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    NUREK AGREEMENTS TO KEEP RUSSIAN SPACE TROOPS ASSURED FOR HALF-CENTURY: DEFENSE MINISTER

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    DUSHANBE, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - Tajikistan is ceding the Nurek space-monitoring optic electronic centre to Russia. Relevant agreements are to be signed today, and will allow the Russian Space Troops to feel quite assured for the next fifty years, says Sergei Ivanov, Russia's Defense Minister.

    The Nurek is an essential military project, so the matter demanded long negotiations, he added.

    The agreement will help to settle all mutual obligations, in particular, Tajik debts to Russia, pointed out the minister.

    A major Russian military base will be established in Tajikistan, with a contingent of five thousand. Russia will receive the site and all immovable property in it free, to be rented for 49 years at a symbolical 39 cents. The same concerns the Nurek center, said Mr. Ivanov.

    The documents for signing mean that an understanding made by Presidents Vladimir Putin and Emomali Rakhmonov during their recent summitry in Sochi will be fully implemented, says Sergei Lavrov, Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs.

    Tajikistan will host a major military exercise of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, due next year's first half, added Sergei Ivanov, who is accompanying President Putin on his visit to Tajikistan.

    "We shall have big CSTO war exercises in Tajikistan, first half-year 2005, on a par with what we recently had in Kyrgyzstan," said the Defense Minister.

    The Collective Security Treaty Organization brings together six post-Soviet countries: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.

    A reporter asked Mr. Ivanov about the personnel of the prospective Russian base in Tajikistan.

    "In fact, the entire [Tajik-stationed] 201st Division will make that base. It will necessarily have air support, to be stationed at the Aini airfield, twenty kilometers off Dushanbe. The base will have four or five fighter planes, and several helicopters.

    "The Russian military base in Tajikistan will spectacularly promote regional stability and security," replied the minister.

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