Interview on Andijon

by Nathan Hamm on 5/27/2005

MosNews has an interesting interview with Andrei Grozin, a CIS Institute expert on Central Asia. I agree with him that Uzbekistan’s government isn’t about to fall. I haven’t gone over it with a fine-tooth comb, but the Grozin seems to be right on the money on all the big issues. Reform is needed. The Uzbek government’s attempts at reform are inconsistent. Protests will keep popping up. Outside help is necessary. The protest in Andijon consisted of groups with different agendas.

I found the following long excerpt particularly interesting.

We can probably talk about a crisis that involves the so-called Uzbek development model. But it’s not a crisis that cannot be overcome. The government, in general, is trying to implement reforms: it has lifted price control on grain, energy tariffs are on the rise. A number of unpopular decisions have been made. But what is characteristic about these reforms is their inconsistency. The outcomes of economic decisions are weakly estimated. If the authorities see opposition from the population, they hurry to abandon the decision. There is a group of people that are considered reformers, but their influence is pretty small. We can say that Rustam Azimov is a favorite of Islam Karimov. In different times and to various extents, he was considered a possible successor. But we can just as accurately say that the successor will be the [security official] Rustam Anayatov.

This is not the last uprising. No matter how harshly it is suppressed, problems and unresolved issues will still remain: overpopulation, lack of resources, in the first place of land and water. In essence, Uzbekistan has built itself a late-Soviet model state capitalism with the lower elements of a market that existed in the East under Leonid Brezhnev. At the same time, its neighbors — Kyrgyzstan, despite the fact that it is a poor, mountainous country, and especially Kazakhstan — are demonstrating much more rapid rates of economic development.

Overpopulation, unemployment, horrendous corruption — these are the burdens that weigh upon the Uzbek government. Karimov is clearly aware that Uzbekistan — a state that, as officials like to say, has a great future — has limits that it cannot overcome independently. It cannot count on progress without an outside center that would sponsor reform, without a new leader who will not be weighed down by the baggage of past decisions.

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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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