Russia launches construction of major power plant in Tajikistan

Tajik and Russian officials on Monday launched construction of a major power plant in the impoverished ex-Soviet republic.

The more than US$1 billion (Ђ830 million) project to build the Rogun hydroelectric power plant on the Vakhsh river 120 kilometers (74 miles) east of the capital, Dushanbe, is funded by Russia's main aluminum maker, Rusal.

The first phase of the construction that envisages building a 225-meter (738-feet) dam and installing two 500-megawatt power generators will be completed by 2009, Rusal's project manager Oleg Lupachev said. In April, Russia began construction of another major power plant, one of a complex of two power stations also on the Vakhsh river, under a joint US$520 million (Ђ431 million) project with Iran, according to the AP.

The construction of the Rogun and Sangtuda power stations _ the country's largest energy projects _ was interrupted by a civil war that broke out in Tajikistan in 1992. The war between the Moscow-backed secular government and the Islamic opposition ended with a power-sharing agreement in 1997.

The completion of new power plants will allow Tajikistan to satisfy its own energy demands and sell electricity to neighboring countries. AM

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