Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 16

At the CIS summit of heads of state January 19, signatories to the 1993 agreement on collective peacekeeping extended the mandate of the peacekeeping force in Tajikistan until 30 June 1996. The extension was granted at the request of Tajik president Emomali Rakhmonov. CIS state leaders appeared to condition renewal of the mandate beyond that date on the Tajik government’s flexibility in negotiations with the opposition. Lt. General Viktor Zavarzin was appointed the new commander of the CIS peacekeeping troops in Tajikistan. Summing up the discussion, Boris Yeltsin told the final news conference that "today we told Rakhmonov it’s enough. We can’t carry Tajikistan in our arms forever. Our men, Russians, are dying there." Whether Yeltsin’s remarks expressed a considered policy is far from certain, as Deputy Foreign Minister Albert Chernyshev cited several reasons for Russian forces to remain in Tajikistan beyond June 30, irrespective of the Tajik government’s performance at the talks. Those reasons included permanent provocations from Afghan territory, the spread of Islamic extremism, and 100,000 Russian-speakers in Tajikistan. (17) The nominal CIS peacekeeping force consists of Russia’s 201st motor-rifle division plus token Uzbek, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz units. Russia also stations border troops on the Tajik-Afghan border, bringing the aggregate number of Russian troops in the country to a reported 25,000. Moscow has nudged the Dushanbe regime toward certain concessions in the talks with the opposition, but has yet to apply real pressure.