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Monday, October 24, 2016

Islam Karimov, the heir of Tamerlane: the secrets of the President of Uzbekistan

A long time ago in the memoirs of working during the time of Stalin in Moscow foreign correspondent I read this kind of story. When, in March 1953, the Soviet media was unexpectedly informed of the serious illness of the great father, the crowd of foreign journalists rushed to the only place in Moscow where they could use the services of international telephone Central Telegraph. However, right before their eyes sullen official meat snatched the phone from the booth.

In August 2016 the authorities of the former Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan is not possible to use such a simple and effective way of ensuring that the information blockade: since Stalin’s death, technology has gone too far ahead. But in relation to the availability of information on the state of health of the first persons of the country this circumstance, it seems, nothing has changed.

photo: Alexander Astafyev

At the moment I write these lines, no one exactly knows what is happening in the corridors of power in Tashkent and was alive a long time leader of the Republic Islam Karimov. To rely only on indirect signs. In 1982, many have guessed about the death of Brezhnev, he heard about the cancellation of the concert in honour of day of militia. Is it possible, on the basis of this precedent, to draw any conclusions from the BBC message about the cancellation of celebrations in honor of independence day Uzbekistan September 1? Possible, Yes. And perhaps no.

Read the story “the Death of Islam Karimov was a clinical”

But even if the former first Secretary of the Communist party of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov will manage to get back in the game, it doesn’t change the point. The process of “transition of power” in Central Asia has begun, and will continue only to pick up speed.

The country on the ruins of the Soviet Empire from scratch built Islam Karimov, hardly a particularly attractive place. I was born in the then capital of Soviet Kazakhstan, Alma-ATA, and from childhood I had heard about the beauty of Tashkent. But when in 2001 I finally fulfill my old dream and to get to the capital of Uzbekistan, I felt a sense of bitter disappointment. Tashkent looked like someone using a giant comb clean it of any traces of national color and instead put at each corner by a policeman.

Uzbekistan Islam Karimov is a bizarre mixture staroseletska, sharply anti-Soviet and traditional Oriental despotism. Karimov himself until very recently preserved characteristic regional Soviet official morbid interest in the Central Moscow press. As I know from most reliable sources, all the talk of the President of Uzbekistan with high-ranking visitors of the Russian capital necessarily included a detailed discussion of recent publications in the Moscow media about his country.

Read the story “Under the leadership of President”: how the Uzbek authorities support the life of Islam Karimov”

Karimov knew the names especially “offend” him of Russian journalists and all the while indignantly inquired at his Moscow guests: why don’t you put things in order and will press these hacks to nail?

I think, Karimov did not learn until the end to treat Russia as a foreign state. For example, “rise to power” in Russia in 2008, Dmitry Medvedev called President of Uzbekistan with an attack of rabies. Islam Karimov did not understand why is Putin suddenly decided to someone to concede the presidency and did not hesitate talked about this with my Russian interlocutors.

This touching “family” attitude to Moscow tops combined with Karimov with a sharp rejection of Russia and what he considered “shameful vestiges of the Soviet past”. Speaking in 2002 with the new British Ambassador Craig Murray later he raised “the mutiny”, was accused of all mortal sins Karimov and his foreign Ministry superiors, abandoned his family, married to a local stripper and wrote a memoir exposing — the President of Uzbekistan expressed regret that his country at the time was colonized by Russians, not the British.

Karimov declared war on the Soviet monuments — including those devoted to the great Patriotic War. But the term itself was in Uzbekistan under the de facto ban. Islam Karimov considered themselves the political heirs of the great medieval conqueror Tamerlane, founded in 1370, the Timurid Empire with its capital in Samarkand. The Soviet period of history of Uzbekistan Karimov seemed time, which should be out of my mind.

Karimov was known as a very strict boss, which sometimes could even “fatherly” personally, physically punishing, especially the guilty Minister or hokim ( regional chief). Those, in turn, addressed and treated in the same manner with their subordinates and ordinary citizens. Uzbekistan is a very tough police state in which there is total control over the population. This is done using modern police technology and through the system of mahallas — quarterly traditional communities. In every mahalla know each other, each at a glance. And it does not allow anyone to hide from the all-seeing eye of the state.

Uzbekistan Islam Karimov is a kind of family enterprise. First priority was the eldest daughter of President Gulnara. She was listed as the Deputy Ambassador in Moscow ( I have never been able to see it on any formal event), Ambassador in Madrid, a representative of Uzbekistan at the UN offices in Geneva. One time, Gulnara Karimov considered a real contender for the role of the next leader of the country. But she quarreled with her mother and sister and fell out of favor to the father. Now among the most influential figures in Uzbekistan is another Karimov’s daughter Lola and her mother Tatiana Akbarovna.

The market economy is present in Uzbekistan in a very truncated and original version. If you are the father of the student or the student, you know that your child is required to be sent to help the native state in the manual harvest of cotton. Currency exchange in Uzbekistan is also an adventure. No change at the official rate — to mock his own wallet. To change it on the black market and risk getting caught valiant local law enforcement.

In Uzbekistan sometimes occur and more specific problems caused by a combination of modern financial technologies and familiar Soviet practices. Technically you can have money on the card that you as the public sector gave a thoughtful state. But to transfer this money in cash form you can’t. Cash nowhere to be found.

In short, Uzbekistan is a country that has long needed modernization and transformation. But these changes should not be raucously and too quick character. If it happens suddenly, then the reign of Islam Karimov will begin to be perceived as the “Golden age”. About any serious democratization of Uzbekistan, unfortunately, can not be considered. There are only two alternative systems of government: a rigid secular regime, or the rise to power of Islamic radicals.

I don’t know who will be the next leader of Uzbekistan. To make predictions on this subject — a thankless task. Who, for example, could have predicted that the successor died in 2006, the great “father of all Turkmen” Niyazov Saparmurad will be his former personal dentist? But the new President in Tashkent can only be people from the current political elite is necessary for all, including Russia, which has a vested interest in maintaining at least relative strategic stability in Central Asia.

I would, of course, that this man was more dynamic and less prone to political games behind the back of Russian figure than Islam Karimov. But Uzbek “political Bazaar” – or, rather, at the Tashkent Palace behind the scenes — such desires of Moscow, not necessarily to be taken into account. The advent of the Republic the new leader will be appointed in the “best traditions” of Soviet trade: the people of Uzbekistan will have no choice but to accept what is given.

Read the article “President of Uzbekistan is sick, the successor found”

Media: died Islam Karimov. Chronicle of events

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