by Nathan Hamm on 5/13/2005 · 14 comments

Courtesty of Andy, check out the BBC’s Newsnight. The Uzbekistan report starts at about 14:30. Craig Murray, who went to a meeting one time in Andijon and met two of the 23 prisoners who this whole deal was all about, is featured. His explanation for the events of the past few days strikes me as so simplistic that I again have to say that he’s a pretty poor authority to turn to.

PRI’s The World devoted the first ten minutes of its program to Uzbekistan this evening. Check it out.

Feel free to post more audio and video in the comments.


Photos (probably not for the squeamish) via Lyndon who has more here.

Reader David sent along ORT video. I didn’t get a chance to watch them all, but I think each is different. Here they are: one, two, and three. At the bottom of each page, click the link that says ” видеофрагмент” for the video.

Martha Brill Olcott is on NPR’s All Things Considered right now. Audio should be posted at 7:30 EST.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

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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Jim Hoft May 14, 2005 at 12:56 am

Nathan- I have another video clip from the AP here:


I am thoroughly impressed with your contacts and knowledge! There is no one who has more information on the situation than you.

Phil Bailey May 14, 2005 at 5:47 am

I’m not impressed at all Jim. The site appears to be one long apologia to a fascist tyrrany. I’m sure it’s nothing to do with the U.S. airbase there, nor Jack Straw’s willingness to accept “intelligence” (ha!) from Karimov’s torture victims.

Your attempts to smear Murray are a disgrace. Given the choice between a former British ambassador who stuck his neck out to condemn tyrrany and a neocon Peace Corpse dude with an agenda ……well, there’s really no choice.

david lewis May 14, 2005 at 6:06 am

Can anyone give a precis of what Murray had to say? Couldn’t open this link unfortunately. He’s usually pretty interesting, whether you agree with him or not – what was his simplistic version of events?

Andy May 14, 2005 at 7:00 am

David – I’ve just listened through the Murray interview, and this is my paraphrased transcript of what he said (typed real-time, so spelling mistakes, errors and ommissions entirely my own):

Reason for unrest is crackdown on opposition following Kyrgyzstan revolution. Gov’t sweeping up dissidents and accusing them of being militants – which is not true.

He knows Andijan quite well. Democratic Forum (political party?) included two of the accused – Murray went to one of their meetings.

These people are Islamic by religion, but about as extremist as the government of Turkey.

They are not terrorists. For the Bush administration to label them as so is wrong.

99% conviction rate in Uzbekistan which means there is no chance they would have had a fair trial.

When pushed on Western democracy promotion he said that he would hope for democracy in Uzbekistan, but that America has done almost nothing to help the democratic cause in Uzbekistan. Uzbek elections were same day as Ukrainian elections, but “we didn’t see Colin Powell and Condozeelza Rice on telly banging on about Uzbekistan”. US interest in FSU democracy very selective.

His conclusion: Regime too repressive for a democratic revolution in Uzbekistan.

david_walther May 14, 2005 at 7:23 am


I fail to see where you are coming from. There has not been a single statement here defending Karimov or his actions, or the government of Uzbekistan. On the contrary, those of us who are participating in this site right now are trying to get some information out there about the tragedy that is happening right now, for some of us uncomfortably close. I have had my disagreements in the past with some participants here (look up my first post if you don’t believe me), but right now I’m really thankful to have this site and the participation of others finding news in several languages.

david lewis May 14, 2005 at 7:42 am

Thanks Andy, that’s really useful. Maybe not all the answers, but I wouldn’t say it was too ‘simplistic’ to blame it on repression. However, as a previous post said, the economic element is also important. And also I’d argue this has been brewing for some time, and not just since the Kyrgyz events. Things have really been going downhill since the restrictions on bazaar trade were introduced back in 2002-03, and then the additional restrictions introduced in late 2004 that led to the riot in Kokand in November.

The Akramiya group may well still be around, but seems to me not a terribly dangerous phenomenon, more of an economic community action program, with a bit of an Islamic veneer. Clearly the defendants in the trial were popular in Andijan, partly because they employed a lot of people. As Kyrgyzstan showed, as soon as you start going after people with a bit of money and authority (rather than isolated human rights activists or journalists) you start having problems.

Nathan May 14, 2005 at 8:57 am

It’s too simplistic to blame it on repression blandly and on the events in Kyrgyzstan. The roots of most of the frustration are more plausibly economic. His explanation is too short-term for me to accept it. But then again, I’ve never been convinced he actually knows all that much about Uzbekistan. Though you can search my site to see why.

