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Despite Russian Claims, Military Revolts Continue In Tajikistan

Dushanbe, Tajikistan Jan 30 (RFE/RL) - Tajikistan's Security Minister Sayidanvar Kamolov today confirmed in an interview with RFE/RL that the situation in his country remains tense. He said leaders of military revolts still hold government officials and buildings. The apparently unrelated revolts errupted during the weekend in the southwestern city of Kurgan Tyube and in Tursan Zade, a town west of Dushanbe on the border with Uzbekistan.

The leader of the revolt in Kurgan Tyube, Colonel Makhmud Khudoberdyev, has denied Russian reports that his forces had surrendered their arms and returned to barracks for negotiations with authorities. Khudoberdyev told RFE/RL by telephone that his forces retain control of key government buildings in the town.

According to Security Minister Kamolov, the government is in negotiations with the revolt leaders. The government says it is committed to a peaceful resolution. Interfax news agency reports that a group of Tajik parliamentarians has been dispatched by President Imomoli Rakhmanov to negotiate with those leaders.

Kamolov also said that there is no connection between the revolts and the Tajik opposition, whose representatives are involved in talks at Ashgabat, Turkmenistan about the on-going conflict in Tajikistan. The former Soviet Republic has endured more than three years of civil war, pitting the National Reconciliation Government against pro-communist forces.

Akbar Turajonzode, head of the opposition delegation at the Ashgabat talks, told RFE/RL that the opposition supports the demands of the revolt leaders. Turajonzode says he has urged the government to avoid using force. Turajonzode said the revolts show that the government has no nation-wide plan for reconciliation and peace. He repeated an opposition demand for a coalition government that would include members of the opposition. Dushanbe has rejected the demand.

Khudoberdyev says he supports President Rakhmonov and the presence of Russian-led CIS forces in Tajikistan. But Khudoberdyev repeated his demand Tajikistan's government must resign, and that Rakhmonov should achieve a peace accord with the opposition as soon as possible.

Khudoberdyev denied that ethnic tensions influenced his revolt. He said his forces are supported by Tajiks, Uzbeks and Russians living in the region. He also said that he has assured the Russian commander of CIS forces that he supports the peace-keeping mission in Tajikistan.

The revolt in Tursan Zade also is reported to be continuing. Yesterday, there were heavy military patrols and troops guarding buildings in Khujand in northern Tajikistan's Leninabad region.

Tajikistan's border service says Russian troops yesterday were attacked by a group of residents in Khorog. One resident was reported killed. Khorog is in southeast Tajikistan near the border with Afghanistan, and lies near Tajik opposition-controlled areas.