Most Tajiks are interested in President Putin being in power for as long as possible.
Akbar Abdujabbar (Khudzhand)
The formation and development of relations between post-Soviet Tajikistan and Russia has never been a simple and straightforward process. They were especially difficult in the 90s. The difficulties and problems constantly arising at that time were, in many respects, caused by the difference in the nature and pace of the post-Soviet states. In Russia, throughout the 90s, a model of building a liberal-democratic state was implemented. In Tajikistan, as in most countries to the south of Russia, the course of creating a national state was clearly and consistently pursued in the framework of the implementation of the national-revival model.
The multi-vector development of the processes of building the post-Soviet states, Russian and Tajik, was one of the most significant factors that did not allow relations between the two countries to go beyond merely military-political cooperation.
The situation began to improve somewhat after the actual failure of the country's development in the framework of the liberal-democratic model. Awareness by the majority of Russians of the fact that their country is moving in the direction of not entirely meeting its national interests was transformed into corresponding political processes, which led to a definite change in the distribution of political forces in Russia not in favor of the liberal democrats. It found its practical embodiment in their defeat in the Duma elections of 1995, the secondary coming to power of Yevgeny Primakov and the political forces behind him. At this time, Tajikistan’s ongoing efforts to diversify bilateral relations began to find increasing understanding in the Russian establishment. However, this process did not receive due development.
The process of getting out of the situation when military-political cooperation absolutely dominated in the Russian-Tajik (Tajik-Russian) relations began to develop in earnest only after President Vladimir Putin came to power in Russia. The political reforms he carried out contributed to the formation in Russia of such a system of power that was not compatible with the former liberal democratic prejudice to the development of diversified relations with the countries of Central Asia, in general, and Tajikistan, in particular.
The new system of power built by President Putin has allowed to start developing serious economic cooperation between Russia and Tajikistan at the state level. She also allowed him to successfully solve the task of convincing major Russian entrepreneurs in the need to invest, in the national interests of their own country, funds in economic projects in Tajikistan.
In this regard, the agreements reached during the meeting of the leaders of the two states in Sochi in June 2004 and the signing of the relevant agreements during the Dushanbe summit in October of the same year were breakthroughs for the development of bilateral relations and for the diversification of cooperation between the two countries.
In Sochi, Russia's intention was officially designated to actively promote the development of economic relations with Tajikistan through participation, above all, in completing the construction of the largest energy facilities. The process of determining the conditions for the continuation of cooperation between the two countries in the military sphere was also completed there. Fundamental decisions were made related to the creation of a Russian base, and the terms of the stay of Russian border guards in Tajikistan were determined. The parties came to a consensus on the problem of the 300 million Tajik debt of Russia, the essence of which was as follows. Of this amount, $ 250 million is “exchanged” for transferring the OKNO space observation complex located in Tajikistan, and the remaining $ 50 million are transformed into shares of energy facilities (hydropower plants), to which the Russian side has shown interest .
At the heart of the Tajik-Russian agreements in the military sphere is the mutual interest of the parties in the military presence of Russia in Tajikistan. For Tajikistan, it is predetermined by the fact that external threats to the republic can proceed from various directions. And in conditions when the republic has limited military and economic opportunities to neutralize them, the Russian military presence becomes an important factor in deterring possible hostile inclinations from the outside. For Russia, the importance of a military-political presence in Tajikistan is conditioned by the need to ensure its strategic national objectives in the vast region south of its borders.
In Dushanbe, 15 agreements were signed. The most important of them were agreements on preserving the Russian military base in Tajikistan, investing more than $ 2 billion by the Russian side in building the Santudinskaya HPP-1, Rogun hydropower plant, upgrading the Tajik aluminum plant, building a new aluminum plant in the south of the country, improving the situation of Tajik labor migrants in Russia.
Summarizing all the above, it should be emphasized that today the Tajik-Russian relations are distinguished by the balance of their components. It was achieved, firstly, due to the transformation of the former 201st motorized rifle division into the base of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and the changing nature of the presence of Russian border guards in the Republic of Tajikistan. From now on, they are not directly responsible for border security. At the same time, they participate in its protection as advisers. Secondly, due to a sharp increase in the participation of the Russian side in the development of the national economy of Tajikistan.
Prospects for the development of Tajik-Russian multi-faceted cooperation so far look good. However, it is not possible to turn a blind eye to the presence of problems in them. So, for example, the implementation of economic agreements and agreements mentioned above is proceeding with great difficulty. In particular, the problem of the practical resumption of the construction of the Rogun hydropower station is not solved at all. According to Tajik experts, in front of a purely economic, it is turning into a political one, and they associate such a transformation with the change of Russia's political priorities in favor of Uzbekistan after the latter’s deterioration in relations with the United States and to the detriment of Tajikistan. Rustam Haydarov, a former employee of the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, and now an independent expert, pointing to this circumstance, calls for the republic to generally move to the preferential development of cooperation with Western countries and its structures, in particular, with the North Atlantic alliance.
In Tajik-Russian relations, there is another big potential problem - the “Putin factor”. Massive Russian investments in the Tajik economy, coupled with remittances from Tajik labor migrants from Russia, cause an excessively high degree of dependence of the economic and, consequently, social and political stability in the republic on the nature of relations between the two countries. As long as Russia is headed by President Putin, it is possible to predict with sufficient confidence the further development of the current positive trends in Tajik-Russian cooperation.
At the same time, such a strong dependence of these relations on this factor cannot but cause the emergence of well-founded fears about their future after 2008. They are related to the fact that in modern Russia, as experience shows, with the advent of a new leader, its relations with the countries of the former Soviet Union. And if, after 2008, Putin is replaced by a politician at the helm of power, whose ideological and political preferences will lie in a completely different plane, where there is a guarantee that Tajikistan in its relations with Russia will not face what it once faced in the 90s. last century?
That is why a large part of the Tajik public is interested in President Putin being in power in Russia as long as possible, because she is confident that only in this case can we hope for the successful completion of the implementation of the agreements signed in October 2004 on major economic investment projects.