Renegade chieftains Bakhrom and Rizvon Sodirov yesterday released their last six hostages: two UN military observers (a Ukrainian major and a Swiss captain), three UNHCR staffers (a Russian representing Tajikistan, a Tajik, and a Nigerian), and Tajik state security minister Saidamir Zuhurov. The Dushanbe government met most of the Sodirov brothers’ terms (see Monitor, February 17) for the release of the 15 hostages seized on February 4-5.
Bakhrom Sodirov stated today that no additional deals were reached in yesterday’s negotiations with President Imomali Rahmonov. But Sodirov added that his and his brother’s main goal in seizing the hostages was to resolve the issue of the future status of their force in Tajikistan. (Russian and Western agencies, February 17-18) The Sodirovs have in recent months demanded recognition as a "third force" in Tajikistan. The government used Bakhrom’s group to wreak havoc in the Opposition-dominated Garm, and Rizvon’s group for similar purposes in Opposition sanctuaries in Afghanistan. Government recognition of the Sodirovs as a third force in Garm would be anathema to the opposition and could derail the negotiations toward a political settlement.
Military Exercise with U.S. and NATO Troops Planned.