Olesya Ryzhova on Why Uzbekistan Looks Towards Russia

by Laurence on 8/14/2005 · 2 comments

Olesya Ryzhova’s debate with Matt W in our comments section led me to her very interesting analysis of why Uzbekistan is looking to Russia rather than an American-supported “color revolution”. Her conclusion:

Tribalism and clan loyalty have a major impact on the political, economic and social developments within the Central Asian republics and will most likely continue to gain more strength as the Soviet values gradually give way to nationalist, and mostly regionalist, sentiments. What is at stake here is not democracy but the very integrity of the states themselves.

The republics run the risk of being split into separate regional segments. The southern part of Kyrgyzstan and the Uzbek Ferghana Valley could potentially form an independent territorial entity and further proclaim itself a sovereign state. Of course, such developments would inevitably be accompanied by violence and thousands of civilian casualties. If dealing with just of one the -stans has proved to be unbearably hard, one can only imagine how much effort it would take to address the problems of, say, a dozen of smaller, yet similar, regional entities.

With regard to Uzbekistan, in particular, it can be stated with confidence that the pseudo-democratic movements such as the Sunny Uzbekistan Coalition and the like will be unable to keep such disintegration tendencies under control. Therefore, even from a purely theoretical perspective a green revolution in Uzbekistan cannot be considered a key to resolving the existing regional tensions. Unless economic improvements are introduced nothing can prevent a major depression from hitting Uzbekistan full blast.

What is required of the current regime at this point is regional cooperation in fighting poverty and unemployment. Russia could have a crucial role to play in this process by acting as a mediator and resolving conflicts between the countries. Most importantly, the Russian government will have to invest generously into the economies of the Central Asian republics in order to have its way in the regional politics.

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Bertrand August 15, 2005 at 12:38 am

While there are many interesting points in this commentary, it misses the boat on several key points. The most serious is the author’s contention that the U.S. is abandoning efforts in Uzbekistan. A wide range of U.S. funded projects continue to operate, albeit under extremely difficult circumstances.

The notion that Russia has the ability to “generously invest” in CA may well be little more than wishful thinking. Russia has done a good job of papering over its own economic woes in many cases, but those woes remain and in some areas are worsening.

Beyond that, one wonders if Russia has any real interest in being a mediator or conciliator in CA outside the maintenance of its own interests. Rather than mediate, it might be more reasonable to expect Russia – if it does gain new influence in the region – will simply work to prop up repressive forces.

Matt W August 15, 2005 at 10:23 am

Not to mention that the author works on the assumption that all three revolutions were orchestrated by the U.S.A.– perhaps accepted if all your readers have access to is ORT, but for the rest of the world something you have to back up or qualify in order to be taken seriously.

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