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 The Tajikistan Update 



RAKHMANOV POINTS HIS FINGER TOWARDS TASHKENT FOR BACKING "DESATBILIZATION ATTEMPTS"

by Najam Abbas Ph.D (abbas@najam.td.silk.org), observer of developments in Central Asia

In a loud and clear voice, Tajikistan's President Imomali Rakhmonov has cried foul clearly pointing his fingers towards Tashkent for backing conspirators who attempted a military take over in Leninabad during November 4-9. "This is an aggression which we can't allow," Rakhmanov told the current session of the Tajikistan's legislative assembly Friday summoned to discuss what is now referred as the 'aborted coup.' Despite all these disturbances taking place along the border between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan we never allowed the heat to reach Tashkent just over a 100 km away from the scene of disturbance, said Rahmanov. In a emotional tone, he declared "we will die but will not give away any piece of land to our enemies."

The Tajik television repeatedly showed glimpses of UTO leader Akbar Turojonzade sitting to the right of Prime Minister Yahyo Azimov at the parliament's session as if symbolising closing of ranks between the opposition and the government in face of an external threat. It is a departure from past practice when the official media maintained a near total blackout of Turojonzade who was appointed as UTO nominated Deputy Prime Minister. The UTO despatched its fighters to Khujand to free the Leninabad oblast from the Khudaiberiev troops. President Rakhmonov urged the legislators to strengthen his hands by approving his decrees without any voting. This perhaps may soon settle the nomination of UTO's candidates pending ratification by the parliament.

Despite clear efforts on part of the state television to down tone strong remarks, even the extensively edited portions of presentations by Rakhmanov and top officials of his administration failed to conceal their strong reaction over the position taken by the Uzbek authorities, reports by the Russian media and efforts by ex-Premier Abdulmalik Abdullojonov to present the recent events in a particular colour. How could these people throw sand in the eyes of the mothers who have lost their sons in the recent bloodshed? Inquired in his ferocious speech Ms. Rafiqa Musaeva, chairman of a parliamentary committee who heads a parliamentary Committee. She also expressed her utter displeasure of what she termed as dubious support of mercenary journalists and Russian publications favouring Khudaiberdiev. In a loud voiced she inquired as to "why Islam Karimov does not respect all the agreements and hand over the terrorists to Tajikistan?"

Reading aloud the report about the Taking over of Leninabad oblast by dissidents like ex- Premier Abdulmalik Abdullajanov, former presidential Guards Commander Colonel Mehmud Khudaiberdiev and their associates, Tajik Minister for Security Saidamir Zuhurov made revealing details before the parliament. In front of all cameras he waved a video cassette containing an interview of a personal bodyguard of Abdullajanov in which he confesses of working for Abdullajanov who is based in Tashkent and enjoys support from the Uzbek Interior Ministry. The Tajik Security Minister S. Zuhurov pointed out that about ninety of the conspirators who were taken prisoners were being interrogated.

Facts made public at parliament's session pointed out towards not only the vulnerability of Tajik borders but also what Interior Minister Mohyuddin Sharipov termed as 'lax attitude' of the security personnel at the borders and other installations, "treason" and a 'sell out.' He claimed that many among the personnel who collaborated with the conspirators had prior knowledge of the coup attempt. Sharipov further declared that claims made by the Uzbek Foreign Minister of having no knowledge about the conspiracy and the culprits behind that §was a lie to deceive the world community." The conspirator "enjoyed support from the highest echelons of power" in Uzbekistan. He expressed his fears that continuation of such policy will lead to "repetition of similar incidents in future." According to his estimates the incidents resulted in the killing of over 100 people with another 700 wounded of which 441 are civilians. He emphasised that law enforcement agencies of both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan should exchange information with each other against the enemies of peace.

Tajikistan's Security Minister Saidamir Zuhurov presented the following facts in his presentation before the Parliament in Dushanbe. §Between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. on November 4, military formations supporting former presidential Guards Commander Colonel Mehmud Khudaiberdiev crossed into the Tajik territory and over border posts on the Tajik Uzbek border. By 0300 am these groups established their control over Khujand and nine other adjacent town and rayons. Equipped with a great number of arms and ammunition, these formations started moving towards Dushanbe, heading through the Angara Tunnel and threatening to blow up the road link between Dushanbe and Leninabad oblast. Khudaiberdiev and his armed bands attempted to isolate the Leninabad oblast from the rest of the country and establish themselves as the 'third force' which should be reckon with,Š stated Zuhurov further adding that ex-premier Abdullojonov and his former aides made several administrative officials switch sides and thus many installations were taken over by the conspirators without any fighting.

Deputy Chairman of the Parliament Abdulmajid Dostiev stated at the parliament that although we need friendship we will not allow any acts detrimental to this friendship. Without naming Uzbekistan he pointed out that all evidences spoke of the involvement of the northern neighbours. We invite independent observers from all over the world to come and determine the facts on their own.

Published at the Tajikistan Update on November 15, 1998