The command of the nominally CIS peacekeeping troops in Tajikistan announced yesterday the completion of the last round of winter exercises. Russia’s 201st Motor-rifle Division and associated units practiced "liberation" of sites encircled by the Tajik resistance, and the military "simulated [a] combat situation created as a result of Tajik opposition tactics." Armor, artillery, tactical aviation, and paratroop units practiced mutual coordination of combat actions. The 201st Division commander, Lt. General Viktor Zavarzin, was in overall command of the exercises. (Interfax, April 9)
The exercises appear to have broken the framework of the mission of Russian "peacekeepers." Unlike Russia’s border troops deployed on the Tajik-Afghan border, the peacekeeping force is nominally neutral and not supposed to engage in combat against the Tajik opposition. As spring may usher in renewed combat, the Russian exercises appear designed to intimidate the opposition, which achieved territorial gains in Tavildara in January and February. Political talks collapsed in February following the Dushanbe authorities’ refusal to share political power with the opposition.
TAJIK DISSIDENT REGIONS RESTIVE AGAIN.