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Russian, Tajik Presidents Unveil Joint-Venture Power Plant

The Sangtuda-1 hydropower plant on the river Vakhsh30Jul2009
The Sangtuda-1 hydropower plant on the river Vakhsh30Jul2009
SANGTUDA, Tajikistan -- Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev have officially unveiled the fourth and last facility of the Sangtuda-1 Hydropower Plant, 160 kilometers south of the Tajik capital, Dushanbe.

The two leaders said the power plant is the most important project completed by the countries in the last 20 years.

The Kremlin and Russian companies invested some $500 million in Sangtuda-1 and own some 75 percent of its shares.

The main consumer of the energy from Sangtuda-1 is Tajik power company Barqi Tojik. The Russian management of the power plant has said several times in recent months that Barqi Tojik has not paid for the energy it uses and that the company’s debt is in the millions of dollars.

The Tajik side acknowledges the debt but says it cannot pay as companies and other consumers are not paying their energy bills.

Rahmon and Medvedev met privately on July 30 after holding a four-way summit with the Afghan and Pakistani presidents, Hamid Karzai and Asif Ali Zardari, respectively.

One topic at the summit was the export of electricity -- including from Sangtuda-1 -- from Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

After the meeting, Medvedev’s spokesman Sergei Prikhodko said that Tajikistan's explanation of a new draft law on the state language guarantees that the Russian language is not threatened. Moscow had been concerned that the language law would marginalize the Russian language.

Prikhodko also said both sides agreed to develop "equal military cooperation." Some reports say Tajikistan wants Moscow to pay for its three military bases in Tajikistan, located in Dushanbe, Kulob, and Qurghon-Teppa.