This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index
BBC Learning English Launch BBC Media Player
  • Help
  • Text only
You are in:Learning English > News English > Words in the News
Learning English - Words in the News
15 November, 2004 - Published 13:17 GMT
Russian army leaves Pamir Valley
Valley in Pamir

In an historic moment, the first Russian army officers have left their post in the Pamir Mountains, that tower above Central Asia and northern Afghanistan. After more than 100 years of rule the Russians are handing over power to the Tajik military. This report from Monica Whitlock:

Listen to the story

The Pamir is one of the highest mountain ranges on earth -- the point where Central Asia and Afghanistan rise to meet China and Pakistan among a mass of peaks and glaciers. The Russians struggled their way up the Pamir in Czarist times, needing a watchtower above Asia, and have been there ever since. Now, the first officers have stepped down at the Tajik-Afghan border post of Ishkashim, by agreement with both governments. It's part of a staged withdrawal of all Russian border forces from Tajikistan due to be complete next year.

Some Tajiks are delighted to take charge of their own frontiers at last, but others are disconcerted -- they find it hard to image the Pamir without the Russian flag, and they worry that local bandits will flourish, especially heroin smugglers doing cross-border trade with Afghanistan. Many Russians are also unhappy -- they feel they're being pushed out of a land they see as their backyard, and losing a vantage point they've held for generations.

Monica Whitlock, BBC, Tashkent

Listen to the words

Mountain ranges
Group of mountains or hills

Large mass of ice which moves slowly down a mountain valley

High tower used for guarding a place

Stepped down
Leave job or official position

Something done in stages

Confused or worried

Someone who robs people, especially one group of people who attack travellers

To grow well

Vantage point
A good position from which you can see something

Other Stories