Central Asian Leaders Offer Support, Condolences to Putin After Dagestan Attack

Several leaders in Central Asia have spoken by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin and expressed their condolences after attacks by alleged Islamic militants in the Russian area of Dagestan killed about 20 people. 

The quick expressions of support on Monday reflect longstanding security ties between Russia and Central Asian countries, as well as growing concerns about extremist attacks in the region, particularly following the March 22 assault on the Crocus City concert hall in the Moscow area that killed more than 140 people. The violence in Russia on Sunday happened in two cities in a mostly Muslim region of the North Caucasus and targeted police and places of worship. 

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said in his conversation with Putin that Uzbekistan was ready “to continue active cooperation between the relevant structures in the fight against common threats in the field of security,” according to a statement by Mirziyoyev. The two leaders also discussed implementation of agreements reached during a visit by Putin to Uzbekistan on May 26-28. 

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev made similar remarks in a call with Putin, saying Kazakhstan “condemns any assassination and evil attempt on the lives of civilians and regards it as a great threat to international and regional security,” Tokayev’s office reported. It said the two presidents talked about strengthening their “strategic partnership” and discussed the agenda of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, to be held in the Kazakh capital of Astana on July 3-4. 

Tajikistan’s leader Emomali Rahmon sent a message expressing “a feeling of deep sadness” and pledges of collaboration on security issues to Putin, saying his country had been fighting terrorism for decades.

“Tajikistan, which has been fighting against all forms of terrorism for more than 30 years, strongly condemns this inhuman act of violence in Dagestan and advocates active cooperation in the fight against terrorism,” Rahmon said

Kyrgyzstan’s leader, Sadyr Japarov, who left Bishkek on Monday on an official trip to Belgium, also expressed solidarity with Russia. 

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the March 22 attack in suburban Moscow and several Tajik suspects were arrested, leading to some harassment and increased scrutiny of many Central Asian migrants who travel to Russia in hopes of finding work. The situation fueled diplomatic tension between Russia and some Central Asian countries, though their leaders have worked to stabilize relations. 

Putin blamed battlefield adversary Ukraine for the March 22 attack, but he didn’t offer evidence and Kyiv denied the allegation.