The IMU (Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan), a small guerrilla force that last year with Russian protection crossed from the Pamir mountains of Tajikistan into the safety of Afghanistan, has made itself felt in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. During the summer a few hundred IMU fighters established a base in eastern Uzbekistan, and another IMU group moved last month into Kyrgyzstan. Mountain climbers briefly held by the insurgents in Kyrgyzstan describe them as extremely young. Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have apparently asked Russia for “military-technical assistance” to deal with the situation. Russia’s Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov ruled out sending personnel for now. Russia’s foreign ministry blamed Afghanistan, calling the Taliban “a direct threat to the interests of Russia, Uzbekistan and other member countries of the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States].”