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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tajik Leader Calls for Fewer Russian Troops

The Tajik opposition wants to scale down Russian troop presence in the Central Asian republic but is not asking for a full Russian pullout, an opposition leader said.

Akbar Turadzhonzodah spoke Saturday, a day after the opposition signed a peace pact in Moscow with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov, moving to end a civil war that has killed nearly 50,000 in Tajikistan.

Russia has 25,000 troops in Tajikistan -- its biggest foreign deployment -- propping up Rakhmonov's government and guarding the border with Afghanistan.

Turadzhonzodah said at a Moscow news conference that the opposition is all for "strengthening the border defense with the participation of Russia'' and other former Soviet republics.

But he said the opposition wants fewer Russian servicemen in the republic, and wants them stationed "in certain military towns rather than in Tajik towns where problems are already numerous,'' according to Interfax.

Dozens of Russian soldiers and officers have died in attacks by extremists in the Tajik capital Dushanbe and elsewhere in Tajikistan.

Meanwhile, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov addressed a pro-peace rally in Dushanbe on Saturday.

"If somebody acts against the existing agreements, he will be considered an enemy of the people, an enemy of the nation,'' Rakhmonov warned in his speech, cited by Interfax.

The package of agreements signed Friday includes calls for the return of 20,000 Tajik refugees from Afghanistan and the release of prisoners of war.