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Russian Missiles Seized On Way To China

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia's chief military prosecutor has said he suspects navy officials tried to smuggle 30 antisubmarine missiles through Tajikistan to sell them in China.

"A few days ago we sent material to start criminal proceedings against navy officials and some businessmen who brought 30 contraband antisubmarine missiles and 200 aviation bombs into Tajikistan for onward sale to China for $18 million," Russia's chief military prosecutor, Sergei Fridinsky, told a meeting of prosecutors chaired by President Dmitry Medvedev.

"The ammunition was detained in Tajikistan," he added.

But prosecutors in former Soviet Tajikistan said they had not yet received evidence from Russia's military about the plan to smuggle the weapons into China, which lies on the other side of the Pamir Mountains.

"We've already heard about the case, but we have not yet received the material," the RIA Novosti news agency quoted the top Tajik military prosecutor, Yusuf Rakhmonov, as saying.

Russia has a military base in Tajikistan, which had been on the periphery of the Soviet Union, but its soldiers no longer guard the land-locked Central Asian state's often-porous borders with Afghanistan and China.

Earlier this month, the United States agreed a deal with Tajikistan to allow NATO to move nonmilitary supplies through the country to its forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.