Category: Central Land of Uzbekistan

09 September 2016 Friday

Uzbekistan will elect a new president on December 4 following the death of long-time leader Islam Karimov, Reuters news agency reported.

The country’s elections authority made the announcement on Friday, just a day after the Uzbek parliament named Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev as interim president.

Under the Uzbek constitution, a presidential election must be held within three months, and Mirziyoyev, who was the official mourner-in-chief at Karimov’s funeral is widely expected to be elected.

Karimov died of a stroke last week after ruling the resource-rich country for 27 years. Nearly half of the country’s 32 million citizens were born after he came to power.

Many analysts had anticipated that Karimov would be succeeded by his older daughter Gulnara, a businesswoman and pop star, but she fell from favour two years ago and there was no sign of her on Saturday among the family members in the funeral cortege.

With no obvious successor, Karimov’s death has triggered an outpouring of grief, mixed with uncertainty about the future.

Unrest would have repercussions for Russia, the regional power and home to hundreds of thousands of Uzbek migrant workers, and for the US-allied government in Afghanistan.

The Kremlin’s top political adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said on Saturday that Moscow expected the political situation in Uzbekistan to remain stable.

The Uzbek government has long been repeatedly criticized for human rights abuses, most notoriously in 2005 in the city of Andijan, where government forces are accused of killing hundreds of demonstrators.

Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, accused Karimov’s security forces of executing two dissidents by boiling them to death.

Source: al-Jazeera.



September 03, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) — In a statement ahead of President Islam Karimov’s burial Saturday, Uzbekistan’s government hailed the authoritarian leader as a statesman and democrat though he was widely criticized abroad for harsh repression of dissent,

The 78-year-old Karimov, whose death from a cerebral hemorrhage was announced Friday, was being laid to rest in his birthplace of Samarkand, the ancient Silk Road city. Karimov’s coffin was placed in the Registan, the renowned square flanked on three sides by madrassahs covered in intricate, colorful tiles and topped with aqua cupolas. The Interfax news agency said the square was packed with thousands of men — women were excluded — to hear a mufti give a funeral prayer that said “Islam Karimov served his people.”

The body was then taken to the Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, another architecturally significant site. Karimov became leader of Uzbekistan in 1989 when it was a Soviet republic, then held power with ruthless determination throughout all of Uzbekistan’s independence. He crushed opposition, repressed the media and was repeatedly denounced by activists abroad for human rights violations including killings and torture.

His Cabinet, however, said in a statement that Karimov “attained a high authority in the country and in the international community as an outstanding statesman, who has developed and implemented a deeply thought-out strategy of building a democratic constitutional state with a civil society and a market economy.”

Karimov cultivated no apparent successor, and his death raised concerns that the predominantly Sunni Muslim country could face prolonged infighting among clans over its leadership, something its Islamic radical movement could exploit.

“The death of Islam Karimov may open a pretty dangerous period of unpredictability and uncertainty in Uzbekistan,” Alexei Pushkov, head of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told the Tass news agency on Friday.

Given the lack of access to the strategic country, it’s hard to judge how powerful the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan might be. Over the years, the group has been affiliated with the Taliban, al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, and it has sent fighters abroad.

Under the Uzbek constitution, if the president dies his duties pass temporarily to the head of the senate until an election can be held within three months. However, the head of the Uzbek senate is regarded as unlikely to seek permanent power and Karimov’s demise is expected to set off a period of jockeying for political influence.

Karimov was known as a tyrant with an explosive temper and a penchant for cruelty. His troops killed hundreds unarmed demonstrators with machine guns during a 2005 uprising, he jailed thousands of political opponents, and his henchmen reportedly boiled some dissidents to death.

September 02, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s state news agency is citing the government of Uzbekistan as saying that President Islam Karimov has died. The 78-year-old Karimov was the only leader independent Uzbekistan ever had. He was reported to have been hospitalized last week and rumors of his death have circulated for days.

The RIA-Novosti news agency on Friday cited the Uzbek government as saying his funeral would be held on Saturday.

September 01, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) — A national newsreader has delivered a televised Independence Day speech on behalf of ailing President Islam Karimov, who remains hospitalized in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, with a suspected brain hemorrhage.

The surprise substitution reflected rising political uncertainty in Uzbekistan, which observed its national holiday Thursday. It was Karimov’s first-ever absence from the celebrations. Karimov has run an authoritarian regime in the Central Asian nation since 1989, suppressing opposition and cultivating no apparent successor. He hasn’t been seen in public since mid-August, and his government last weekend admitted he was ill. His daughter on Monday said he had suffered a brain hemorrhage.

Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev led the start of independence-related events Wednesday. Other events have reportedly been cancelled, including a concert and a fireworks display.

August 31, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) — Uzbekistan’s prime minister is leading the nation’s Independence Day celebration in the capital of Tashkent amid reports of President Islam Karimov’s illness. The government announced Sunday that the 78-year-old Karimov had been hospitalized, and his daughter issued a statement Monday saying he had suffered a brain hemorrhage.

Karimov has run an authoritarian regime in this Central Asian nation since 1989, harshly repressing any opposition and cultivating no apparent successor. On Tuesday, unconfirmed reports claimed that Karimov had already died.

Russian news agencies on Wednesday said the Independence Day celebrations in Tashkent were led by Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev, who has been rumored as a possible successor. The uncertainty over Karimov’s health raises concerns that Uzbekistan could face prolonged in-fighting among clans over leadership claims, something Islamic radicals could exploit.

August 30, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) — Whether Uzbekistan’s president is at death’s door or has already passed through is unclear, but that may not be the greatest uncertainty facing the country — it’s what comes after his death.

As independent Uzbekistan’s only leader, Islam Karimov has run a monolithic regime, harshly repressing any opposition and cultivating no apparent successor. The government announcement Sunday that the 78-year-old Karimov had been hospitalized, and his daughter’s statement that he had suffered a brain hemorrhage, raised concern that the most populous of the ex-Soviet nations in central Asia could face prolonged internecine maneuvering among various clans to take power and that Islamic radicals could exploit the interregnum.

Some Russian analysts meanwhile worried that the United States could try to use a power vacuum to foment “color revolution” protests like those that drove out leaders in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.

On Tuesday, unconfirmed reports claimed Karimov had already died. Russian news agencies reported that a major concert planned for the capital Tashkent on Wednesday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union had been called off — a possible echo of the Soviet practice of cancelling entertainment to signal a leader’s demise.

“It’s a place that runs on rumors,” said analyst Paul Stronski of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Uzbekistan’s opacity makes assessing the potential threat of Islamic extremism difficult, Stronski said. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan over the years has been affiliated with the Taliban, al-Qaida and the Islamic State group and its fighters active outside the country, but how much presence it has in Uzbekistan is unclear. The government may have overstated the Islamist threat to justify crackdowns on the opposition; the 2005 Andijan protests that ended with police killing hundreds were said by authorities to have been inspired by the IMU.

Although Uzbeks are largely poor and repressed, “we really don’t know the full level of discontent … we don’t know how much these (Islamist) groups have penetrated,” Stronski told The Associated Press. “It’s something to be concerned about in the longer term, but I don’t see it as imminent.”

“Islamists have influence, but very limited,” Vladimir Yevseyev, deputy director of the Institute for CIS Countries, a Moscow-based think tank studying ex-Soviet countries, was quoted as saying by the Tass news agency.

Analyst Adzhar Kurtov told Tass he believes that all of the possible successors to Karimov are “people with a very careful approach who will try to create a situation in this transition period that will not allow agitation and destabilization.”

Stronski also said he expects that amid whatever maneuvering there is for power post-Karimov, the threat of extremism won’t be sidelined. “I think generally they’re going to keep an eye on the ball,” he said.

Under the Uzbek constitution, if the president dies or relinquishes power, the president of the senate takes interim leadership for three months until new elections. But the senate president is seen as a pliant figure unlikely to seek the permanent presidency.

Prime Minster Shavkat Mirziyayev and a deputy prime minister, Rustam Azimov, are regarded as the best positioned to take over. Azimov, who is also finance minister, is viewed as likely the more liberal of the two.

But in a country with no genuinely democratic experience, the force of the constitution can be open to question. In the region’s only analogous transfer of power, the death of Turkmenistan’s president in 2006, power was to pass to the head of the parliament, but he was jailed and the health minister took over.

In the view of Alexei Martynov, a pro-Kremlin analyst in Moscow, Uzbekistan should be on guard against another threat. “U.S. political technologists who were behind the abortive coup in Uzbekistan in 2005 may feel the temptation to have another try,” he was quoted as saying by Tass. “The Uzbek security services should pay the closest attention to the U.S. embassy in Tashkent, and keep an eye on what is happening there, who enters the building and who walks out of it and if the Americans are up to something.”

