Ferghana.Ru: Interpreting the Putin-Karimov Summit

by Laurence on 6/28/2005

Ferghana.Ru editor Daniel Kislov has an interesting analysis of the possible significance of this week’s Putin-Karimov meeting in Moscow. Kislov thinks Russia’s involvement is:

1. motivated by the politics of oil;
2. reflects pro-Russian sentiment in the Ferghana valley, even among the
Akromean protesters;
3. related to a search for Karimov’s successor.

Kislov apparently believes Uzbekistan’s “divorce” from the United States began before Andijan, in the context of Russia’s traditional role of “older brother” in Central Asia. He contrasts Karimov’s Russian trip with Erk leader Mohammed Solih’s visit to America.

An excerpt:

Realities of geopolitics and major businesses are such that Russia is quite content to overlook the true motives behind anti-government riots in Andizhan. The way it overlooked violations of Russian-speakers’ rights in Turkmenistan once, trading “100,000 Russians for gas” as journalists put it. Calculating future dividends promised by production and transportation of Uzbek fuel, the Kremlin “fails” to notice that it was not Hizb-ut-Takhrir activists or terrorists speaking up in Andizhan, it was the still pro-Russian locals. When one of the leaders of the Akromeans pleaded with Russia to intercede on behalf of the rebels, official Moscow turned a deaf ear to it.

The Russian establishment pretends not to notice that the seat under the president of Uzbekistan is already rocking. It will be a height of naivete to assume, however, that Moscow is not looking for the Uzbek president’s successor at the same time. Gulnara Karimova has been in Moscow since the last but one summer. Karimova is known to be quite close to Presidential Adviser Sergei Yastrzhembsky. Even if Ikar Abduganiyevich’s daughter herself does not aspire for presidency, consultations over the successor are certainly under way with her. Karimova is one of the most influential people in Uzbek politics and businesses nowadays.

Moscow has never maintained any official or even clandestine contacts with the Uzbek opposition. They will become unavoidable, sooner or later. The Kremlin still has to become acquainted with truly independent players in the field and with puppets.

Sanzhar Umarov, leader of the Sunny Coalition viewed by many as Karimova’s creature, is visiting Moscow on the invitation from Russian political and business circles. Umarov moved into the spotlight only recently. The man who established Uzdunrobita, the largest cell communications provider in Uzbekistan, who was in charge of deliveries of missile fuel for the counter-terrorism coalition, and who spent the last several years in the United States, calls himself an oligarch. Program of his party or movement (the republican Justice Ministry has not registered it so far) is piously eloquent on liberalization of all spheres of national economy and political life.

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