Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 24

Ethnic Uzbek rebel leaders in two different parts of Tajikistan called January 31 for a redistribution of power and benefits within the Tajik regime, all the while professing loyalty to Russia. In the western town of Tursun-Zade, rebel leader Ibodullo Boimatov called for removing the "mafia surrounding the president" Emomali Rakhmonov. In the southern town of Kurgan-Tyube, the commander of the Defense Ministry’s 1st motorized brigade, Colonel Mahmud Hudoberdiev, called for the removal of Tajikistan’s defense minister Sherali Hairulloev as well as other central and regional government officials. Dushanbe officials led by parliament chairman Safarali Rajabov were holding talks January 31 with both rebel groups.

In the mountainous Tavildar district, resistance forces January 30 killed at least two government soldiers and wounded others in a clash that disrupted negotiations in Turkmenistan between the Tajik government and the opposition. At the negotiations in Ashgabat the next day, the government proposed the formation of a consultative council as a joint government-opposition body. However, opposition delegates described the proposal as completely inadequate because it provided for only minimal representation of the opposition. In Moscow, President Boris Yeltsin’s spokesman Sergei Medvedev said in Yeltsin’s name that Russian troops would not take part in combat operations in Tajikistan except to defend the Tajik-Afghan border and military installations in the country. (14)

Moscow is interested in avoiding hostilities that could involve Russian troops during a presidential election year in Russia. Russian foreign and defense ministers Yevgeny Primakov and Pavel Grachev advised Tajik leaders last weekend in Dushanbe to show more flexibility in negotiations with the opposition, notably on the issue of a government-opposition consultative body and the legalization of political parties. But this token concession will not satisfy the opposition, which seeks the formation of an interim governing body with legislative and executive functions to prepare new elections. Domestically, the Rakhmonov government is weakened by the predominance in governmental posts of Kulyabis at the expense of other regional clans.