March 29, 2015

MOSCOW (AP) — Uzbekistan’s election commission said 91 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in Sunday’s presidential election, where victory by longtime authoritarian leader Islam Karimov is a foregone conclusion.

The 77-year-old Karimov has led the former Soviet republic in Central Asia since the late 1980s and ruthlessly quashed all opposition to his rule. While Uzbekistan is untroubled by any immediate signs of unrest, the future of the country of 30 million people is colored with uncertainty amid a troubled security situation in neighboring Afghanistan and the lack of a clear succession plan should Karimov suddenly leave office.

Economic woes could also be in store as a knock-on effect of the looming recession in Russia, where around 3 million Uzbeks live and work. Russian news agencies, citing the Uzbek Central Election Commission, said turnout was 91 percent. Results will be released Monday.

Karimov faced three purely nominal rivals. In the previous election in 2007, he won 91 percent of the vote. A Russian parliament member who served as an election observer, Ilyas Umakhanov, said the citizens of Uzbekistan were voting for “further guarantees of stability and the social-economic development of the country,” the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

Since gaining independence in 1991, Uzbekistan has pursued a policy of economic self-reliance and sought to balance its diplomatic relations with the West and Russia, playing them against each other. The United States installed a military base in the country after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It was forced to abandon that facility in 2005 as relations between the countries soured following a violent government crackdown on rioters in the Ferghana Valley city of Andijan that is believed to have left hundreds dead.

Almost all Western media have been barred from reporting inside the country since that time. Independent journalists and activists face sustained harassment.

04 December 2014 Thursday

In Uzbekistan’s capital city of Tashkent, in the district of Yangiyul, a group of Muslim women have been arrested on charges of “radicalism” for teaching the Quran.

According to state television, a group of women who were teaching children Quran at home was arrested. The report said that “the group leader” who named Hanife Mirganieva and a few other women managed to escape from the police. Uzbek officials say its very likely that the women would have sought refuge in Turkey.

According to “Ozodlik” radio, the women’s husbands were previously caught as Hizbut Tahrir members.

Source: World Bulletin.



ANKARA – Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Tuesday he would visit the Central Asian state of Uzbekistan this week, the first such trip by the top Turkish diplomat in 13 years amid efforts to improve troubled relations.

“Uzbekistan is a friendly and brotherly country at the heart of Central Asia,” Davutoglu, who will begin his visit on Thursday, told reporters in Ankara.

Turkey was the first country to recognize in 1991 the independence of Uzbekistan, a fellow overwhelmingly Turkic-speaking nation and the most populous state in ex-Soviet Central Asia.

But relations with Uzbekistan took a nosedive in 2005, when Uzbek troops killed hundreds of demonstrators in the town of Andijan, provoking an international outcry.

Turkey had backed a UN resolution condemning Uzbekistan over human rights violations in Andijan, provoking the ire of strongman Uzbek President Islam Karimov.

Uzbekistan has since snubbed a number of regional summits hosted by Ankara in recent years.

Davutoglu said the two sides had demonstrated political will to overcome the “stagnation” in bilateral ties in recent years, hoping that the trip would invigorate dialogue channels and give a boost to relations.

The minister is also due to visit the ancient cities of Samarkand and Bukhara as well as the capital Tashkent.

Ankara has sought to expend its influence across Central Asia in recent years and the region has proved to be a key market for Turkish companies.

Source: Middle East Online.


12 August 2014 Tuesday

Islamic Studies students applying to study at Tashkent University in Uzbekistan have described their university entry exam as a ‘scandal’ after they found questions probing their opinions regarding the Central Asian state’s secular laws.

One applicant wrote a letter to the Ozodlik radio station complaining that the questions asked were based upon anti-Islamic policies, leaving students in a dilemma.

According to the letter, the university asked questions regarding the students’ opinion on the headscarf and whether they felt it was necessary in today’s day and age. The student complained that had one answered ‘no’, they answer would go against their religion, but if they said ‘yes’, they would fall at odds with the state, which bans headscarves in public buildings.

Another question asked students what ‘Islamic groups’ they were aware of, which applicants considered to be a trick question to find out their political opinions.

A representative from the university admitted to the radio station that these questions were asked and that they had been selected by the university’s professors.

Although Islam is by far the dominant religion in Uzbekistan, with Muslims constituting 90-96% of the population, political expressions of Islam as well as open displays of Islamic symbols are largely suppressed in the country.

Source: World Bulletin.