. Konstantin Zatulin, chairman of the Russian Duma’s CIS Affairs Committee, warns against "leaving Tajikistan just as disgracefully as we ditched our allies in Afghanistan;" and credits Iran for helping Russia in Tajikistan. Just back from Tehran from his second visit there this year, Zatulin writes that "our positions are drawing closer and closer. Just like us, Iran is concerned that Tajikistan’s so-called democratic opposition is increasingly counting on US and Western assistance. We can not remain indifferent to this because our soldiers in Tajikistan are protecting the border of the former USSR." (9)
Zatulin is an influential hard-liner closely associated with the Congress of Russian Communities and personally with General Aleksandr Lebed. From his post dealing with CIS states, Zatulin openly opposes their independence (from Belarus to Tajikistan). Iran’s cooperation with Russia in Tajikistan (and also in Transcaucasus) has long been observable and punctures the argument advanced for Western use that Russia resists the spread of Islamic radicalism in those regions.