Uzbekistan — Buyuk kelajak bo'lgan Davlat!

This blog is dedicated to providing rigorous analysis of current events in Uzbekistan. Debate and criticism are welcome, please inform me if you would like to offer a correction.


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Remittances from Russia Continue to Decline

The effects of the current economic crisis in Russia have been felt throughout the region, often reaching Central Asian nations through the sudden crunch in the value of remittances being sent from migrant workers in Russia. The original shocking numbers were released in June of 2016, when the Central Bank of Russia announced that the value of remittances for the first quarter of 2016 were a paltry $27 million, less that 20% of the remittance value for the previous year’s quarter. This precipitous decline continued in the spring of 2016, with remittances for the second quarter further declining to $21 million. The values of individual measured money transfers have only declined slightly in the past year, meaning that the decline in remittances reflects not only decreases in earned wages, but major job cuts and a rapid exit of Uzbekistani migrant workers from the Russian labour market. This Central Asian exodus from Russia is driven by a combination of economic and social factors which make young men less likely to seek out work in Russia and existing migrant workers less likely to stay there.
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Shavkat Mirziyoyev Halts Regional Purges

A set script for regime change in undemocratic countries — the dichotomy between free and unfree being set by the scrupulous standards of the advanced democracies of Western Europe, North America, and the Antipodes — is clear: a new strongman steps into the old strongman’s shoes, uses whatever means are available to punish those who argued against his ascendance, and gradually replaces disloyal cronies of the old guard with his personal cronies. As usual, this typified dictatorial picture utterly fails to predict or encompass the realities of government transition in Uzbekistan. The newest surprise on the predicted trajectory of Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the interim President, is that the purges of the old guard appear to have stopped less than a week after starting. In the first two weeks following the death of Mr. Karimov, Mr. Mirziyoyev seemed surprising ambitious, making major plays against institutional rivals in the presidential apparat — especially Mr. G’aniev — and descending upon areas of industrial development like an angel of death come to reap the souls (and jobs) of incompetent or corrupt officials. On the 21 September 2016, however, this behavior suddenly changed; the purges abruptly ended. All other aspects of Mr. Mirziyoyev’s government remained intact, but the dismissal or punishment of corrupt officials neither characterized neither government in metropolitan Tashkent nor the tours of the provinces. Assuredly the officials overseeing a tire factory in Angren are not less corrupt than those responsible for cotton procurement in Jizzax, meaning that there is larger political reason that local officials were fired on 20 September and retained on 21 September.
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Labour Minister Speaks on Employment

On 30 September 2016, Aziz Abduxakimov, the Minister of Labour and the Social Welfare of the Population, presented his report on employment to the Qonunchilik Palatasi, the lower house of the Oily Majlis. The report confirmed two facts about the government’s employment policies: that they are struggling to keep pace with population growth, and that they are focused towards creating new jobs for the young rather than helping to reemploy older workers. The statistics aside, the relationship between the Minister and the Qonunchilik Palatasi demonstrated in this review reaffirms the influence of the Oliy Majlis in Uzbekistani politics; this will be especially true for whatever government succeeds the Karimov administration.
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Shavkat Mirziyoyev Chips Away at the Security State

Uzbekistan is, along with Turkmenistan, the post-Soviet state that has done the least to dismantle the expansive and oppressive security apparatus inherited from the USSR. With the new legislation passed on 23 September 2016, Uzbekistan may have taken another step towards eroding this edifice by establishing the first restrictions on the pervasive electronic surveillance which characterizes Uzbekistani society.
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Decision Uzbekistan

The dates have been set and candidates named for what will easily be the most momentous event in Uzbekistan political history since independence. Only a few times in each country’s history is there a clear and identifiable choice about the future, and the presidential elections scheduled for 4 December 2016 are one such opportunity. Most elections feature incumbents of one form or another, a path of the known that cautious voters can plant themselves on; this is not so for the December elections, where for the first time in Uzbekistani history, the country’s founder and former President, Islom Karimov, will not being competing. Although they rose to power within the Karimov administration, all four candidates are very different politicians from the late Mr. Karimov and represent major departures from the former president’s vision of Uzbekistan. Unlike past elections, in which the immense political capital of the first and only President overwhelmed political opposition and limited all rival candidates to below 10% of the national vote, the election held this December will have no clear winner and no predictable outcome. While there are many objections to declaring the elections ‘free’ — there is no indication that the Ministry of Justice will be anymore willing to register Islamist or Neoliberal parties than before Mr. Karimov’s passing — they will represent a genuine and ‘fair’ competition between four powerful elites of the political class for the support of the roughly 20 million voters expected to participate in the December elections.
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Prices Set for Cotton Procurement

The government of Uzbekistan officially announced the prices that O’zpaxtasanoat — the government stock company responsible for purchasing and processing the country’s “white gold” — will pay farmers for their crop. Although the company reserves the right to pay farmers more or less depending on the quality of the cotton produced, the price being paid for one kilogram of medium‐quality cotton is set at 285 so’m, an increase of 9% from the price paid last year. This changes in wages are extremely important in Uzbekistan, where approximately 20% of all arable land and slight less than that portion of the population is involved in cotton production, as millions of people are dependent on cotton procurement as their main source of income.
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Shavkat Mirziyoyev seeks political support abroad

Following his sidelining of several key ministers — Elyor G’aniev first among them — by creating alternative advisory and supervisory bodies, interim President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has been actively seeking new allies to support his fledging government. Mr. Mirziyoyev has recently alienated a number of key players in Uzbekistani politics and has had trouble finding supporters outside of the Senate and his Deputy Prime Ministers. He has secured the right to the nomination for the O’zbekiston Liberal Demokratik Partiyasi, but this is not secure and he will need more supporters than Mr. Azimov and Mr. Yo’ldashev if Mr. Mirziyoyev genuinely intents to win the Presidential elections. Facing a lack of new supporters at home — most ministers and the security organs appear prepared to wait it out for another few weeks before backing a candidate for the Presidency— Mr. Mizriyoyev has turned to the leadership of other post‐Soviet states to endorse his succession to the Uzbekistani presidency.
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