Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 174

Tajikistan’s National Reconciliation Commission, comprised of government and Opposition leaders and mandated to implement the June peace agreements, went to work this week. It focused on the formation of a coalition government and the exchange of prisoners and detainees.

The June 27 Moscow agreement entitles the Opposition to 30 percent of government posts. The Opposition is requesting the following ministries: Foreign Affairs; Education; either Economics or Foreign Trade; either Justice or the General Prosecutor’s Office; one of the three "force" ministries (Defense, Internal Affairs, or State Security); and management of the national television. The Dushanbe government currently consists of 18 ministries.

Noted Opposition commander Mirzo Zieyev surprised and delighted Moscow by releasing seven Russian prisoners in a goodwill gesture. Russian ambassador Yevgeny Belov had personally requested the release of three Russians; he was not aware of the other four. A grateful Belov attended the releasing ceremony together with Zieyev and Opposition chief of staff Dovlat Usmon in opposition-controlled Tavildara. In all, the Opposition freed 25 prisoners in a unilateral gesture. The government has thus far refused to implement the all-for-all exchange stipulated by the Moscow agreement. Dushanbe has taken few military prisoners, but holds some 300 political detainees. On the Opposition side, Zieyev’s detachment alone is believed to hold some 200 Tajik military prisoners.

In Dushanbe meanwhile, a senior lieutenant of a Russian helicopter unit was killed by unidentified gunmen in a manner that has almost become routine — by shots to the back of the head in broad daylight. (Russian and international agencies, September 16-18)

Kazakhstan Opposes Russian Encroachment on Its Caspian Sector.