Friday, August 15, 2008


At TSUM, the Soviet-era department store in Dushanbe, safes are one of the most popular items, sold alongside cabinetry. This is because most of the purchasers are drug lords for the massive trade that comes up from Afghanistan.


This is the new presidential palace in Dushanbe, not to be confused with the old palace, or the summer residence in the city, and even more monstrosities of the local despot, who is democratic in name only. The furniture in the new palace cost $57 million—by comparison, Tajikisatns GDP last year was $990 million. It would only cost $10 million dollars to end the cholera epidemics here and provide clean drinking water, but that is not a priority to the government.


And this is a shot I covertly took inside the park of the encampments there, where workers who are building the new palace and renovating the park live--most are convicts from China, who are brought to Tajikistan as part of a massive program to use Chinese prisoners as slave labor in countries China is allied with, like Tajikistan.