Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 145

Tajik internal affairs minister Saidamir Zukhurov admitted to an interviewer yesterday that government troops recaptured the town of Tavildara after the armistice had taken effect on July 20. Zukhurov sought to portray the government troops’ operation as hot pursuit of opposition forces. Tajikistan’s Defense Ministry spokesman Sergey Kuzin said yesterday that government forces had lost 178 killed in that operation. Tajikistan’s first deputy defense minister and army chief of staff, Lt. General Nikolai Shcherbatov said that the opposition is counterattacking and that Dushanbe’s three "power ministers" are urging UN envoy Gerd Merrem to arrange the immediate dispatch of UN observers to the area. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, July 24)

Zukhurov’s statement confirms the opposition’s charges that government forces breached the freshly signed armistice by seizing the strategically crucial town on July 21. While its forces were on the attack, the government block the access of UN observers. Now it is in the government’s interest to see those observers deployed.

The opposition also charges that Russian "peacekeepers" replaced Tajik troops guarding Khaburabad pass in order to block opposition reinforcements arriving from Badakhshan. The Russian commander, Lt. General Viktor Zavarzin replied that his troops "don’t have such functions" and are merely escorting humanitarian cargoes while observing neutrality.

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