The leaders of Armenia (Nikol Pshinyan), Azerbaijan (Iljam Aliyev), Belarus (Alexander Lukashenko), Kazakhstan (Kassym-Jomart Tokayev), Russia (Vladimir Putin), Tajikistan (Emomali Rahmon), Turkmenistan (Serdar Berdimuhammedov) and Uzbekistan (Shavkat Mirziyoyev) have all been reported as attending an informal summit that took place in St. Petersburg on October 7.

The Tajik president’s official website reports that the meeting participants discussed issues related to further expansion of multifaceted cooperation between the CIS member nations and the agenda of the upcoming meeting of the Council of the Heads of State of the Commonwealth of Independent States that will take place in Astana, Kazakhstan this week.

They reportedly also exchanged views on a number of regional and international issues being of mutual interest.

The Kremlin says that speaking at the meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “I am very glad to see here, in this room, leaders representing countries that, considering a plethora of reasons and historical factors, are our closest friends, allies, and with whom we share a genuine strategic partnership. We are committed to working together in the spirit of good neighborliness, mutual benefit and respect for each other’s interests.”

“Today, we have an opportunity to make sure that we are on the same page ahead of the annual meeting of the CIS Heads of State Council to be held next week in Astana.  As its chair, Kazakhstan focused its agenda on major topics related to political, economic and humanitarian integration.  As usual, a solid package of joint documents is being drafted for our approval,” Russian leader noted.

Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov did not attend the meeting.  Some sources note that although no official reason has been given, on October 4 Putin signed a decree awarding Tajik President Emomali Rahmon the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 3rd class, for strengthening the Russia-Tajikistan strategic partnership and “ensuring regional stability and security.”  Kyrgyz authorities made clear their displeasure at the award.