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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 9,949 9,713 11,300 91
GNI per capita
 US $ 420 450 550 173
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (date from the World Bank)

Books on Uzbekistan


Area ( 


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


Uzbek Sum

Islam Karimov


Update No: 291- (29/03/05)

Fears of the 'Kyrgyz infection'
Navruz, the festival of spring, is a traditional time of merriment for Central Asia's Muslims. This year, however, Navruz is a time of worry for President Islam Karimov's administration in Uzbekistan.
During the run up to the holiday, Uzbek authorities tightened security in the capital Tashkent. Police closely monitored the movement of people heading in and out of the capital, closing public areas, and limiting attendance at official celebrations. 
Several factors were contributing to the heightened sense of precaution maintained by Karimov's administration. Officials, for one, were well aware that the first anniversary of a four-day uprising by Islamic radical forces is approaching. More importantly, however, Uzbek leaders are worried about the fallout from the political upheaval in Georgia and Ukraine, where mass protests pushed incumbent authorities from power, and from the turbulent situation in Kyrgyzstan next door. 
Concerns among officials in Tashkent were greatly heightened by the continuing confrontation in March in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, where anti-government protesters appear to have wrested control of southern provinces away from President Askar Akayev. The Kyrgyz tumult has potentially profound ramifications for Uzbekistan, given that the twin centres of revolutionary ferment in Kyrgyzstan - Osh and Jalal-Abad provinces - border restive Uzbek regions in the Ferghana Valley. Southern Kyrgyzstan is also the home to a substantial ethnic Uzbek minority. There is an ethnic overspill in the Fergana valley between Uzbeks, Kyrgyz and Tajiks, dating back for generations, which long precedes any ideas of state boundaries between these three political entities.
In response to the revolutionary impulses coming out of Georgia and Ukraine, Uzbek authorities introduced measures designed to discourage the ability of people to congregate in public places, and to increase the ability of officials to monitor the movements of citizens. In late 2004, reacting to burdensome government regulations, merchants rallied in several large and heated protests in provincial bazaars. To help prevent such unrest in Tashkent, law-enforcement officers have kept the open-air section of the Chorsu Bazaar closed since November. Authorities attribute the closure to the construction of a bridge located several hundred meters away from the bazaar. The bazaar was the scene of suicide bombings during the late March 2004 Islamic radical uprising. 
The security measures have created new opportunities for corrupt practices. In the case of the Chorsu Bazaar, what was once a bustling social centre for peddlers and shoppers has since been reduced to a fenced lot containing a handful of merchants who can afford to pay bribes to the police. 
Throughout Tashkent, police have intensified enforcement of the propiska (residency permit) regime. The system, implemented by Joseph Stalin during the Soviet era, limits freedom of movement by imposing a residency requirement on those seeking to work legally and gain access to social services in a particular town or city.
In July 2004, following a series of suicide bombings outside the Prosecutor General's office and the US and Israeli embassies, police and mahalla committees swept the city and expelled those not officially registered as residents of Tashkent. A similar security sweep was carried out in Tashkent as Navruz approached. 
Possibly in response to the major role played by student activists in the recent revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, the Karimov administration seems keen to keep students from gathering in public in the capital. Usually packed with buses of students from around the country, the parking lots and streets surrounding the Alisher Navoi Garden were nearly empty during this year's preparations for Navruz. The Navruz Pavilion, in the centre of the Garden, was active with preparations for the official concert and dancing celebration, but groundskeepers and event staff said that in comparison with previous years, this year's event would be much smaller. 
Even for foreign diplomats and dignitaries, invitations from the Tashkent city government were few and far between. Only a few Americans diplomats received invitations, not, it may be noted, British ones, after a significant diplomatic rumpus between London and Tashkent.

