DUSHANBE, February 23, 2012, Asia-Plus -- On Wednesday February 22, Russia’s upper house (Federation Council) the Russian-Tajik agreement on border cooperation issues.  This agreement was President Emomali Rahmon and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in Dushanbe on September 2, 2011.

The agreement reportedly provides for keeping Russia’s presence in Tajikistan through the group of the border-guard cooperation of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in Tajikistan, participation of Russian representatives in improving the border control system and ensuring border security of Tajikistan, training of personnel for Tajik border service as well as cooperation in countering terrorism, religious extremism, illegal migration and transnational organized crime.

According to Itar-Tass, earlier, deputy chief of Russia''s Border Service, Federal Security Service, Nikolai Kozik noted that the ratification of the agreement would provide for protecting Russian interests in the post-Soviet space, maintaining prestige in security issues, and timely rebuffing the existing threats together with Tajik services.

Among these threats is a considerable increase in drug trafficking across the Afghan-Tajik border to Russia and Eastern Europe.  Kozik pointed out that whereas areas under drug crops in Afghanistan made up 8,000 hectares in 2001, they increased to 120,000 hectares in 2011.  According to the deputy head of the Russian Border Service, the Russian group of border guards comprises some 200 persons.  Russian specialists provide methodological assistance in training Tajik border guards and planning Tajik secret services'' operations.

Meanwhile, in a statement released on December 9, Tajik border service notes that under the new agreement, the body of advisers within the group of the border-guard cooperation of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in Tajikistan was abolished.  “At present, Russian border officers are serving in Tajikistan as consultants and teachers at the Higher Border Guard Service School in Dushanbe without trip to the border lines.”

We will recall that Tajik and Russian border guards discussed a new draft agreement on the border-control cooperation issues last year.

When Russian border guards left Tajikistan in 2005 the two sides signed a five-year cooperation agreement that has expired this year.

Russian border guards controlled the Tajik-Afghan border for more than 100 years before handing over responsibility to their Tajik colleagues in 2005.  But Russian boarder-guard advisers continue to be deployed in Tajikistan.

Negotiations that were conducted between Tajik and Russian border services last year focused on the status and tasks of those Russian border-guard advisers.