The lower house of Tajikistan's parliament approved the ratification of the deal to extend the presence of Russia's military base through 2042. It now only awaits approval by the upper house of parliament, the last step in a process that started a year ago today when the two countries' presidents signed the base extension deal. Rahmon appears to have dragged out the process of ratification, probably trying to get a better deal. That doesn't seem to have happened, though.
The ratification passed easily, by a 57-2 vote, and Tajikistan officials said the deal would help protect Tajikistan. MP Sukhrob Sharipov said the deal would ensure security "not only in Tajikistan but in the region as a whole." And defense minister Sherali Khayrulloyev pointed out that Russia has provided Tajikistan with over $400 million in military aid since 2005.
But there were some dissenting voices. The banned Islamist group Jamaat Ansarullah has come out against the base presence as a whole. Aminyat Abdulnazarov, the deputy head of the Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan, said that the presence of the base weakened Tajikistan's sovereignty. "After the pressure applied by Russia, the parliament had no choice but to ratify the agreement," he said. And the presidential candidate of the united opposition in Tajikistan, Oynikhol Bobonazarova, said the measure should have been discussed more thoroughly in the country, and that the length of the agreement was too long. “It would have been better had the term been extended for ten years, with the right to extend it in the future,” she said, but added that “any step leading toward the preservation of stability and peace in Tajikistan and in the region as a whole, deserves support.”
But as a whole, as Bobonazarova said, debate in Tajikistan has been pretty muted for a deal that's going to mean 29 more years of Russian military presence there.