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Russian hydroelectric project strengthens bond with Kyrgyzstan

A project to build four hydroelectric power stations will extend the Kremlin's footprint in Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyz officials welcome the investment, which could boost their economy.

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"By 2016, all these four stations will have been built and we will start building another eight plants (in this area)," Atambayev said, but gave no details.

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In a sparsely populated valley some 400 km southeast of the capital, Bishkek, Atambayev put a metal capsule with a message to future generations into the foundations of the first hydropower station. RusHydro Chairman Evgeny Dod took off his wrist watch and cemented it with the capsule.

The Kyrgyz president, who enjoys warm relations with President Vladimir Putin, clinched the deal during the Russian leader's visit to Bishkek last month.

"Today is a significant day in Kyrgyzstan's ties with this brotherly country (Russia)," said Atambayev. "I would like to specially thank Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin for his support of this project, his political will and wisdom."

With the deal, Russia also acquires the role of mediator in Kyrgyzstan's dispute with its much bigger neighbourUzbekistan over water use.

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