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Mukhabbat Saidova, a political scientist at Tajikistan Media Alliance, a union of journalists in Dushanbe, said Russia didn’t comment on the conflict between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, “but we all realize that the sudden concession by Uzbekistan could not be possible without pressure from Moscow.”

Analysts say the issue demonstrates Tajikistan’s reliance on Russia in disputes with its neighbors, noting that Dushanbe now is lobbying Moscow to drop duties on oil exports to Tajikistan.

Yet relations between Russia and Tajikistan have been rocky recently.

In November, a Tajik court confiscated two Russian cargo planes and sentenced their pilots to 8½ years in prison for smuggling and illegally crossing state borders.

The pilots, a Russian and an Estonian, were arrested after making an unscheduled refueling stop in Tajikistan on a return flight from Afghanistan.

A fragile future

The pair were soon released, but their arrest, shortly before the renewal of the lease on Russia’s garrisons, angered Moscow and sparked a crackdown on Tajik labor migrants in Russia.

Hundreds of Tajik migrant workers were detained and many deported, while Russia’s public health chief threatened to bar all Tajik migrants from entering Russia, citing concerns they were spreading disease.

Tajikistan’s economy depends heavily on the $3 billion in remittances that about 1 million Tajik migrants send home each year — accounting for 45 percent of the country’s GDP.

Still, most Tajiks see Russia, which backed Mr. Rahmon in the 1992-1997 civil war that left up to 100,000 dead, as an important ally.

Analysts say that a cooling of relations between Russia and Tajikistan is likely to undermine confidence in the president, who has held power for 20 years in the post-Soviet era.

“If Russia will no longer accept our migrants, we will return home and sweep away Rahmon immediately,” said Firdaws, 23, a Tajik migrant working in the Russian city of Saransk.

Peace and stability in Tajikistan are still fragile, as was demonstrated by fighting between opposition militants and security forces in late 2010 and early 2011.

And since the “Arab Spring,” some Tajiks, fed up of dismal living conditions and their president’s unchallenged power, have been using social networks to call for revolution.

“[The Tajik authorities] are rich because we are poor,” said Dushanbe resident Akhmadali, 19. “They don’t care about us. We do not have normal education, medical aid and jobs but they have palaces and brand new cars.”