Tajikistan on Thursday terminated a deal allowing Russia's RTR Planeta television channel to broadcast across the Central Asian nation.
RTR, whose broadcasts had been suspended last month over unpaid fees, was the only Russian channel available to the population of the former Soviet republic bordering Afghanistan.
"We are ending all negotiations aimed at restarting the broadcasts," Asadullo Rakhmonov, the head of Tajikistan's Television and Radio Committee, told reporters.
He said Russia's state-owned television company VGTRK, which runs RTR, had refused to pay $209,000 it owed in 2008 broadcasting fees.
"There is nothing political about it, just financial difficulties," Rakhmonov said.
Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon nearly cancelled a visit to Russia in February in a move analysts said was aimed at pressuring Moscow to increase financial support for the impoverished nation or risk losing a key ally in Central Asia.
Analysts say Tajikistan has been emboldened by heightened U.S. attention due to its strategic proximity to Afghanistan and wants to show Moscow it may consider alternative alliances if Russia did not show more commitment to its ties with Tajikistan.
Russia has for years promised to help the former Soviet nation finish building the Rogun hydro-electric power station, whose cost is estimated at up to $3.2 billion and which is central to Tajik efforts to gap domestic energy shortages.
But with the financial crisis deepening, the project is taking longer than planned. Analysts say worries about investment climate in Tajikistan have also stalled negotiations.
Tajikistan, which has little explored mineral resources, is also worried Russia has more strategic interest in its energy-rich Central Asian neighbours, such as Uzbekistan.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Nisan 2009, 16:50