September 11, 2015 / 1:21 PM / 3 years ago

Russia's Putin to offer help to crisis-hit Tajikistan on visit next week: Kremlin

Russia's President Vladimir Putin is seen on the Tiananmen Gate, at the beginning of the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015. REUTERS/cnsphoto

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Tajikistan next week where he will discuss what Moscow can do to help the Central Asian nation handle a recent bout of violence, the Kremlin’s top foreign policy aide said on Friday.

Bloody gun battles killed 22 people in Tajikistan this month, stoking fears of religious-related unrest in the impoverished ex-Soviet state, a close Russian ally.

Putin will visit the Tajik capital Dushanbe on Sept. 14-15 for talks with President Imomali Rakhmon, the Kremlin aide, Yuri Ushakov, told reporters.

“We are ready to provide assistance one way or another, as well as political support, and I think this matter will be one of the key ones during talks,” said Ushakov.

Asked if Russia could offer military assistance to Rakhmon, Ushakov said: “I don’t know in what way the discussion will develop.”

Moscow has a military base in Tajikistan and worries instability there could grow following the withdrawal of NATO troops from neighboring Afghanistan, or from conflict in the Middle East, where Islamic State has captured swaths of territory, spilling over.

Reporting by Denis Dyomkin; Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Andrew Osborn

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