Story Publication logo July 12, 2013

Tajikistan's Dream


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Tajikistan is chronically unstable and corrupt—and now bracing for more chaos from Afghanistan. Its...

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The main street in Rogun, a modest town that hopes to be home to the world’s tallest dam, a relatively narrow clay and stone “embankment” dam more than 1,000 feet high. Image by Joshua Kucera. Tajikistan, 2013.

The small town of Rogun resembles many other remote settlements in the former Soviet Union. Giant factories gone to rust and empty concrete apartment blocks, once brightly painted, now crumbling, achieve a sort of grandeur set against spectacular natural surroundings—the snowcapped peaks of the Alay Mountains and, about 1,500 feet down a steep bluff next to town, the rushing Vakhsh River. Yet, as a reminder of the past, and perhaps a portent of things to come, the occasional cement truck still chugs down the steep road into town and roadside signs still exhort the citizenry, though they no no longer quote Lenin or Marx: "Rogun Is the Source of National Pride for All Children of Tajikistan." "The Establishment of the Rogun Hydroelectric Plant Is the Bright Future for Tajikistan." "Water Is the Source of Life."

The full text of Pulitzer Center grantee Joshua Kucera's report can be found on the Wilson Quarterly website (paywall protected).



A yellow elephant


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