The government opposition agreement on a temporary cease-fire both in Tajikistan itself and along the Tajik-Afghan border expires today. The powers of the joint cease-fire control commission also expire today. The commission’s co-chairman for the opposition, Zafar Rahmonov, was violently kidnapped February 24 on a street in central Dushanbe after the government withdrew the escort responsible for the security of opposition commissioners. The Tajik government insinuated that the opposition may have staged the kidnapping in order to exacerbate existing tensions. The government also accused field commander Mirzo Zieyev’s units of having resumed combat actions in Tavildara during the weekend and threatened countermeasures by government troops. United Tajik opposition leader Saidabdullo Nuri for his part claimed in a radio broadcast that the government currently exercises effective control over only 25 percent of Tajikistan’s territory. (16)
UN-mediated inter-Tajik negotiations broke down February 17, mainly over political differences, but also failed to extend the cease-fire. The government demanded another six-month extension, provided the resistance gave up territory recently gained in Tavildara; the resistance indicated it would agree to a three-month cease-fire extension if it codified those gains. The government has pledged to observe an informal cease-fire in Tavildara unless attacked, but has nevertheless been massing forces there which far exceed those of the resistance in number and firepower. Dushanbe’s claims that the resistance is attacking may be part of its political preparation for planned offensive operations when the spring thaw permits.
Also last week, Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov and the commander of Russian-led CIS "peacekeeping" troops, Lt. General Viktor Zavarzin, ruled out any withdrawal of those troops from Tajikistan, directly contradicting the January 19 CIS summit’s resolution. That resolution had announced a possible withdrawal of the troops by July 1996.