Books on Uzbekistan
Update No: 315 - (29/03/07)
The troubles of a tyrant
The sudden death of President Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan in December
last year has been a nasty jar for President Islam Karimov. It shows how fragile
and fleeting is all human power, "Uneasy lies the head that wears the
There is always a massive succession problem in dictatorships. Dictators do not
like to groom a successor for obvious reasons. Even sons can oust fathers, as
Akbar the Great, perhaps the greatest, certainly the most enlightened, of the
Moghul emperors of India, discovered. But there is nothing of an enlightened
despotism about the Karimov regime.
Actually, Karimov has no son, but a daughter, Karimova, who is scarcely in a
position to evict him in what remains a very macho society. Moreover, she is
deeply unpopular for doing the jejune thing for the offspring of despots - she
has enriched herself enormously at the public's expense. She is not likely to
succeed him, although that was the plan!.
The situation in Afghanistan, with its long and porous Uzbek border, is no more
re-assuring for the Tyrant of Tashkent either. Civil war continues with the
Taleban, the mortal foe of secular dictators everywhere, still fighting their
If one looks east the outlook is hardly comforting two years on from the Tulip
Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, where trouble is brewing again (see Kyrgyzstan). Only
to the north is there a measure of stability in Kazakhstan and Russia. Hence the
great loyalty of Uzbekistan to the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty
Organization (CSTO), set up in 2002, the bulwark for stability for the region.
The CSTO moves quickly to bolster security in Central Asia
The CSTO is moving assertively to expand its strategic influence in Central
Asia, of which Uzbekistan is the hub. Recently, the CSTO has established a
security relationship with Afghanistan, and has moved forward with plans to
establish a regional air defence system, both of enormous importance to Tashkent
now that it has severed ties with the US in the wake of the repression in
Andijan in May, 2005.
A CSTO working group visited the Afghan capital, Kabul, from March 9th-13th,
according to the official Russian news agency RIA Novosti. The CSTO press office
issued a statement March 14th expressing satisfaction with the visit, stating
that the talks marked the opening of "direct contacts" between the
Moscow-based organization and the Afghan government. According to the CSTO
statement, representatives of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's administration
expressed interest in developing contacts with the security grouping, which
includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and
Discussions in Kabul focused on the revival of Islamic radicalism and narcotics
trafficking. CSTO officials reportedly feel an urgent need to develop strong
security ties with Afghanistan because of what they feel is an inadequate
response to these issues by the United States and NATO, which collectively
maintain over 40,000 troops in the country.
"The Afghan side is most interested in having their military and law
enforcement officers trained in Russia and other CSTO member states, as well as
in purchasing Russian weaponry," the CSTO statement said.
"Afghanistan's army and law enforcement representatives specifically
stressed [a request for] serious assistance in improving the border security of
their state, in both technical and personnel training terms."
The CSTO created a working group on Afghanistan in 2005 under the auspices of
the organization's Foreign Ministers' Council. Its primary task was to develop
recommendations on strengthening Afghan security institutions and improving
anti-trafficking measures. The March 14th CSTO statement revealed that the group
intends to transform the Channel 2006 anti-drug initiative, which is designed to
curb trafficking out of Afghanistan, into a permanent regional program.
If the intensified cooperation between Kabul and the security organization
unfolds as envisioned by CSTO officials, it would mark a significant
geopolitical setback for US interests in Central Asia. Since the US-led
coalition forced the Taliban out of Kabul in late 2001, Washington has enjoyed
unrivalled political influence in Afghanistan. But US inattention to Afghan
reconstruction has played a role in the revival of the Taliban insurgency in the
country. This, in turn, has created an opening for Russia to establish a
security presence in the country, which was occupied by Soviet forces from
In February, Sergei Ivanov, the Russian first deputy prime minister and former
defence minister, reiterated a Moscow proposal on joint NATO-CSTO stabilization
action in Afghanistan. CSTO officials have repeatedly criticized NATO's
perceived reluctance to cooperate with the Moscow-based security organization.
On the same day that the CSTO mission wrapped up its Kabul visit, a top Russian
military official suggested that the grouping could be used as a vehicle for the
expansion of an air-defence network that would cover CSTO member states. Russian
Air Forces Commander Vladimir Mikhailov told RIA-Novosti on March 13th that the
air-defence "would be of great benefit to all those states bordering
Russia, as they have less military capability and funding than we have."
The same is true for Uzbekistan.
The CSTO also has moved rapidly to promote Uzbekistan's re-integration into the
security organization. Semerikov indicated that Tashkent was prepared to have
Uzbek forces participate in the CSTO Rapid Deployment Force. The extent of Uzbek
participation remained under discussion, Semerikov said on March 14th.
Russia and Uzbekistan were among original signatories of the Collective Security
Treaty (CST) in 1992, also known as Tashkent Treaty. However, Uzbekistan
withdrew from the pact in 1999, only to rejoin last August, following the
collapse of US-Uzbek bilateral ties.
