A soldier at the Russian military base in Tajikistan is suspected by police of murdering a Tajik citizen in an occurrence with apparent echoes of another killing in the country last year.
State news agency Khovar reported on November 10 that Tajik and Russian law enforcement officers jointly detained the suspect. Officials have said the killing took place on the grounds of the Russian military base in the capital, Dushanbe.
The Russian Defense Ministry is dispatching a Central Military District commission to investigate the circumstances that led to the suspected killing.
Khovar named the suspect as Ivan Scherbakov, a senior lieutenant with the 201st Russian military base, and the victim as Shoira Jabborova.
Scherbakov told investigators that he had no memory of the events of which he stands accused as he was heavily intoxicated at the time, Khovar reported.
Tajikistan’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador in Dushanbe to express its concern over the case.
“In the meeting, the ambassador was informed that these events are not in conformity with the spirit of traditional friendship and strategic partnership between our two nations,” the ministry said in an emailed statement.
The Foreign Ministry said it demanded that Russia objectively assess the incident and take necessary measures to avoid such acts being committed by Russian military personnel.
The fate of the accused will be watched closely, since murders committed by Russian soldiers have in the past led — not only in Tajikistan — to disputes about jurisdiction.
In August 2014, two Russian soldiers slashed the throat of a taxi driver in Tajikistan and later dumped his body near a lake. After they were arrested, Fyodor Basimov and Ildar Sakhapov, were transferred to Moscow for psychological evaluation, a move that stoked concerns with the victim’s family that the Russian military were trying to spare the killers facing justice in Tajikistan.
Basimov and Sakhapov were, however, subsequently returned to Tajikistan and eventually received jail sentences of 17 years and 13 years respectively.
Even greater controversy was sparked in Armenia, where Russian solider Valery Permyakov in January murdered seven members of a local family, including a six-month old baby. After much wrangling between Moscow and Yerevan, the solider was ultimately transferred to the Armenian legal system, although he has also faced separate trials before a Russian military court.