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Tajik Official Denies Uzbek Water Station Was Broken Into

KHUJAND, Tajikistan -- A high-ranking Tajik border guard official denies reports that Tajik security forces and farmers have forced their way into an Uzbek-owned water-distribution station along the Uzbek-Tajik border, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

The incident -- reportedly widely in Russian media -- was alleged to have occurred in the Uzbek village of Ravot near the Konibodom district of Tajikistan's northern Sughd Province.

Colonel Muslih Imomqulov told RFE/RL that no one had entered the station and Tajik farmers are working in their fields as usual.

Zarifjon Sharifov, the chief of water resources in the Konibodom district, said that the local reservoir collects water from Tajikistan's Isfara River and sends it to the water-distribution station, which is some 500-600 meters on the Uzbek side of the border. He added that Tajik citizens have no right to go there but that the field between where the water is collected and the distribution station is owned by Tajik farmers who work the fields.

Noting that there are some 600 hectares of apricot orchards in the village bordering Uzbekistan, Tajik expert Tilav Rasulzosa said that historically Tajiks consider them as their property and it is not clear what would happen if during the delimitation of the Tajik-Uzbek border that land becomes Uzbek territory.

Hanifa Yusufova, a representative of the local council, said that according to an agreement between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Tajik farmers can work there without restrictions until the final border is established.