The following highlights the crucial danger area for Tashkent in the east of the
republic, the Ferghana Valley:-
Friday, March 23, 2007
Political discontent simmers in the Ferghana valley
Political discontent is brewing throughout the Kyrgyz, Tajik and Uzbek
portions of the heavily populated Ferghana Valley, where all three republics
meet in a maze of frontiers and complexity of ethnicities. Regional elites in
all three states are clearly unhappy with the behaviour of central officials.
Discontent is perhaps most acute in Southern Kyrgyzstan. Members of the region's
political elite are publicly complaining that the long-running political
confrontation in Bishkek, pitting President Kurmanbek Bakiyev against members of
the Kyrgyz parliament, is threatening stability in the regions.
Observers suggest that members of presidential administration may have played a
role in organizing the protest. In Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the source of
local dissatisfaction is linked to a more common source - the heavy-handed
behaviour of central officials. Following his re-election in late 2006, Tajik
President Imomali Rahmonov carried out a far-reaching government reshuffle that
included the removal of Kasim Kasymov as governor of the Sughd Region, which
encompasses the Tajik portion of the Ferghana Valley. Local observers say the
aim of the reshuffle was to strengthen Rahmonov's influence over the region's
political apparatus. Tajik political analyst Daler Gufronov, writing for the
Asia Inform news agency, characterized Kasymov's ouster as "thunder on a
clear day." According to a report distributed by the Regnum news agency,
Rahmonov offered the prime minister's portfolio to Kasymov, who "for
unknown reasons" turned the offer down. The rebuff reportedly angered
Rahmonov, and the ousted governor ended up with only a minor post within the
ruling People's Democratic Party. Having been in charge of Sughd Province for
seven years, Kasymov had forged powerful patronage networks. Thus, only weeks
after Kasymov's departure from power, Rahmonov began a wide-ranging "cadre
rotation" in municipal executive bodies throughout the region. In the Uzbek
part of the valley, long-standing resentment toward the centre continues to
grow. Human rights organizations documented that discontent with the central
government's economic policies was a major factor in stoking the Andijan events
Tashkent has done little to address those complaints since then. Instead,
President Islam Karimov's administration appears preoccupied with maintaining
tight political control over the region, a desire underscored by the political
purges carried out in 2006 in both Andijan and Ferghana provinces.
An entrepreneur who spoke to EurasiaNet on condition of anonymity complained
that the purges have stoked corruption and exacerbated local economic
difficulties. Prior to the political changes, local entrepreneurs were already
buckling under what some described as confiscatory tax policies. Starting in
early 2006, Uzbek authorities imposed a monthly fee that is not connected to
sales revenue, requiring all entrepreneurs to pay the state the equivalent of
7.5 minimum monthly wages, or roughly US$85. For the average small businessman,
who generates about US$200 per month in income, the tax rate comes out to over
40 per cent, and serves as a disincentive to stay in business. Concurrently with
imposition of the flat tax, the government expanded efforts to collect excise
taxes on some imported goods. The heightened collection effort has hit Ferghana
Valley residents especially hard, given that many local entrepreneurs rely on
cross-border trade. Inter-state issues are also playing a role in the Ferghana
Valley's rising discontent. In September 2006, for example, Karimov and Bakiyev
signed an agreement easing visa requirements for Kyrgyz and Uzbek citizens.
However, almost six months after the signing of the agreement, authorities have
not fully implemented the visa-free travel regime.
Uzbekistan, Russia to set up UzRosAvia joint venture
Russia and Uzbekistan will establish a joint venture that will be initially
involved in repairing Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters, Russian Federal Industry
Agency (Rosprom) head Boris Alyoshin said in Tashkent on March 8. "This is
the first such joint venture in the CIS," he said. Russian organisations
will control no less than 51 per cent of UzRosAvia, which will be set up in
2007, Alyoshin said. An agreement on its establishment was signed during Russian
Prime Minister, Mikhail Fradkov's, official visit to Uzbekistan on March 7th.
The founders of the joint venture will be Russia's Rosoboronexport and united
industrial corporation Oboronprom, as well as Uzbekistan's Chkalov aircraft
manufacturing association in Tashkent and Uzmakh-susimpeks enterprise. The joint
venture will be based on the premises of the Chirchik aircraft repair plant, New
Naftogaz, Uzbekneftegaz to discuss boosting gas supplies
Delegates from the Ukrainian national joint-stock company, Naftogaz Ukrainy, are
to come to Tashkent before March 10th to meet with top management from Uzbek
national holding company Uzbekneftegaz to discuss opportunities to boost Uzbek
gas supplies to Ukraine, Ukrainian First Deputy Fuel and Energy Minister, Vadym
Chuprun, said in Kiev, Interfax News Agency reported on February 26th.
