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Tajikistan: President Meets With Popular Front Commanders

Dushanbe, 23 July 1997 (RFE/RL)- Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov met in Dushanbe today with field commanders of former Popular Front units.

Rakhmonov spoke with them about cutting their armed forces in keeping with Tajikistan's plan to slash its national armed forces by 30 percent. Rakhmonov also said it was necessary to apprehend any separatists and terrorists remaining in the country. He singled out Rezvon Sadirov as a terrorist still at large. Sadirov and his brother Bahrom between December 1996 and February 1997, twice held UN personnel hostage, using them as bargaining chips to deal with the government.

Rakhmonov also denounced separatists who were once Popular Front commanders naming Colonel Mahmud Khudaberdiyev of the Tajik Army's First Brigade.

The Popular Front units were paramilitary formations armed originally by former President Rahmon Nabiyev in mid-1992 and later supported by Rakhmonov's government. The Popular Front units fought against the groups which now form the United Tajik Opposition which signed a peace deal with the Tajik government last month in Moscow.