Demonstrating his hands-on management style, Tajikistan’s president donned a hardhat earlier this month, clambered into a bulldozer and pushed rocks into the Vakhsh River to get work started on what is slated to become the world’s highest dam.
The public relations exercise was intended to cast Emomali Rahmon as a practical man of action. But it also marked a major stride toward finally building the Rogun hydropower plant — a project that could, when completed, solve Tajikistan’s electricity shortage woes and turn the country into a net power exporter.
In the past, Rahmon’s actions would have quickly drawn an angry reaction from neighboring Uzbekistan, which lies downstream from the dam. But these days it is a different story. Instead of stamping their feet, officials in Tashkent are maintaining a studied silence, to many observers’ astonishment.
To read the full story
Peter Leonard is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.