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Russian Soldiers Get Lengthy Prison Terms For Killing Tajik

Ildar Sakhapov was sentenced to 13 years and Fyodor Basimov got 17 years.

DUSHANBE -- Two Russian soldiers stationed in Tajikistan have been convicted of killing a Tajik taxi driver and sentenced to lengthy prison terms by a Russian military court.

A court at Russia's military base in Tajikistan on August 26 sentenced Fyodor Basimov, a deputy platoon commander, to 17 years in jail on August 26, while former military unit commander Ildar Sakhapov received a 13-year sentence.

The two were arrested in August 2014 after taxi driver Rahimjon Teshaboev, 36, was found dead near the Tajik capital, Dushanbe.

An autopsy revealed that Teshaboev, a father of three, was severely beaten before his throat was slashed.

At the trial, Basimov said that he owed a substantial sum of money to Teshaboev and decided to kill him. He said he had invited Teshaboev to go fishing with him and Sakhapov, and that they killed him during the excursion.

Teshaboev's relatives had called for life sentences for both defendants for the crime, which increased tension between local Tajiks and Russian military personnel in the former Soviet republic, whose ties with Moscow are close but sometimes strained.

A Russian soldier has been accused of carrying out an attack on August 21 that left a Tajik taxi driver with multiple stab wounds to the abdomen last week.

The driver, Tohir Sultonov, told RFE/RL on August 26 that Dmitry Tolstoi attacked him after he drove the soldier from Dushanbe to the southern city of Qurghon-Teppa.

Tolstoi is currently under arrest at the Russian military base.

About 7,000 troops from Russia's 201st Motor Rifle Division are stationed at the base in in Tajikistan, which consists of three facilities -- one at Kulob, one at Qurghon-Teppa, and one near Dushanbe.