Play of Murray's story to open on the London stage
Uzbekistan is a grim Central Asian dictatorship, the convolutions of which are often difficult to fathom. There is one Westerner who claimed to have done so, the former UK ambassador to Tashkent, Craig Murray.
The experiences of Britain's former ambassador to Uzbekistan, who was ousted after false allegations that he offered visas for sex, drove an embassy car down a flight of steps and drank to excess, are to be turned into a play by a leading theatre producer. 
Max Stafford-Clark is planning a dramatic reconstruction of Craig Murray's treatment by the Foreign Office for the London stage. The play, Talking to Terrorists, a co-production between Stafford-Clark's London-based company Out of Joint and the Royal Court Theatre, is expected to open in 2005. It is hoped that Jack Straw and prime minister, Tony Blair, will be invited to the First Night.
Edinburgh-born Murray was suspended from his post in Tashkent after condemning human rights abuses by the Uzbek government. He was recalled to Britain last year and charged with 18 disciplinary offences. Although subsequently cleared of all allegations, he is still facing misconduct charges for speaking publicly about the dispute. 
"Craig has talked publicly about violence by the state against people, so it would be fascinating to have him talk about that," said Stafford-Clark, former artistic director of the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh and London's Royal Court. "We hope to meet him to discuss his experiences - what he says could be used as a text in the play, possibly with an actor playing him." 
Murray is suing the Foreign Office, claiming that he was falsely accused of trading visas for sex in an attempt to force him to resign. He has hired Gareth Peirce, the human rights lawyer, who will work alongside lawyers from Matrix Chambers, Cherie Booth's legal firm, on a no-win, no-fee basis. 
He plans to force Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, to appear in court to explain his involvement in the case and to establish whether the American government put pressure on Downing Street to get rid of him. "I am more than happy to speak to Mr Stafford-Clark and give him some real life incidents he might want to put into his play, although there's something scary about the idea of someone playing me," he said. 
The diplomat, who spent his childhood in South Queensferry, has suffered a nervous breakdown and a pulmonary embolism in his lung, which has resulted in a serious heart condition. 
He was recalled to Britain last year and charged with 18 disciplinary offences. Although subsequently cleared of all allegations, he is still facing misconduct charges for speaking publicly about the dispute. The diplomat intends to sue the Foreign Office for bringing the "vexatious" disciplinary charges as part of a smear campaign to make him resign. 
He admitted to having an affair with Nadira Alieva, a 22-year-old Uzbek hairdresser. Fiona, his wife of 20 years, left him and returned to Britain with their children, Jamie, 15, and Emily, 9. 
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "Craig will know our rules about outside employment and it would be normal for him to contact us about things that he does outside the office. This is the first we have heard about this. Once we have full details we can look into it."

Cotton and the child labour scandal
That Craig is right that appalling things are going on in Uzbekistan is shown by a harrowing story that has recently come to light.
When Fazliddin Akhrorov was ordered by officials in the Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan to give up his studies and pick cotton for three months, he at first refused. Threatened with expulsion from his institute, he was taken away. Within three weeks the healthy 16-year-old was dead. 
The authorities claimed Akhrorov, an agricultural student, had suffered a liver disease, but when his body was returned to his family it had bruises on the face and shoulders. Two years later his mother, Ugoloy Igamkula, still does not know what happened. She received no apology and no compensation. 
In the past two years several children and university students forced to work in the country's vast cotton fields have died in mysterious circumstances. "My son died at the hands of the state," said Igamkula. "He was either beaten to death or died because he was made to handle pesticides without proper protection. At first the authorities sought to cover up his death. I was told he was in hospital. I cooked him a meal and rushed to his bedside only to find out that he had already died." 
A damning report, issued by International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, claims that every year thousands of schoolchildren, some as young as seven, are forced into the fields of the former Soviet central Asian republics to pick cotton later sold to big western traders. 
The practice is most widespread in Uzbekistan, the world's fifth largest cotton exporter and one of the world's most repressive regimes. Illegal child labour is also present in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. "All three countries outlaw child labour, and occasionally they issue declarations denying it exists," the report, The Curse of Cotton, claims. "Yet, during any given harvest, the cotton fields will be full of children, some very young."
Often the children are forced to spray dangerous chemicals with no protection and left to drink contaminated water. In many cases they are not paid. Those who are receive less than £50 for the entire season. Anyone refusing to take part can face fines, expulsion from school and beatings. 
A spokesman for Cargill, a US company with offices in London and Liverpool that buys cotton from Central Asia, said that to its knowledge children who picked cotton did so to help their parents during the harvest. Thomas Reinhart, who runs a Swiss family-owned company that is one of the biggest traders in Central Asian cotton, said he had never heard of the use of child labour in the region. "We buy our cotton from government agencies and don't know what happens out in the fields," he said. 
Ignorance is bliss. 

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Gazprom signs gas contracts with Uzbekistan

Russian gas monopoly OAO Gazprom and Uzbekistan's Uztransgaz have signed contracts to transport Central Asian gas through Uzbekistan and to buy five billion cubic metres of Uzbek gas in 2005, New Europe reported recently.
Gazprom said these documents were signed during a visit to Uzbekistan by a Gazprom delegation headed by deputy CEOs, Yury Komarov, and Alexander Ryazonov.
Gazprom and Uzbekneftegaz last year signed a strategic cooperation agreement that envisions long-term shipments of Uzbek gas for 2003-2012, joint projects in gas production under production sharing agreements, and also the development of gas transport infrastructure in Uzbekistan and the transportation of Central Asian gas through the republic.
A pilot gas production project is a PSA for the restoration of gas production at the Shakhpakhty field in Ustyurt region, which will open the way for larger gas production projects.
"The conditions of the contract to buy gas did not change compared with 2004, and the transit contract conditions remained at practically the previous level." 
Gazprom also said that the sides agreed to expand cooperation between Russia and Uzbekistan in the gas sector in line with an agreement on strategic cooperation.

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