Dushanbe Accuses Bishkek Of Violating Cease-Fire Deal Along Tajik-Kyrgyz Border

By RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service RFE/RL's Tajik Service

Tajik authorities have accused Kyrgyzstan of violating cease-fire agreements near disputed segments of their shared border after dozens of people were killed from both sides during clashes last month.

Tajikistan's Border Guard Service stated on October 19 that Kyrgyz authorities are implementing "premeditated actions aimed at escalating the situation in districts close to the state border."

"The provocative actions of some Kyrgyz citizens to destabilize the situation, preparation of assault points, digging of trenches, continuation of concentration of military equipment, and regular violations of the air space of the Republic of Tajikistan clearly confirm the Kyrgyz side's malign plans," the statement said.

Kyrgyz authorities rejected the Tajik statement, saying it "absolutely does not correspond to the real situation."

In a statement, the Kyrgyz State Border Guard Service accused the Tajiks of using a photo of Kyrgyz military trucks taken last month as they were withdrawing from the border area, and falsely portraying it as a new photo to make it look as though Kyrgyzstan was concentrating its military equipment in the border area.

The statement said it was the Tajik authorities who are violating cease-fire agreements by leaving deadly mines on the disputed territories and digging trenches there.

Earlier in the day, Kyrgyz Defense Minister Baktybek Bekbolotov told reporters that Bishkek had asked the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to provide a limited contingent of troops at disputed segments of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.

"An independent mediator must stay between us, such as a limited group of CSTO troops, with the goal of maintaining a cease-fire and the withdrawal of heavy weaponry from the border. If they solve these two issues, then the political goals on the delimitation and demarcation of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border can start being discussed," Bekbolotov said.

Both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, along with Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Armenia, are CSTO members.

Bekbolotov's statement comes two days after Kyrgyz Security Council Secretary Marat Imankulov said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed to provide Bishkek with archived Soviet-era maps to help solve the ongoing border dispute between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Putin has said that there is more "true" information about borders between the former Soviet republics available in the archives in Moscow than in the republics themselves.

Putin and the Kyrgyz and Tajik presidents, Sadyr Japarov and Emomali Rahmon, discussed border problems between the two Central Asian nations on October 13 in the Kazakh capital, Astana.

In September, Kyrgyz and Tajik authorities accused each other of aggression after the two sides used heavy artillery and mortars in clashes near a disputed part of border.

Kyrgyz officials said 63 of its citizens died in the violence, and more than 200 others were injured. Tajikistan has put its death toll at 41, but correspondents from RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported a higher number after talking to relatives and friends of the people killed during the clashes. They concluded that 81 people, about half of whom were civilians, lost their lives.

Many border areas in Central Asia have been disputed since the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991.

The situation is particularly complicated near the numerous exclaves in the volatile Ferghana Valley, where the borders of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan meet.

Almost half of the 970-kilometer Kyrgyz-Tajik border has yet to be demarcated, leading to repeated tensions since the two countries gained independence more than three decades ago.