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uzbekistan

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UZBEKISTAN


 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2002 2001 2000 Ranking(2002)
GDP
Millions of US $ 9,713 11,300 13,800 86
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 450 550 620 164
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (date from the World Bank)

Books on Uzbekistan

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
447,400 

Population 
25,981,647

Principal 
ethnic groups 
Uzbeks 71.4%
Russians 8.3%
Tajiks 4.7%
Kazaks 4.1%

Capital 
Tashkent 

Currency 
Uzbek Sum

President 
Islam Karimov

  

Update No: 284- (27/08/04)

The Uzbeks are having to put up with a trying regime. President Islam Karimov belies his first name in that he is a rabid enemy of the Moslem religion. He claims that he is just hostile to Islamic fundamentalism. But in effect anyone practising his religion with any sort of serious piety is suspect.

Terrorism continues
On July 30th, suicide bombers attacked the US and Israeli embassies and the general prosecutor's office, killing three. Attacks in March and April had killed 47. Karimov puts the blame squarely on a London-based Islamic group, Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is suspected of having links with al-Qaeda. 
However, local observers say that the extremists would have little support in a population, not especially devout after seventy years of communism, but for the savage repression of even moderate Islam, of any political opposition at all and of private enterprise or initiatives of any kind. There are some 7,000 political prisoners, who are brutally treated. At least two cases of militants being boiled alive have been established and publicised by the British ambassador to Tashkent, Craig Murray. The US cut $18m in aid in July, even while it is gingerly continuing cooperation with Uzbek security forces and retains a key base in the south along the Afghan border at Khanabad, vital for its Afghan presence.
People are expected to be docile and acquiescent to the regime's policies. That is not good for morale or for the economy, which is run for cronies of the president. A dispirited populace does not make for an eager and hard-working work-force. The economy is languishing in the doldrums. Officially, it is growing by several per cent per year. But it lacks the resources or dynamism of Kazakstan next door. Karimov has closed the borders and shut down private businesses.

Succession problems
Karimov is in his mid sixties, but has health problems, allegedly according to Le Monde, leukaemia. There is no obvious successor, given the grip of steel with which Karimov rules the roost. There is one possibility that the bulk of the population dreads, that the reins of power are taken over by Karimov's daughter, Gulnara Karimova, only 32, but a real chip of the old block. She is known as the 'Uzbek Princess,' having an opulent life style, garishly inappropriate in the poverty-stricken Central Asian state.
She owns a string of firms, ranging from nightclubs and restaurants to a travel agency, a cement factory and a mobile telephone operator. The extent of her wealth was partially indicated by a custody battle she has been fighting with her ex-husband Mansur Masqudi, a quondam crony of Karimov's, who now lives in the US. Documents revealing the division of their assets detail $4.5m for her jewellery alone, $11m in investment holdings in Geneva and Dubai, a $10m retail complex and nightclubs worth $4m. 
They are just the tip of the iceberg, people are pretty sure. She likes nothing better than to swank around her nightclubs until dawn, breaking the 12 o'clock curfew with impunity and accompanied of course by scores of bodyguards. The most detested woman in Uzbekistan, just as assuredly her father is the most loathed man, she may yet succeed him.
This would be a massive embarrassment for the US, where a court has issued a warrant for her arrest for defying an order to return her two children. But this is one subject on which she has a certain amount of popular sympathy. The US is not popular in the Uzbek world, given its support for the dictator. Anyone defying the US, even the dictator's daughter, attracts some grudging regard.

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ENERGY

Gazprom kicks off production of natural gas in Uzbekistan

Russian natural gas monopoly, Gazprom, has started production of natural gas at the Shakhpakhty gas field in Uzbekistan, an official with Uzbek national holding, Uzbekneftegaz, said recently. 
The extraction of gas is conducted under a production sharing agreement that was signed in April, 2004. The duration of the signed agreement is 13 years and Gazprom plans to invest 15 million Euro over the next two years to develop this project.
By the end of 2004 Gazprom and Uzbekneftegaz plan to produce up to 100 million cubic metres of natural gas from the Shakhpakhty field. All of the gas produced under the production sharing agreement will be exported. Gazprom plans to sign another production sharing agreement with Uzbekistan by the end of this year. The agreement will be for the development of a gas field in the Ustyurt region and its duration is planned for 45 years, MosNews reported.

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FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION

Yanukovych visits Uzbekistan, discusses bilateral pacts

Ukrainian Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovych, recently visited Uzbekistan on an official visit in order to take part in the sixth meeting of Uzbek-Ukrainian intergovernmental cooperation commission, Interfax News Agency reported.
During the visit the sides were due to sign a number of bilateral documents, particularly, an intergovernmental agreement in cooperation in peaceful-purpose exploration and use of outer space, and agreement on cooperation between Uzbekistan's State Property Committee and Ukraine's State Property Fund, according to Interfax. The sides were also due to sign an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation between administrative and territorial units of the two countries.
Bilateral relations in trade and economic sphere, fuel and energy complex, transport, research and engineering, educational and humanitarian areas were due to be discussed. Special attention was expected to be paid to both countries' participation in Afghanistan's economic infrastructure reconstruction.

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

MTS buys over 60% of Uzdunrobita

Russia's Mobile TeleSystems Company (MTS) has acquired 74% of shares in the Uzbek cell phone company, Uzdunrobita, which has more than 100,000 customers. The deal was registered with the relevant bodies of state authority of Uzbekistan on August 2nd, a source in the Uzdunrobita directorate general said, ITAR TASS News Agency reported.
Uzdunrobita Director General, Bezodah Akhmidov, said the two companies have also signed a three-year option agreement allowing MTS to purchase the remaining 26% of the Uzbek shares. MTS President, Vassily Sidorov, stated on the deal, "we shall use our resources and potentialities in full measure to provide modern mobile communication services to the largest possible range of inhabitants of Uzbekistan." Uzdunrobita company is Uzbekistan's first cell communication company and the largest of the five operators functioning in the country. It provides services to the GSM and the APS/DAMPS standard as it holds licences for both standards until 2016.

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