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Russians Back To The Border?

Heroin seized on the Tajik-Afghan border by Russian border guards in 2004.

Heroin seized on the Tajik-Afghan border by Russian border guards in 2004.

Russian border guards are up for returning to the Tajik-Afghan border if Tajikistan were to ask them to come back.

According to Maksim Peshkov, director of the CIS department at the Russian Foreign Ministry and Russia's ex-ambassador to Tajikistan, the return of the Russian Border Guards Service to safeguard Tajikistan's southern borders has been discussed between the two countries' authorities.

Russian border guards were stationed alongside the Tajik border until 2006, when the task of guarding the border was handed over to their Tajik counterparts. A small group of Russian experts still remain there as consultants to the Tajik border services.

Tajikistan shares a 1,200 kilometer border with Afghanistan, which is considered a major transit route for Afghan opium to Central Asia, and on to Russia and Europe.

It's not the first time this year Russian officials mention the idea of bringing Russians back to Tajik borders. Last June, as noted in by Chaikhana, Russia's drug czar Viktor Ivanov said the presence of Russian troops on the Tajik-Afghan border would help stem the flow of narcotics.

Some 1.5 tons of drugs were seized by Tajik border guards along its southern border in the first nine months of 2009. According to Tajikistan's Ministry of Interior Affairs, 174 kilos of narcotics were confiscated from drug traffickers in one operation alone in the southern Shuroobod District this week.

Tajik officials have yet to comment on the possible return of Russians to the country's borders.

-- Farangis Najibullah

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