Books on Uzbekistan
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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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