The Kommersant business daily wrote about a new scandal involving commercial structures of Russia’s Defense Ministry. The main department for troops development GUOV terminated contracts with Stroiimpuls SMU-1 owned by diseased businessman from St. Petersburg Sergei Amelin and tries to return over 9 billion rubles in advance payments through court action, the daily wrote. Some of these funds had already been used to buy property earlier owned by armed forces from Oboronservis defense property services company.
The Investigative Committee is looking into these deals.
Stroiimpuls SMU-1 owned by Sergei Amelin, who died of heart attack on January 20, was one of GUOV’s biggest contractors. It reconstructed and built over 100 facilities for the armed forces, including Presidential Cadet Corps in Tyumen, the Defense Ministry’s central archive in Podolsk, campus of the Defense Ministry’s general headquarters in Moscow and the S.M. Budenny Military Academy of Communications in St. Petersburg.
According to GUOV, in 2010-2012 Stroiimpuls received 17.2 billion rubles in advance payments, of them 10.2 billion rubles have not been worked out. At the same time Teorema company, which was also controlled by Amelin, got 2.4 billion rubles from GUOV as a loan to buy buildings and land plots that were earlier owned by the Defense Ministry.
GUOV’s new management (the previous one was sacked last spring) decided to terminate contracts with Stroiimpuls and applied to courts demanding collection of advance payments.
United States modernizing Tajikistan’s army
On Tuesday Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon held talks with commander of the United States Central Command, General Lloyd James Austin to discuss modernization of the Central Asian republic’s armed forces and Afghan-Tajik border strengthening. The talks took place two days ahead of Rakhmon’s visit to Russia.
It turns into practice, when a U.S. representative pays a visit to Dushanbe accurately ahead of the Russian-Tajik talks, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. Rakhmon’s yesterday talks and his upcoming visit to Moscow are overburdened with the upcoming presidential election in Tajikistan. In the conditions of a deep social and economic crisis that hits the republic Rakhmon hopes for the Kremlin’s support.
However, it will not dump support of Washington, if the latter stretches a helping hand, the daily noted. The more so this concerns the defense sector. The subject of talks remains unknown. On the one hand, this is the presence of Russia’s military base 201 in Tajikistan, which should be given an opportunity to use the Aini military airfield. On the other hand, this is the withdrawal of the military base, which is being pushed forward, and the handing over of the Aini airfield to the United States and NATO - possibly, through India’s mediation - and deployment of other military facilities of the Alliance’s member-states on Tajikistan’s territory.
Several years ago the U.S. opened its first training centre in Tursunzade, 45 kilometers of Dushanbe. It trains personnel for Tajikistan’s armed forces. At the same time the Central Asian republic’s army remains the region’s most purely equipped. Experts say combat readiness of Tajikistan’s armed forces is so low that they are unable to repel external threats on their own.
At the previous meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the CSTO informal summit in Bishkek Emomali Rakhmon concerned over possible threat that would emanate from Afghanistan after the pullout of NATO’s troops requested Moscow to speed up the issuance of a 200-million-dollar loan. The latter promised to give it for the Tajik army’s modernization. But having received no prompt answer from Russia, Rakhmon started talks with the U.S.
At the meeting with U. S. General Lloyd James Austin the Tajik leader discussed regional security and the strengthening of the Afghan-Tajik border that the U.S. had de-facto been improving since 2005. He also focused on material and technical support for Tajikistan’s military and special units.
An expert for Central Asia and the Middle East, Alexander Knyazev, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that “it appears that President Rakhmon has not grasped that the multi-vector policy is for strong and clever, while this does not concern his regime.”
The political scientist believes that Moscow should refrain from providing any guarantees to the Tajik president. “A real focus on Russia has not been seen in his policy for fifteen years, soon after Moscow helped him to come to power, to establish a truce with the opposition and to stop civil war,” he said. “It seems that the Russian side should work more with the Tajik opposition, the more so it has much more opportunities for this than Washington or London. But a circle of these opportunities is rapidly narrowing.”
Knyazev noted that Russia’s policy in relation to Tajikistan that strongly reminds the situation with neighboring Kyrgyzstan remains one-sided. “May be, Rakhmon will win this election through the use of force and administrative resource, but this does not mean that he will retain his presidential office for the whole seven-year period,” he said. “If Russia directly or indirectly demonstrates its support for Rakhmon, it will lose the Tajik society and this time, probably, forever.”