intensified cooperation between Tajikistan and the United States, China, India and the monarchies of the Gulf, primarily Qatar, deprives Russia of monopoly on the relations with Tajikistan and the previous role of ‘the elder brother’.