Russian president Boris Yeltsin’s national security adviser Yuri Baturin and deputy chief of the Russian General Staff Col. General Vyacheslav Zherebtsov have been in Tajikistan since February 1. The two officials are conferring with Tajikistan’s leaders and participating in negotiations with the insurgents. They have also watched exercises of the Dushanbe-based regiment of Russia’s 201st mechanized division "under battle conditions," even as they redoubled assurances that the Russian troops would not intervene in the inter-Tajik conflict. Baturin’s statements suggested that he is advising Rakhmonov to broaden his government’s political base and to make some concessions both to the Islamic opposition and to the regional forces involved in the latest revolts. (12)
Baturin reinforced the advice offered by Russia’s foreign and defense ministers Yevgeny Primakov and Pavel Grachev and by Yeltsin’s foreign policy adviser, Dmitri Ryurikov, in successive talks with Rakhmonov over the preceding ten days. Since the January 19 CIS summit, Moscow has made its continued support of Rakhmonov conditional on minimal political concessions to the Islamic opposition. The split in the Tajik regime adds to Moscow’s concern that Russian troops may be dragged into the fighting. Russia can ill afford to become involved in hostilities in Tajikistan while simultaneously fighting the war in Chechnya. Such military involvement is also ill-advised in the runup to the Russian presidential election.
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