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Russia Increases Tariffs On Gas Exports To Tajikistan

Russia says it has decided to increase tariffs for oil and oil products exported to Tajikistan, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Tajik authorities said on March 24 that according to the new tariffs, custom duties for Russian oil products going to Tajikistan will be increased by up to 5.3 percent, making the price for a ton of gas more than $250, up from the current $232.

Political analyst Muso Asozoda told RFE/RL that such a decision by the Russian government could have a negative impact on bilateral relations.

He added that it appears some circles in Moscow are interested in complicating relations between Dushanbe and Moscow.

Former Tajik Trade and Economy Minister Davlat Usmon told RFE/RL today that the issue of customs duties and tariffs is usually completely an economic issue but that it currently "looks to be political."

Usmon noted that in May Russia increased tariffs for Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan but later waived the new tariffs for Kyrgyzstan. Usmon said Moscow probably is seeking something from Tajik officials in exchange for such a waiver, like a Russian military base in Tajikistan.

According to Russian media reports, Tajikistan imports some 90 percent of its fuel from Russia and the Russian gas giant Gazprom dominates the Tajik fuel market.

Tajikistan was exempted from paying Russian tariffs on oil and gas exports from 1995-2010.

When Russia cancelled Tajikistan's tax exemption last summer, Tajik Prime Minister Oqil Oqilov sent a letter to Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin asking for the tax-free status to be restored.

Afterward, working groups from the two sides held several rounds of negotiations and in the fall declared that the issue over tariffs was nearly resolved.