Industrialization reached Russia later than Western Europe and North America, and one of the few large scale dams dating from the Tsarist era is on the Volkhov near St Petersburg (opened 1926). However with Lenin's declaration Communism is Soviet Power Plus the Electrification of the Whole Country (22 December 1920), dam building began in earnest, to a more functional design. One of the first was the DneproGES (Dnieper Hydroelectric Station) dam on the Dnieper in Ukraine completed in 1932 using US generators. Important for rendering the Dnieper navigable, it was destroyed by the retreating Soviet army in 1941 but rebuilt along with many new dams in the post-war period. The Dnieper now has six major hydroelectric dams and the larger Volga river has nine, each up to 50m high with shipping locks and generating up to 3000MW.

In the post-war period, Soviet engineers rose to new challenges, not only designing dams in Soviet Central Asia and Siberia which are among the largest in the world, but also advising on schemes around the world, notably the Aswan Dam and many schemes in China. Today, dams in the new Central Asian Republics are of particular significance: the electricity they produce represent badly-needed natural resource, while the control of scarce water may prove a source of conflict. Recent political and economic turmoil has put several projects years behind schedule and some of those completed are being poorly maintained, potentially dangerously so. The former USSR now has a total hydroelectric capacity of around 60,000MW, about 20% of electricity use (varying from 0% in Belarus to 89% in Georgia). The larger dams are tabulated below.

Volgograd¹ Volga47m3974m2500MWEarth/Rock Fill1960
IrkutskAngara River/Lake Baikal44m2500m650MWEarth Fill1956
BratskAngara River-Oka-Iya³124m4417m4500MWEarth Fill/Gravity1967
Ust-IlimskAngara River-Ilim105m3725m4300MWEarthfill/Gravity1974
Boguchany²Angara River79m1816m4000MWRock Fill
Krasnoyarsk (Divnogorsk)Yenisei119m1065m6000MWGravity1968
ZeyaZeya (Russian Far East)115m758m1290MWButtress1975
Bureya²Bureya (Russian Far East)139m810m2000MWGravity
ChirkeySulak (Dagestan)230m333m1000MWArch1977
NurekVakhsh (Tajikistan)300m704m3000MWEarth Fill1980
Rogun²Vakhsh (Tajikistan)335m660m3600MWEarth/Rock Fill
IngurskayaInguri (Georgia)270m680m1250MWArch1984
ToktogulNaryn (Kyrgyzstan)215m293m1200MWGravity1978

¹Several dams this size on the Volga.
²Still under construction.
³At 169km³, the "Dragon Lake" is the world's largest artificial reservoir (until Three Gorges Dam is operational).

Since the 1930s, most of the dam design in the USSR (and, later, in independent Russia) has been conducted by the design institute that since 1957 has been known as Hydroproject.

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