Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 90

Even in territory nominally controlled by the Tajik government, anarchy symptoms persist. On a single day, May 8, the authorities reported three cases of contraband with massive amounts of aluminum—a product of Tursunzoda plant, one of the largest in the former Soviet Union. Seven heavy trucks, clandestinely carrying 140 tons of the metal, were stopped en route to Iran. A consignment of 13.5 tons of aluminum pipes, bound for Belarus, was stopped before it could exit Tajikistan. Another transport, worth US$1.68 million and bound for St. Petersburg, was intercepted at the Uzbek border. Iranian, Russian and Belarusan citizens were reported detained in these incidents (Itar-Tass, May 8). Rival groups within the Tajik government have long fought one another for control of the lucrative Tursunzoda plant. Its output represents the foremost source of foreign currency–not for the Tajik government but for mafia-type groups within it.

Last week, Uzbek police in the Surhandaria region–abutting Tajikistan–discovered a consignment of nearly 500 kilograms of drugs in a Tajik railway car bound for Sverdlovsk, Russia. The catch, one of the largest on record in recent years, consisted of heroin, opium and hashish hidden in 1,450 cans of fruit and 250 bags of dried fruit. The drugs had been packed at the large Chiptura fruit-processing plant in Hisor district, west of Dushanbe. The authorities announced, elliptically, that “the person responsible has been identified”–very likely a protege of the authorities themselves (Itar-Tass, May 5).

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