Tajikistan's recent military base deal with Russia raised some eyebrows, especially since an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin crowed that they got the 30-year extension "almost for free." There was a lot of skeptical reaction in Tajikistan's blogosphere, as Global Voices reported. One sample:
Joking in front of media before any deals had been announced, Putin addressed Tajikistan's president (as quoted in Radio Ozodi): "I always knew that you were a wise person. You invited us on your birthday, enticed us, one could say, because you can't refuse anything on someone's birthday. Now we will have to sign anything you ask us to."
Reacting to Putin's joke, blogger Shukufa described this statement as an example of “oriental diplomacy”. She wrote: "What Rahmon should learn from Putin is diplomacy. It is spectacular how Putin today enticed Rahmon to sign the base deal on Russia's terms, while enabling [the Tajik leader] to save face and even claim that the terms had been dictated by Tajikistan."
But Tajikistan's opposition politicians aren't particularly opposed to the deal. The country's most significant opposition figure, Muhiddin Kabiri of the Islamic Renaissance Party said the deal was the lesser evil that could be expected. He said in principle he's against the presence of foreign military bases in Tajikistan...
"But I see the signing of the agreement on the prolongation of the Russian base as less harmful than the presence of bases of other governments in our country, as Russia already has more than 100 years of military presence in Tajikistan."
According to Asia Plus, Kabiri added that the entire deal, the duty-free petroleum products and aid to Tajikistan's security structures in the fight against drug trafficking, was "to the advantage of both parties." Unsurprisingly, the Communist Party also approved of the deal; it's leader enthused that "it represents proof that Russia is seriously mutually beneficial projects with its partners in the CIS."
Anyway, one could certainly quibble with either of these analyses, but the point is probably that it doesn't do any politician any good in Tajikistan to oppose Russia too strenuously.