Tajikistan gets a dangerous problem at the Afghan border

Tajikistan gets a dangerous problem at the Afghan border

Rafael Fakhrutdinov

For several days in one of the regions of Tajikistan – Gorno-Badakhshan – protest actions do not subside. Despite the fact that the first shots have already been fired, the army has not yet intervened in the situation. The echoes of the protest reached Moscow – here visitors from Tajikistan came to the embassy of their country. What is happening in Tajikistan and how can the internal conflict of the Central Asian republic be dangerous for Russia?
On Saturday, unrest continued for a third day in Khorog, the capital of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO), which occupies the entire eastern part of Tajikistan. The head of the region, Alisher Mirzonabotov, went out to the crowd of protesters, urged them to leave the central square of the city, but they did not listen to him. Moreover, when Mirzonabotov tried to return to the government building, a scuffle broke out and shooting began, the Kyrgyz portal Knews.kg reported.
According to unconfirmed reports, stones were thrown at the head of the region, and several people tried to drag him into the crowd. In response, Mirz-onabotov’s guards opened fire, resulting in several injuries. No official information has been received from the authorities.
It is noteworthy that official information about the events in Gorno-Badakhshan has not been received at all, from the very beginning of the unrest that broke out on Thursday.
The reason for the riots was the arrest and death of a 29-year-old resident of the region, Gulbiddin Ziyobekov. According to eyewitnesses, the security forces took Ziyobekov out of the house alive, put him in a police car, and after some time announced his death. Also, eyewitnesses say that the next day a crowd of protesters brought Ziyobekov’s body to the central square of Khorog, after which an indefinite protest rally began there, which continued on Saturday.
According to Moskovsky Komsomolets, the 29-year-old Badakhshan was suspected of taking hostage by an organized group. According to his relatives, Ziyobekov stood up for his sister, who was molested by an assistant local prosecutor – together with his relatives, he attacked the offender, beat him for eight hours, and then forced him to apologize on camera.
On the first day of the unrest, according to the local administration of the State Committee for National Security, a group of militants tried to seize the building of the autonomy’s government in Khorog, Asia News reported. “Young people did not obey the order of law enforcement officers and, using firearms, stones and other piercing-cutting objects, attacked the employees of the State Committee for National Security, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the prosecutor’s office who were serving in the building,” the Tajik security officers said.
According to unconfirmed reports, during the assault on the building, at least two attackers were killed and at least five security officials were wounded. After that, the troops cordoned off Khorog, turning off communications and the Internet in the city, but did not dare to enter the regional capital, and Mirzonabotov began peace negotiations with the protesters.
At the same time, popular Tajik bloggers announced a mass rally near the UN building in New York, urging compatriots to take to the streets in other countries, including Russia. On the same evening, about a thousand Tajiks gathered around the Tajik embassy in Moscow. Several riot police vehicles were brought up to the embassy building on Malaya Nikitskaya Street. However, the action ended peacefully.
According to TASS, on Friday, the demands made by the protesters to Dushanbe became known: to consider as soon as possible the case on the death of Ziyobekov, withdraw up to 70% of the Tajik military from Khorog and take in their place residents of the region, remove checkpoints from the city and change the head of the region…
As you know, most of the approximately 200,000 population of GBAO are Pamiris. This ethnos differs from Tajiks both in its Pamir language and religion – the majority of Badakhshan residents profess the Shiite offshoot – Ismailism, while Tajiks mainly adhere to Sunni Islam. By the way, as the Tsargrad TV channel reminds, pro-Russian sentiments are traditionally strong in Badakhshan. In 1993, in the midst of the war, the parliament of Badakhshan declared GBAO an independent republic and began to seek entry into Russia.
The region occupies the entire eastern part of Tajikistan and borders Afghanistan. The importance of Gorno-Badakhshan was also appreciated in Beijing. It is here that the Chinese security forces have long been engaged in the protection of a section of the Afghan border – with the permission of Dushanbe, and recently the Chinese began to build a military base in GBAO in the Wakhan Gorge.
The death of Ziyobekov turned out to be a catalyst for the long-accumulating contradictions between Tajiks and Pamiris, Vladi-mir Evseev, head of the SCO Eurasian Integration Department of the Institute of CIS Countries, explained to the VZGLYAD newspaper. “So, for example, only Tajiks are appointed to positions in local power structures, not Pamiris, although the latter make up the majority of the population. Against this background, a strong split of the elites arose, and rebellious actions of local officers became more frequent. The root cause of this is the inability of President Emomali Rahmon to find a peaceful rather than forceful solution to interethnic contradictions, ”the expert said. “Such conflicts may well turn into armed confrontations. In this case, now everything depends on how Rakhmon is ready for compromises, ”Yevseev said.
As for the manifestation of the Pamiris in the center of Moscow, Evseev considers it an attempt to draw the attention of the leadership of our country to this interethnic conflict. “Russia could act as a mediator, for a start – at the level of consultations,” the analyst is sure. “Of course, our cities are not yet threatened with riots with the participation of Tajiks and Pamiris, but there is no need to wait for this, the issue must be resolved preventively.” Of course, Rakhmon does not like when they interfere in his internal affairs and does not want to allow other states to resolve the conflict in the Pamirs, Yevseev said.
Perhaps Dushanbe is in no hurry to arrange a punitive operation in Khorog for the reason that a neighboring country may also be drawn into the conflict after that. The fact is that in Afghanistan, in the province of the same name, Badakhshan, another part of the Pamir ethnic group lives. The Pamir is a sparsely populated, but strategically very important territory, and the situation there is very precarious, recalls Omar Nessar, director of the Center for the Study of Modern Afghanistan. “GBAO must not be allowed to become a vacuum that sucks in the Afghan conflict. Otherwise, it may reflect on the interests of Russia. The border with Afghanistan is now a matter of utmost concern for Moscow, ”the expert recalled.
So far, according to Nes-sar, this conflict is purely local in nature, but everything will depend on the number of victims. “If the Russian and Tajik authorities are unable to localize the conflict, and it will exp-and, then, of course, this could cause a very undesirable chain reaction in Afg-hanistan and in neighboring countries,” Nessar warned.
State Duma Deputy Mikhail Delyagin (“Fair Russia”) expressed indignation at the rally near the walls of the embassy, more precisely, at the inaction of the security forces.
“The police detachments that arrived at the scene tried to persuade the migrants to disperse. Nobody dared to disperse migrants ”,

