Sanjar Umarov Missing (Updated)

by Nathan Hamm on 10/23/2005 · 8 comments


October 23, 2005 (13:55 Tashkent time)

Sanjar Umarov missing gone missing in Tashkent

Yesterday, October 22 a massive attack by General-Prosecutor’s Office was unleashed on members of Sunshine Coalition.

As the result 5 people were detained by the General-Prosecutor’s Office, including the Coordinator of Sunshine Uzbekistan, Ms. Nadira Khidoyatova.

That same day, since 10pm October 22nd, Chairman of Sunshine Coalition Sanjar Umarov has gone missing. Although unconfirmed reports have pointed that he is being detained in the General Prosecutor’s Office in Tashkent, officials from General-Prosecutor’s office have told that he is held in Tashkent City Police Department. Search is continuing.

This attack by Uzbekistan’s authorities came right after Sanjar Umarov wrote a letter of compassion to Russian Foreign Minister during his visit to Tashkent.

More information, as it becomes available, will surely be found here.

Update: For those who haven’t seen it yet (it’s in the comments), check out this interview on the situation. Also, the following press release just came in.


October 24, 2005 (08:00 am Tashkent time)

Sanjar Umarov is still missing

Following up to our previous release regarding Sanjar Umarov’s disappearance, General-Prosecutor office has charged the Chairman of Sunshine Coalition Sunshine Uzbekistan, Sanjar Umarov with “stealing in large amount” Article 167 p.3 of Criminal Code, no other details are given. Official from the Prosecutor’s office have told that Mr. Umarov is being held in Tashkent City Police Department (TCPD) jail, but officials from the TCPD have denied this. Whereabouts and condition of Mr. Sanjar Umarov is still unknown.

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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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david_walther October 23, 2005 at 9:47 am

Wow. I don’t mean to be an “I told you so,” kind of guy, but if anybody reading this forum after all this time still has any doubts about what kind of government Uzbekistan has, I hope this kind of clears it up.

Anybody who has access to Russian language stuff like (I don’t anymore from Tashkent, everything has been fatally blocked for me) please POST updates on this rather than just links, cause a lot of us cannot get to the links.

I don’t know what to think about Mr. Umarov’s politics, but I certainly wish him and his staff to come through this all safely and with their families and bodies still intact…

Sardor October 23, 2005 at 11:06 am
Disillusioned kid October 23, 2005 at 1:27 pm

Looks like Umarov has been arrested for unspecified “economic crimes”. Full article as requested below.

Leader of Sunshine Uzbekistan coalition Sanjar Umarov was arrested in Tashkent on 23 October on the accusations of economic crimes. During a search at the Sunshine Coalition office all documents and computer disks were seized. Below is what coordinator of Sunshine Coalition Nadira Khidoyatova told Arena:

“Everything started last Monday when a car approached Sanjar Umarov’s house, and they wanted to take someone from the house. Since there was only the guard in the house, he called me and I came, and they asked me to go to the prosecutor’s office with them. When I asked why, they told me: ‘We’ll just call the squad and take you there. You will know when you get there. We have the right to use force to take you there.’ I told them I would go myself. At the prosecutor’s office, an investigator started asking me about Sanjar Umarov – where he lives, works, what he does. Of course, I wanted to know why he had been questioning me. He left the room to see his chief, then he came back and said there was a mistake, and let me go.

“You know that recently Sanjar Umarov visited the USA, where he held several important meetings and conducted a seminar at the George Washington University, where he publicly explained our position and economic concept. After that, he went to Russia, where he also had a number of important meetings and, in principle, received the support of the Russian side.

“It looks like everything was known here in Uzbekistan before his arrival, and they were ready to arrest him when he bought tickets to Uzbekistan. On Saturday [Oct.22], I was called to the prosecutor’s office and told to immediately provide them with documents related to my company Elsut Cotton Production. However, since there is a presidential decree that a company’s documents can be issued only to financial bodies and only if a criminal case was launched against that company, I told them about this. In half an hour, they brought me the criminal case against my company, explaining it that they have suspicions that I was hiding something.

