Russia has been warning Tajikistan that the U.S. wants to overthrow President Emomali Rakhmon for the sake of eliminating Russian influence in the country and creating "a string of anti-Russia military bases from Baghram to Manas." That's according to a U.S. State Department cable just released by WikiLeaks. It recounts a conversation with then-U.S. ambassador to Tajikistan Richard Hoagland and Tajikistan's ambassador to Washington, Homrahon Zaripov, who was back home in Dushanbe at the time.
(In the cable Hoagland asks that Zaripov's identity be "strictly protected throughout," and noted that he only spoke candidly when a Foreign Ministry notetaker was not present. This seems to be a case where WikiLeaks has dropped the ball in its promise to protect sources. And assuming that the interested intelligence agencies are reading the raw WikiLeaks files and not The Bug Pit, I guess there is no further harm I can do by identifying Zaripov here.)
The cable is from 2005, and is part of a series that Hoagland wrote on U.S.-Tajikistan relations. (A couple have already come out, including one where Rakhmon complained about excessive Russian military influence in the country.) But this goes further in describing a U.S.-sympathizing insider's view of what Russia sees in Tajikistan:
He [Zaripov] volunteered that President Rahmonov is subject to a drumbeat of anti-U.S. attacks from the Ministry of Security prodded by Moscow - not only from Russian mass media (ref B), but also from the Russian-dominated Tajik Ministry of Security. Zaripov said the message from Moscow, especially via the Ministry of Security, is that the United States wants to overthrow Rahmonov, kick the Russians out of their military base, and expand U.S. influence from Afghanistan into Tajikistan as a link to "U.S.-dominated Kyrgyzstan." The U.S. goal in this scenario is "a string of anti-Russia military bases from Baghram to Manas."
This is, of course, before the relatively West-friendly Dmitry Medvedev came to power in Moscow and the Obama administration's "reset" with Russia, so it's worth wondering if this attitude still pervades. A more recent cable, from February 2010, describes deteriorating Russia-Tajikistan relations, but doesn't much touch on Russia's perception of what the U.S. is doing in Tajikistan.