14 july 2020

Central Asia news

Scandal with the Czech military delegation's transit from Afghanistan via Turkmenistan fomented a diplomatic conflict between Ashkhabad and Prague

04.12.2006 13:28 msk

Fyodor Lukianov (Rossiiskaya Gazeta)


The TU-154 with the Czech military delegation was returning from Afghanistan where several dozens servicemen of the Czech national army participate in the NATO peacekeeping mission. The plane needed a stopover in Ashkhabad, the capital of Turkmenistan, for refuelling. The Czechs even had a special permit from the local authorities.

What happened in Ashkhabad, however, was something nobody had expected. Claiming that the plane was carrying weapons (it did), the Turkmen authorities annulled the permit and all but arrested the Czech board, denying it the permit to takeoff. The passengers were even denied the permission to leave the plane.

The delegation in the meantime included some senior military and civilian officials of the Czech Republic - Chief of the General Staff Pavel Stefka, Jan Vidim of the parliamentary Defense and Security Committee, and others. Delay of the departure resulted in a bona fide struggle for the plane.

There is no saying how long the Czechs would have spent in the Turkmen captivity were it not for the Turkmen leader Saparmurat Niyazov. The Czech Embassy in Moscow was informed that the plane was permitted to depart on the Turkmenbashi's personal order.

Fyodor Lukianov, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, December 4, 2006, p. 3

© Translated by Ferghana.Ru