“They warned that they would break my office door if I didn’t open. When I saw that they were filming everything on video, I realized they had a clear directive – to enter my office and definitely find some compromising materials.

“I opened the office and gave them the documents. In half an hour, they brought me the prosecutor’s search warrant. This was so fast – at 5pm they bring me the note about launch of the criminal case, and at 7pm they have the search warrant.

“There were about 40 people searching the office. They were wearing civilian clothes. Only 11 people signed the list of confiscated documents, although the full investigation department of the prosecutor’s office was present. Among them was deputy city prosecutor and deputy head of anti-corruption department Furkat Sattarov. They brought no attesting witnesses with them,

“The search started at 7pm and ended at 3.30am. They fully searched the office and broke everything that could be broken. Then they made a list of confiscated documents. Looking at this list, I can say that they were not interested in my economic affairs. For example, they confiscated ‘copies from Internet, 33 pages’, ‘draft poem, 4 pages’, ‘letter to Hillary Clinton’, ‘program of Nigara Hidoyatova’, ‘list of members of Sunshine Coalition’, various things related to politics. Phone books, business cards – they took away literally everything.

“We don’t know how Sanjar Umarov was arrested. At about 10pm, Sanjar came here to find out what was going on. He could not enter, he knocked on the door, then went out and disappeared. We searched him on the phone for the whole night and just found out that he was arrested in the morning.

“We were told he was not at the prosecutor’s office, then they said he was at the interior department, which is very easy to check, because he has to be registered. When a person arrives at interior department, he or she is registered there first. But when we learnt that he had not been registered, they told us that it was not important at all – ‘here’s the arrest warrant, and the prosecutor has already given the sanction’.

“The note says he has been arrested in connection with economic crimes. But Sanjar Umarov has never been brought to justice on any case, even as a witness. He has no business in Uzbekistan. The only thing he could do here is be a founder of some company.

“This is a total lawlessness: they always hide behind the law, but they open criminal cases in half an hour, and get prosecutor’s sanctions in one hour. This is unbelievable – I think nothing similar happens in any other country. There always should be some investigative process. In this case, there was no investigation in relation to Sanjar Umarov. It is clear that the arrest is politically motivated.”

Interview by Alexei Volosevich


Nathan October 23, 2005 at 8:42 pm

David, I’ve been too swamped to look for too much more stuff today. But a tricky little solution to your conundrum popped into my head. Perhaps you could access content through a web-based rss reader such as bloglines? publishes feeds. Bloglines fetches the content and you fetch it from bloglines. Might work, and I’d be curious to know if it did.

I’m a little hesitant to reproduce in full others’ content without express consent. (ARENA, RFE/RL, and Forum 18 are all kosher with citation, which takes a particular form in the case of RFE/RL.)

Sunshine Uzbekistan October 23, 2005 at 10:23 pm

Correction: The second press-release should be October 24, not October 23

A.U. October 23, 2005 at 10:24 pm
Bertrand October 24, 2005 at 6:33 am

As for access to blocked sites, there are a number of proxy servers that can be used to get around the government blockages. Rather than name them here (some of the proxy servers are now being blocked), just Google “proxy servers” or even “free proxy servers” and you’ll get a mind-boggling list.

As far as Sanjar Umarov, the situation as of late today Tashkent time is that his true whereabouts are still unknown. Others involved in the Sunshine Coalition are also fearing arrest, probably with good reason.

Also, the ever-present rumors about a shakeup in the Uzbek government are reaching something of a crescendo…or maybe just what appears to be a crescendo. Many people inside the government seem to want to be taking sides, but aren’t sure what side to take. I’ve recently remarked about this on this site, but the situation really seems to be ratcheting up.

Something will happen…maybe soon, maybe not. But it will happen.

david_walther October 24, 2005 at 9:10 pm

For the record, just so I don’t look like a computer novice, I am aware that one can use anonymizers to reach blocked sites—the problem was that all 6 or 8 anonymizers I used to use were all blocked themselves, and at one point, I just gave up. But thanks for the last tip, that one did work (at least for now).

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