Russia Opens Power Plant in Tajikistan

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan -- Russia opened a new production facility at its hydroelectric plant in Tajikistan on Wednesday to help the impoverished Central Asian nation cope with expected energy shortages.

Millions of Tajiks struggled to survive without heating and electricity in their homes last winter as temperatures plunged to below minus 20 degrees Celsius across the mountainous nation north of Afghanistan.

An energy deficit could also hurt Tajikistan's electricity-heavy aluminum production, which accounts for 75 percent of its hard currency earnings.

Tajik leader Imomali Rakhmon said the new units would allow Tajiks to use electricity for at least eight hours a day this winter, compared to just four hours a day last year.

The entire Sangtuda project, where Russia is due to construct one more production unit, costs $720 million.