He said the deputy chairmen of the Naftogaz Ukrainy and Uzbekneftegaz boards
held a meeting during a recent visit to Kiev by Uzbek Prime Minister, Shavkat
Mirziyayev. According to Chuprun, the Uzbek side said up to 10 billion cubic
metres of natural gas might be supplied to Ukraine every year if free transit
capacities are available. The Ukrainian-Uzbek intergovernmental commission for
cooperation met in Kiev on February 19. Following the meeting, Ukrainian
Premier, Viktor Yanukovich, said that Ukraine intends to reach an agreement with
Uzbekistan to increase imports of Uzbek gas, which currently amount to about two
billion cubic metres. Uzbek natural gas is supplied to Ukraine by RosUkrEnergo,
which buys it from Gazprom Export.
Gazprom to increase purchases of Uzbek gas by one-third
Gazprom will export 13 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Uzbekistan in
2007, Maksut Anderzhanov, head of the Uzbek representation of Zarubezhneftegaz,
a Gazprom subsidiary, said, Interfax News Agency reported on February 19th.
"Uzbekneftegaz and Gazprom signed a contract in 2007 for the export of
Uzbek natural gas totalling 13 billion cubic metres," Anderzhanov said.
"In accordance with a strategic partnership agreement, more than seven
billion cubic metres of gas was exported to Russian from Uzbekistan in 2004 and
8.15 billion cubic metres in 2005. Planned procurements of Uzbek gas were
already nine billion cubic metres in 2006," he said. Thus, exports of Uzbek
gas will grow 33.3 per cent this year. Gazprom signed a contract with
Uzbekneftegaz for the supply of natural gas to Russia in 2007 at a price of
US$100 per 1,000 cubic metres. Gas prices have increased more than 60 per cent
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Pak-Uzbek JMC discusses economic cooperation
Pak-Uzbek Joint Ministerial Conference (JMC) kicked off to explore new avenues
of cooperation in the fields of economic and trade. Pakistani delegation was led
by Minister for Water and Power, Liaquat Ali Jatoi, and Uzbekistan delegation
was led by Uzbek Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, S Ismailov,
Interfax News Agency reported.
Welcoming the Uzbek delegation Jatoi said Pakistan and Uzbekistan enjoy very
cordial and brotherly relations as people of both the countries have the same
religion and traditional values and heritage. He pointed out that there is
tremendous scope of development in the field of economy and trade. Jatoi pointed
out that there is tremendous scope of development in the field of economy and
trade. He told that once the operation of Gwadar port starts on March 31, 2007,
trade activity between both the countries would gain a new boost. He also
stressed on increasing the frequency of visit by delegation of both the
countries. He said, "We have proposed to the Uzbek government for
establishing a National Bank branch to facilitate the businessmen to carry out
business activities". He said Uzbek produced best quality of cotton and
Pakistan is prepared to help set up textile mill in Uzbekistan to achieve
Pakistan is facing shortage of electricity and gas production so that Uzbekistan
can also help in overcoming the shortages. He said Pakistan produces best
quality of fruits particularly of citrus and it would be appreciated if Uzbek
decides to import it. Speaking on the occasion, Ismailov said that during the
visit of President Pervez Musharraf to his country it was decided to enhance
cooperation between the two brotherly countries. He said we had created
conducive environment for Pakistani businessmen to carry out business activities
in Uzbekistan. He expressed keenness on expansion of joint economic activities
in both the countries. "It is encouraging that Pakistan's economy was
emerging as strong and gaining strength with the passage of time. Uzbek economy
is also developing and its indicators are showing stability," said Ismailov.
After the meeting, both leaders agreed that the two countries had fruitful
Foreign investment jumps 20% in 2006
Foreign investment in Uzbekistan grew 20 per cent in 2006 compared with 2005 to
895.7 million Euro, the Economics Ministry said in materials published by the
local media, New Europe reported.
Foreign investment under sovereign guarantee rose 5.4 per cent to 211.9 million
Euro and direct investment was up 25.4 per cent to 683.8 million Euro.
Investment with sovereign guarantees accounted for 23.7 per cent of the total
investment, up from 22.7 per cent in 2005, and direct investment for 76.3 per
cent, down from 77.3 per cent. Industry received 68.3 per cent of the overall
investment, with around 50 per cent of the investment going into new technology
and the acquisition of new equipment. The fuel and energy sector, chemicals
industry, metallurgy and machine building sectors received 34.6 per cent of the
investment, the agricultural sector and consumer goods manufacturing got 17.8
per cent and the info-com sector received 15.3 per cent.
Vimpelcom invests 60m in developing its cellular network
VimpelCom invested 60 million Euro in developing its cellular network in
Uzbekistan in 2006, Yevgeny Ruban, general director of Unitel, a 100 per cent
subsidiary of VimpelCom, told Interfax News Agency on February 2nd.
The number of base station operators increased 90 per cent to around 600 in
Uzbekistan last year. The number of VimpelCom subscribers reached 766,000 in
2006. The company's market share was 28.2 per cent. "We expect to double
the subscriber base in 2007, which will support the technical development of our
company," Ruban said. The subscriber base continued to grow at a high rate
in January 2007, he said. Ruban did not reveal the planned amount of investment
for this year, however said, "the earlier announced investment of 150
million Euro for developing the network in Uzbekistan in 2006-2008 remains in