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Iran Denies Subversive Role In Tajikstan

Abduhalim Nazarzoda, former deputy of Tajik defense minister Undated

Iran’s Embassy in Dushanbeh has denied that Tehran played a negative role in Tajikistan’s civil war in the 1990s.

In a press release published on Wednesday, August 9, the Embassy dismissed “the allegations” raised in a 45-minute documentary aired by the Tajik state TV as “an attempt to foment discord between the two countries.”

In the 45-minute documentary broadcast on Tajik state television on Tuesday, the Interior Ministry claimed that Tehran was interested in fomenting civil war in Tajikistan and provided financial assistance to the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) and trained militants linked to the party on Iranian soil.

According to the ministry, Iranian financial support and instructions to carry out assassinations were conveyed to IRPT militants through Abdulhalim Nazarzoda, a former deputy defense minister who was one of the Islamic opposition party's commanders in the 1990s. Nazarzoda was killed in September 2015 during an anti-coup operation near the Tajik capital Dushanbe.

Several Tajik public figures -- Mohammad Aseemi, a professor; Yusuf Isaki, a doctor; novelist Saif Afardi; presidential political adviser Karim Yuldashev; and a former grand mufti of Tajikistan -- were killed between 1997 and 2004, as were 20 Russian officers.

In the documentary, a man who identified himself as a former Islamic opposition fighter said that he traveled to Iran in 1995 and received sabotage training along with 200 compatriots in the city of Qom. He said he returned to Tajikistan in 1997 with clear instructions to kill political and public figures.

Tajik civil war - Fighters on a tank in Dushanbe
Tajik civil war - Fighters on a tank in Dushanbe

There is no way to immediately verify the man's identity or the authenticity of his statement. Documentaries on state TV are sometimes used in former Soviet republics to make accusations against government critics or opponents.

“The claims are raised by sentenced confessors and quoted from people who are no longer alive, and thus cannot be of any validity,” reads a statement released on Wednesday by Iranian embassy in Dushanbeh.

Iran and Russia acted as mediators in the negotiation process that ended the five-year civil war in 1997.

Ties between the two nations, both Persian speaking and predominantly Muslim, have been strained since Tehran accused Dushanbeh of not cooperating to trace billions of dollars allegedly deposited by Iranian businessman, Babak Zanjani in Tajikistan.

Babk Zanjani has been sentenced to death for financial corruption.

Meanwhile, the IRPT’s leader, Mohyeddin Kabiri visits to Iran and his meeting last year with the Supreme Leader, ayatollah Ali Khamenei, brought angry responses from Dushanbeh.

Dushanbeh has recently banned the distribution of the books compiled by the founder of the Islamic Republic, ayatollah Khomeini and asked Tehran to close down its cultural centers in Tajikistan, since they were not needed there.

The relation between the two countries is so strained that Tajikistan is the only member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that has blocked Iran’s way to join the Eurasian organization.