Date: Thu, 9 Oct 1997 01:24:43 LCL
Article Id: fbuma10271997000219
Title: Tajikistan: Part of Uzbek Military Leadership Backs Tajik Opposition
Document Number: FBIS-UMA-97-300
Part of Uzbek Military Leadership Backs Tajik Opposition
Article from Itar-Tass, 27 October 1997
DUSHANBE, October 27 (Itar-Tass) -- An associate of Rebel colonel Khudoberdiyev's associate, who has surrendered to the authorities, has testified that the Tajik anti-government forces were being backed by a part of the Uzbek military leadership.
Former deputy head of the administration of the southern Khatlon Region Kasim Babayev, who was among the closest associates of colonel Khudoberdiyev, voluntarily surrendered to the authorities a few days ago and is now being questioned at the Tajik Security Ministry. Itar-Tass got a chance to see a videofilm of the interrogation today.
Babayev does not think that the former rebel colonel was backed by official Tashkent. However, he claims that "there are some people among the Uzbek military, who appreciated Khudoberdiyev and gave him all-round backing". Explaining his "enlightenment", Babayev said that he had learned new facts concerning the attempts to organise military coups both in January-February 1996 and in August 1997, and about "the backing given to those rebellions by individual forces in neighbouring Uzbekistan". Babayev saw how couriers from Uzbekistan paid frequent visits to Khudoberdiyev's brigade. During the rebellion, Khudoberdiyev's brother, Ergash, brought ammunition to the territory of Uzbekistan.
According to Babayev, Ergash, together with a dozen other closest associates of Khudoberdiyev, fled to neighbouring Uzbekistan when the government forces routed the rebels. He stayed there in the frontier zone together with several of Khudoberdiyev's field commanders until October 20, 1997.
"I was also surprised by the relative ease with which dozens of men from Khudoberdiyev's entourage, including myself, crossed the Uzbek border via the South Shartuz sector after the defeat of the rebels. I witnessed how Uzbek borderguard officers agreed to let us through, but asked us not to stay long on the territory of Uzbekistan and to proceed promptly to the northern part of Tajikistan, because they did not get any official permission to let us and our supporters into the country," he stated.
"I hereby testify that dozens of Khudoberdiyev's men are now on the territory of the neighbouring republic. Therefore, quite strange-sounding are the denials, claiming that not a single Tajik rebel had crossed the Uzbek border." This statement by Babayev was video recorded during the interrogation.