DUSHANBE, June 29, Asia-Plus  -- It cannot be ruled out that visit of Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, who arrived in Dushanbe Wednesday together with Sergey Naryshkin, Head of Russian President’s Office, will be dedicated mainly to discussion of border cooperation between Tajikistan and Russia and the status of Russian border-guard advisers in Tajikistan, independent Tajik journalist Rajab Mirzo said in an interview with Asia-Plus.

“I think the third round of negotiations between Tajikistan and Russia on the status and tasks of the Russian border-guard advisers failed,” said Mirzo, “Russia now wants to strengthen its military presence in the region.  The Kremlin thinks there are all necessary opportunities for this in Tajikistan and the Ayni airfield stands empty.”

He considers that the negotiations were uneasy for the Tajik side, because the Kremlin has not paid attention to Dushanbe’s expectations for a long time.

“The Kremlin officials are sure that requirements of our country are not interested for them; they think the Tajik authorities will ask them for help themselves.  However, the region is extremely important for Russia,” said the journalist, “The Kremlin thinks Tajikistan has nowhere to go and may be they are right.”

According to him, the fact that the visit of Russian high-ranking state officials to Tajikistan takes place straight after visits of Western officials is the first sign of a new wave of rivalry of the world powers in the region.  “In the meantime, the official Dushanbe has paid no heed to the fact that the players have changed the strategy long ago.”

“The Tajik authorities still think that they may play according to the old rules,” noted Mirzo, “[Uzbek President] Islam Karimov, for example, is playing more successfully against their background.  He managed to visit China and India before Russian President Medvedev’s visit to Tashkent, while our authorities think that they may act according to the old scheme – Europe-the United States-Iran.  This scheme does not work anymore.  And even statement that we have military cooperation with Iran is no object.  Neither Moscow nor Washington believes it.”

We will recall that the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai visited Dushanbe on June 22-23 to discuss with Tajik state officials issues related to cooperation between NATO and Tajikistan.  Besides, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) William R. Brownfield is reportedly arriving in Dushanbe today.  In Tajikistan, Mr. Brownfield will visit the Drug Control Agency (DCA) in Dushanbe to discuss current collaboration and the potential role of this agency in the Initiative.  The Assistant Secretary will also visit the Tajik-Afghan border to dedicate a completed barracks facility at the Border Guard Detachment in Shouroobod and a reconstructed Border Outpost at Yakhchi Pun.