Tajikistan, the poorest country to emerge from the Soviet Union, has one economic asset of note – Talco, an aluminum smelter that, in a good year, pulls in hundreds of millions of dollars. For years, the state-owned company has been notoriously non-transparent. Now, a seven-year legal battle with the world’s largest aluminum maker, Russia’s Rusal, has produced court and bank records that reinforce suspicions that Talco’s profits have benefitted relatives of the Central Asian country’s president.
In a region where nepotism is more the rule than an exception, this news is unlikely to cause outrage among Tajiks. But the legal proceedings show how difficult it can be to hide sensitive information in a globalized financial world. And, spun the right way, the revelations could give Moscow a new lever of geopolitical influence over Dushanbe.
State Money for Private Planes
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David Trilling is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.