Officials are giving Tajikistan a flashy makeover to mark the country’s 20th anniversary of independence. But with vast numbers living in poverty, and with the government unable to provide basic social services, critics say the spending spree is an extravagance that the former Soviet Union’s poorest country can't afford.
The September 9 independence celebration coincides with Dushanbe’s turn to host the annual summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States, an ineffectual club of former Soviet countries. The summit is scheduled for September 2-3 in Dushanbe. Several notables – including Uzbekistan’s Islam Karimov and Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev – reportedly will not be attending.
Concerning the Tajik capital’s makeover, local observers, of course, are asking: where is all the money for the changes coming from? For most construction projects, the cost is a strictly guarded secret.
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