DUSHANBE / MOSCOW, April 16 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin criticized trains that come to Russia from the Central Asian state of Tajikistan for being badly maintained, but stressed that so far there was no need to bar those trains from entering Russia.
Rogozin, who also heads the state border commission, inspected a train en route to Moscow from the Tajik capital of Dushanbe on Monday along with Russia’s chief sanitary official Gennady Onishchenko. After the check, he said “something should be done” about those trains that he sees as “unfit for transporting people.” Onishchenko, in his turn, said that trains that do not correspond with the Russian sanitary standards should not be allowed to cross the border.
Later Rogozin he added that such trains should “never be allowed into Russia,” because they pose “a serious threat to the sanitary health of the whole nation.”
Deputy head of the Russian Border Guard Service, Vladimir Mochalov, suggested banning entry to Russia to Tajik trains, saying, among other things, that they are being “systematically used by drug traffickers to smuggle drugs.”
Commenting on the statement, Rogozin said that the state border commission “does not support radical proposals” and is convinced that such bilateral issues should be approached “with in the spirit of partnership, but also with respect to the Russian legislation.”
Rogozin added that the emphasis should be placed not on bans, but on “measures to control this type of rail communications, first of all, to control sanitary norms of transport and goods that cross the Russian border.”
Later in the day, Russian border officials also criticized the current border rules for Tajik citizens who are allowed to enter Russia with internal passports. Mochalov described Tajik domestic passports as not having the required security features and not compatible with Russian automated control systems.
The wave of criticism by Russian officials coincides with Dushanbe’s attempts to re-negotiate terms for the lease for a Russian military base in the country. The deal was signed last October but has not yet been ratified by the country’s parliament.
Trains remain a popular and relatively cheap means of transport for migrant workers from the Central Asian state to Russia. Currently, about one million of Tajiks are legally employed in the country, according to the Federal Migration Service statistics.
Managers of the Tajik Railways said the company was not yet ready to comment on as it wants to inspect the trains first. “We will wait for the train and its crew to return to Dushanbe, to explore this issue here,” Tajik Railways first deputy chief Vladimir Sobkalov said.