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Drunken Russian Soldiers In Underwear Brawl With Tajik Men

According to one witness, a fight broke out after some drunken Russian soldiers who had stripped down to their underwear began dancing, singing, and "yelling loudly" in a residential area of the southwestern Tajik town of Kulob. (Photo: Russian soldiers in Kazakhstan)

KULOB, Tajikistan -- Residents near a Russian military base in southern Tajikistan say a group of drunken Russian soldiers in their underwear brawled in the street overnight with local Tajik men who had confronted them about their raucous behavior.

Witnesses say several of the Tajik men were injured in the street fight late on July 28 in the town of Kulob.

Jamshed, a Kulob resident who witnessed the violence and asked that his last name not be published, said the fight broke out after seven drunken Russian soldiers who had stripped down to their underwear began dancing, singing, and "yelling loudly" in a residential area of the city center.

"Local men asked the soldiers to return to their base but the Russians didn't listen and argued with them," Jamshed said. "The scuffle broke out and several other soldiers came from the military base to help their comrades."

Police were called to the scene. There were no immediate official comments about the brawl.

But an official from a law enforcement agency in Kulob told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity that a criminal investigation had been launched into the case.

About 7,000 troops from Russia’s 201st Motor Rifle Division are stationed in Tajikistan at three different facilities -- one at Kulob, another at the southern city of Qurghon-Teppa, and one near Dushanbe.

Under an agreement signed in October 2012, Russian troops are allowed to remain stationed in Tajikistan until 2042.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Dushanbe after the signing of the treaty that the deal would help preserve "our common strategic interests, the strengthening of security, and the stabilization of the situation in the Central Asian region as a whole."

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon noted that Russia was providing Tajikistan's army with weaponry and assistance to improve other aspects of the defense sector under the deal.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Tajikistan wants Russian troops on its territory in order to secure its poorly controlled border with Afghanistan.

But the presence of Russian soldiers has led to some tensions with local residents near the bases in the past.

In February, a Russian officer was charged with severely beating a waiter at a restaurant in Kulob.

In the summer of 2014, two Russian officers stationed at the 201st Motor Rifle Division's facility in Dushanbe were arrested on suspicion of killing a Tajik man who lived in the capital.