Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 30

A special joint session of Tajikistan’s government and parliamentary leaders yesterday issued an official public offer aimed at meeting the demands of the Sodirov brothers in exchange for the release of the remaining 15 UN observers and journalists, as well as the Tajik state security minister, taken hostage earlier by Bakhrom Sodirov. The joint session was chaired by President Imomali Rahmonov and was attended by Russian military commanders and diplomats. In its offer, the government agreed to fly 40 Sodirov fighters by helicopter from Afghanistan to southern Tajikistan, there to exchange them for the hostages and to permit the fighters to join the Sodirovs at their base in central Tajikistan’s Garm region.

The ex-opposition commander turned Moscow ally, Rizvon Sodirov, was flown on February 10 to Tajikistan from Afghanistan with a small group of his fighters aboard a Russian helicopter, ostensibly to persuade his brother Bakhrom to release the hostages. But Rizvon and his men promptly joined Bakhrom in demanding free passage for Rizvon’s force to Tajikistan in return for releasing the hostages. Dushanbe and the Russian military commanders offered to airlift only a part of Rizvon Sodirov«s detachment from its present location in Afghanistan, where it has been fighting against the Taliban on the side of the runaway former Afghan government headed by Burhanuddin Rabbani and Ahmad-Shah Masood. Masood has opposed such a deal.

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