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Russians To Stay on Tajik Border

January 23, 2002

MOSCOW (AP) _ Russian troops will continue to guard Tajikistan’s borders with Afghanistan and China for at least 10 to 15 years, the Russian border guard commander said Wednesday.

``Tajik border guards have difficulties now, for they lack two factors that would enable them to perform the tasks of guarding their state border _ a regular officer corps, which will take 10 to 15 years to appear, and proper financing,″ Col. Gen. Konstantin Totsky told reporters in the Armenian capital Yerevan.

``Our presence within this period is appropriate and necessary,″ he said, according to Interfax news agency.

Russia has 25,000 border troops on the Tajik frontiers with Afghanistan and China because Dushanbe can’t afford to police the region itself.

Totsky told journalists that when the Tajiks are ready to take over, ``we will embrace each other, leave a group of advisers and retreat to our borders.″

Russia agreed to take over responsibility for protecting the borders of the former Soviet republic in 1993 when the country was mired in a civil war.

Russia fears the spread of Islamic fundamentalism which has produced severe civil disturbances in some of the Central Asian states of the former Soviet Union.

Update hourly