  • quoted by Delyagin News.ru. “These are really pumped up, strong people, there are trained militants,” the deputy suggested and doubted that at least one of the protesters was wearing a mask, observed social distance and had a QR code.
    In turn, Iosif Diskin, a professor at the Higher School of Economics, former head of the Public Chamber’s commission on harmonization of interethnic and interreligious relations, believes that the police behaved completely correctly. He reminds that the participants of the gathering behaved calmly – no one chanted slogans, did not block traffic. According to him, the presumption of innocence prohibits detaining the protesters in advance only on the grounds that they could theoretically clash with ethnic Tajiks. “But we shouldn’t wait for them to break the law. Russia needs a much more organized work, the development of a strategy for interethnic relations, ”the source added.
    Moreover, Russia really should act as an “arbiter” in this conflict, but only if there is a request from the Tajik side, Diskin said. “We definitely do not need to destabilize the situation in Tajikistan. There was peace and order in the countries that border Afghanistan, so as not to bring to life a more serious – already armed – confrontation, “he explained to the VZGLYAD newspaper.
    To prevent the conflict from the distant Pamirs from spreading to Moscow, the authorities must influence the national cultural autonomies (NKA) of Tajiks, Diskin said. “NCAs are represented in the Presidential Council for Interethnic Relations, while they perform a purely nominal function. We are clearly underperforming here, ”the analyst complained.
    Abdullo Davlatov, chairman of the Union of Tajiks, told Radio Moscow Says that the Pamiris gathered at the embassy in Moscow simply because they lost contact with their relatives in Badakhshan. In the region, the Internet and mobile communications were turned off, the roads were closed. People came to the embassy for official information, Davlatov said: “And the embassy is the official representative of the state to protect citizens on the territory of the Russian Federation. So where should they go? ” Davlatov added that Gorny Badakhshan is a region that has been known since Soviet times for the fact that many people with higher education live there, people who are ready to defend their rights.
    It is worth noting that the conditions for the peacekeeping mission of Russia in the conflict inside Tajikistan in recent days have turned out to be by no means the best. Coincidentally, relations between the two countries were marred by a tragic incident in the Irkutsk region.
    We will remind, on November 12, two Tajik migrants were burned alive in the Irkutsk village of Zalari, four more were hospitalized with burns. All of them worked at a construction site, and spent the night in a trailer, which was set on fire by unknown persons. It is known that the arson was preceded by a fight with local residents. Cases of murder and attempted murder have been initiated.
    On Thursday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, Sirojiddin Mukhriddin, on Thursday, just on the day the riot in Khorog began, he called Sergey Lavrov and drew the attention of his colleagues to the need for a detailed investigation of the incident, as well as punishment of those responsible. In this regard, Sputnik expresses the hope that the death of Tajiks will be thoroughly investigated – “after the call from the Foreign Ministry.”

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