Lyndon May 14, 2005 at 8:57 am

Isn’t it possible that this uprising has its roots in violations of both economic and civil rights? If you want to repress dissidents, one of the best things to do is to take away their livelihood so that they have no platform of financial stability from which to mount a challenge to the regime. This, some would argue, is what happened to Khodorkovsky in Russia, although the scale of wealth and threat to power is obviously not comparable. Dee Warren has an interesting take on the underlying factors here – http://noughsaid.blogs.com/wanderluster/2005/05/stirred_not_sha.html

Phil, I have to say that since Nathan’s been linking to my translations of Ferghana.ru articles (hardly a pro-Karimov media outlet, and that’s just for example), I think your accusations of bias are a bit over the top. I am not really an expert on Central Asia, but my impression is that this site is more balanced than most blogs.

Nathan May 14, 2005 at 9:02 am

And Phil, you’re a fucking naive hack. You can shove Indymedia’s line on me right up your know-nothing ass.

Sure, I’ve got an agenda. Don’t fuck up Uzbekistan and try to do what’s best long-term. Murray? I know he wants what’s best, but I think he’s hopelessly shortsighted.

If you want frothing head-banging and not a more balanced discussion in which you might learn something, pick up an go somewhere else.

david lewis May 14, 2005 at 9:40 am

Wow, its getting a bit frothy for me. I’m a newcomer to the site, looked quite interesting but didn’t realise there was some huge hang-up about murray here. Whenever I’ve met him, I’ve found him better informed that most western diplomats, certainly better than most other ambassadors.

Its a bit banal this ‘is it repression, is it economics’, of course its both, but its about who you repress, and how many relatives/supporters/money they have. But the interesting questions are bigger, about the akramiya-labelled businessmen – do they have sufficient weight/connections elsewhere in the valley or in Tashkent (note the arrest of some of their business partners) to promote further unrest for example, or are they a purely andijan phenomenon? And will the widespread discontent elsewhere start to be used by ambitious elites for their own purposes – the fergana criminal groups for example. And so on…. But perhaps this is not the site for that kind of serious discussion.

Nathan May 14, 2005 at 9:49 am

No David, it is and we try to make sure it stays that way.

There is some history, and while I’ve been somewhat nasty at times, I have tried to have some Murray-free discussions of the issues he brings up. I found such discussions fairly productive until people started calling me a fascist apologist for not agreeing with Murray. I’ve got a short temper when it comes to people who spend a couple minutes perusing the site take to calling me things I’m not. And I reference indymedia because they wrote an article on me saying exactly what Phil said.

I’m all for disagreement, but I’m also a huge fan of reading what others say.

(And as for Murray, I won’t rehash everything here, you can check my archives.)

Matt W May 14, 2005 at 11:33 am

David– I’m not terribly sure who exactly the Akramiya-labelled businessmen are, but many people with important connections to the former hokims and families losing influence are rumored to be in jail. See my other post (in the above thread on IMU) for more detail on this.

As of several months ago, at least, Andijon clans were well-placed in the Republican-level Customs (Botirjon Parpiyev) and the Republican Procuracy (though I can’t say that this is exhaustive). Both of these families have relatives that were well-placed on the local level. I’m unsure if and how the purge of the Andijon local state government half a year ago affected their republican-level relatives, but in general, Samarqand elites and the Tashkent Hokimiyat have been in the ascendancy and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if customs, as “oily” as it is, changed hands.

As for ties with Fergana and Namangan, hard to say, but they have been on different purge schedules, which may imply that the top political elite is not linked terribly closely.

david l May 14, 2005 at 2:19 pm

Its a good point you made about Obidov – I also heard his son was arrested, certainly he stopped turning up at those Osh casinos he liked so much. Probably they just got a little too greedy with illegal cotton smuggling. Certainly Obidov was there for years, much longer than most hokims, and had a reputation for being the most corrupt of all of them (a tough competition of course).

But if serious (semi-criminal) elites are involved then this is potentially much more serious, and feeds into the top-level power struggle. But given the traditional dislike of different fergana regions for each other, there’s potential for a continuation of divide-and-rule from karimov in the valley.

Lyndon May 14, 2005 at 3:59 pm

Getting back to the original request for A/V material in the comments, here are a couple of sources for photos:

From AFP – http://scrapsofmoscow.blogspot.com/2005/05/images-from-andijan.html

From NTV – http://scrapsofmoscow.blogspot.com/2005/05/photos-from-ntv.html

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