“Sunny Uzbekistan” Leader Speaks Out

by Laurence on 6/22/2005 · 9 comments

This interview with Sanjar Umarov, leader of the “Sunny Uzbekistan” opposition coalition, sounds pretty reasonable. If he’s secretly Karimov’s puppet, as some critical comments on this blog have suggested, he doesn’t sound like it:

A: The events in Andijan have revealed the real nature of the current regime to every citizen of Uzbekistan. How can one not be shocked when our security services and armed forces open fire on women and children? The realisation that this did happen and that it could happen again, has shocked the people out of their prolonged state of political apathy.
Sunshine Uzbekistan exists so that these average people, who in the past may not have wanted to risk being labelled as an extremist or revolutionary, can have a place to express their hopes and desires for a peaceful end to the current regime’s cruelty towards its own people.
Q: Do you see such incidents as a source of destabilisation in the country?
A: The possibility of such incidents, if desperation takes people once again to the streets and they are met with the same action by our security services, haunts all thoughtful Uzbeks. The tragedy of the current regime is that they don’t understand that their unwillingness to engage in a dialogue with the democratic opposition is the most immediate source of instability in Uzbekistan today.

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Kisa June 22, 2005 at 11:05 am

There is a saying in Russian, “vse vokrug da okolo.” He is not blaming Karimov. He is saying “regime”. Nothing in particular, nothing specific.

jonathan p June 22, 2005 at 12:30 pm

He may be dancing around the word “Karimov,” but I think that’s probably a smart thing to avoid saying if he wants to remain a free man. He didn’t seem to me to be necessarily holding his punches in regards to a need for an overhaul of the government aparatus.

Now, whether or not any meaningful change can be brought about with Karimov in office is another question. We may never see change as long as he is there (it’s pretty clear that he’s a big part of the problem). But the only hope for constitutionally legitimate change in Uz is if Karimov (by some miracle) cleans house and lessens the grip that the “selfish clique” has on the country.

I’m not so naive to think that Karimov himself is not a major part of the clique. But that’s not really my point. My point is this: What is the alternative? Armed rebellion? Civil war? Because that’s what it will take to remove Karimov before he’s good and ready to go of his own volition. Until then, I think it wise to appeal to Karimov, for the sake of his “vatan,” to take real steps toward reform.

Umarov seems to me to be taking a good tack when he says he wants to work within the constitution and work with Karimov to improve the country. It reminds me of something people might do in an open and free society. Legitimate opposition groups don’t just go around calling for the head of the president.

I say (until shown otherwise): Umarov molodets!

ps – vatan means motherland

Kisa June 22, 2005 at 1:23 pm

Jonathan, everyone has their opinion. I know Umarov very well. I also know that what Karimov is like. I think that we already see, that nobody can work with Karimov. No, I am not saying that the opposition groups should be going around for calling for the head of the president. However, they could call for his resignation.
P.S. Thanks for the translation of “vatan”, I am a native Uzbek.

david_walther June 22, 2005 at 1:23 pm

Kisa, are you also here in Uzbekistan?

Jonathan, you may well be right, but there is still something very weird about the fact that this guy is allowed to publish this stuff while everyone else is on house arrest or worse. Granted, he’s a billionare, not just somebody you push around, but democracy does’t exist here, so you know well that most things are orchestrated in some way or another. This guy obviously has friends in high places, and I think it’s going to be very interesting to begin to find out who they are.

Kisa June 22, 2005 at 1:35 pm


I am actually in US. I grew up with Uzbekistan’s politics and I have been advocating on behalf of the secular opposition and therefore, my comments in regards to Umarov, are not just to sit and yell here, they are valid. As I mentioned before, I know him very well, and you are right, the fact that nobody harasses him IS sketchy. He does have connections with the high ranking officials in the government. Thats’ all I am going to say for now.
P.S. Thank you for your comments.

jonathan p June 23, 2005 at 2:59 am

I figured you knew what vatan meant. That was for everybody else. 😉
I understand how this Umarov character is suspicious. It’s obvious he has connections. I do not dispute this. Everybody with any influence in Uzbekistan is dirty. So?!?

Kisa June 23, 2005 at 9:24 am


So, he is NOT molodets!

Sardor July 31, 2005 at 3:22 am

lol.. he’s not a billionaire….
Kisa you seem to be very negative towards this person… what did he do to you?

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