DUSHANBE, July 30, 2015, Asia-Plus – Servicemen of the Russian military deployed in Tajikistan do not enjoy judicial impunity, an official source at the Tajik Ministry of Defense (MoD) told Asia-Plus in an interview, commenting on a July 28 incident in the Tajik southern city of Kulob.

“According to agreements reached between the two countries, servicemen of the Russian military base deployed in Tajikistan committing crime in Tajikistan fall under the jurisdiction of Tajikistan’s legislation and criminal proceedings are instituted against them by relevant Tajik bodies,” the source said.

“On completion of investigation the criminal case is handed over to the relevant bodies of the Russian side and they must to inform the Tajik side of the decision they made,” the source noted.

He further added that a criminal investigation had been launched into the July 28 incident and “Tajik law enforcement authorities are investigating the case.”

We will recall that Radio Liberty’ Tajik Service reported on July 29 that a group of drunken Russian soldiers in their underwear brawled in the street overnight with local Tajik men who had confronted them about their raucous behavior.  Witnesses reportedly say several of the Tajik men were injured in the street fight late on July 28 in the city of Kulob.

Jamshed, a Kulob resident who witnessed the violence and asked that his last name not be published, said the fight broke out after seven drunken Russian soldiers who had stripped down to their underwear began dancing, singing, and "yelling loudly" in a residential area of the city center.

“Local men asked the soldiers to return to their base but the Russians didn''t listen and argued with them,” Jamshed said. “The scuffle broke out and several other soldiers came from the military base to help their comrades.”

Police were called to the scene and an official from a law enforcement agency in Kulob told RFE/RL''s Tajik Service on condition of anonymity that a criminal investigation has been launched into the case.

According to RFE/RL’s Tajik Service, the presence of Russian soldiers has led to some tensions with local residents near the bases in the past.  In February, a Russian officer was charged with severely beating a waiter at a restaurant in Kulob.  In the summer of 2014, two Russian officers stationed at the 201st Motor Rifle Division''s facility in Dushanbe were arrested on suspicion of killing a Tajik man who lived in the capital.

The Russian military base deployed in Tajikistan is Russia''s largest non-naval military facility outside the country.  It was officially opened in Tajikistan in 2004 under a previous agreement, which was signed in 1993, and hosts Russia’s largest military contingent deployed abroad.

A total of some 7,000 Russian troops are stationed at three military facilities collectively known as the 201st military base - in Dushanbe, Qurghon Teppa, some 100 kilometers from Dushanbe, and Kulob, about 200 kilometers southwest of Dushanbe.

Under an agreement signed in October 2012, Russian troops are allowed to remain stationed in Tajikistan until 2042.