Cracks in Uzbek Stability

by Nathan Hamm on 11/4/2004

Reuters reports that opposition politicians in Uzbekistan are saying that the Kokand riots reveal widening cracks in Uzbekistan’s stability.

“People have reached the limit,” said Atkham Mukhitdinov, a local member of the secular Birlik party, which like other opposition parties is banned from running in Uzbek elections.

“They stood up for their rights. If they rise up again it will be a bad example for other towns,” he said.

According to Marat Zakhidov, chairman of the opposition Party of Agrarians and Entrepreneurs, similar but smaller protests broke out in the nearby cities of Ferghana and Margilan on Tuesday.

One opposition Web site ( reported that 100 women blocked a road in Ferghana and threatened to set themselves on fire unless officials re-opened a local market.

Neither report could be independently confirmed and local police could not be reached for comment.

“It’s no accident that this started in the Ferghana Valley because that’s where there is the toughest economic situation,” said Zakhidov. “The simple fact is people cannot earn their crust there. They don’t sit in the bazaar because life is good.”

The Association for Democracy in Uzbekistan’s report on the Ferghana incident can be found here.

These small protests have occurred a few times in the Ferghana Valley over the last year or so, and they probably will continue to occur. In fact, watch for another in Kokand. The government is committed to enforcing the new market rules.

“The Hokim cannot ignore the government’s decision,” said Salomat Abdullayeva, Kokand’s deputy mayor. “The traders have to acquire cash registers and pick up the culture of trading.”

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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