Russian President Boris Yeltsin has appointed Lieutenant General Nikolai Reznichenko as the new commander of the Group of Russian Border Troops in Tajikistan. Reznichenko, 46, served on various borders of the former USSR from the Baltic to Central Asia, fought in Afghanistan in 1984-88, and last served as chief of staff of Russia’s Special Border Troop District in the Caucasus. Reznichenko replaces Lieutenant General Pavel Tarasenko, who has completed a three-year tour of duty and whose performance has been rated highly.
Russian border troops in Tajikistan, currently 14,500 strong, form the bulk of Russian military forces in that country. The Russian army’s 201st "peacekeeping" division has some 8,000 soldiers deployed in the interior of Tajikistan. A major of that division was assassinated in Dushanbe yesterday. This is the first incident of its type this year. Such cases were common in 1995-1997.
In another change of guard, the UN Secretary General’s envoy for Tajikistan, Gerd-Dietrich Merrem, is leaving Tajikistan after a completed tour of duty. President Imomali Rahmonov thanked Merrem for his contribution to pacification efforts. The German diplomat mediated the three-year long inter-Tajik negotiations that led to the signing of last June’s peace agreements. (Russian agencies, April 3, 4 and 6; see Monitor, April 1)
Peace Talks May Open Afghan Route for Turkmen Gas.