Tashkent Jobs For Tashkent Residents

by Nathan Hamm on 12/19/2005 · 10 comments

Ferghana.ru reports that Tashkent region residents have been instructed to resign from government positions in the capital by December 31. Beginning January 1, these jobs will be off-limits to them.

Employees of state structures of the capital city of Tashkent residing in the Tashkent region received an unofficial warning the other day. They have by the end of the month to resign of their own volition, because jobs in Tashkent will become off bounds for residents of the Tashkent region as of January 1. No references to special resolutions of municipal bodies are made. The Tashkent khokimijat (mayoralty) denies that any such decisions have been made. Off the record, however, representatives of the Tashkent authorities admit that the Cabinet did release a special classified order to cleanse the capital city off residents of the region.

This confused me until I realized that city residents will still be able to hold their jobs and that this apparently only concerns municipal government positions. It’s really not unlike rules governing municipal positions in many US cities.*

Still though, has anyone heard anything about this? Is it merely a rumor?

*There was a little scandal of sorts when I lived in Philadelphia concerning an advisor to the mayor who lived in the suburbs. He, like any sane man, decided living in the suburbs was more important than drawing a city paycheck and resigned. It was kind of a shame as he was about the only person at the mayor’s office who was truly a pleasure to deal with.

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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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Brian December 19, 2005 at 4:40 pm

Well, I suppose it would be except the ratio of government jobs compared to private sector jobs is probably higher in Tashkent than Phili, and that you don’t have to get government permission to live in Philidelphia… as I think I understand you have to do in Tashkent.

Nathan December 19, 2005 at 5:53 pm

You’re definitely right. (Though the municpality employs a ridiculous number of people in Philadelphia…)

What’s different about this particular story to me is that it appears to be impacting legal residents of the region who work for the city government. Typically one only hears about steps directed at the illegal residents.

Brian December 19, 2005 at 9:39 pm

But the questions still is why? The scandal in Phili sounds like it was because of voter pressure and such. But surely there isn’t such “voter pressure” in Tashkent about this. Perhaps higher-ups thought that these people were ‘out-of-touch’? But don’t the rich and powerful live near the city center?

Nathan December 19, 2005 at 9:49 pm

Well, it was all part of the big issue behind the rule–if you want to work for the city, you should live in it.

I guess the same thing might as well be true in Tashkent, but I’m just kind of surprised that this would be done in this manner.

Juniper December 20, 2005 at 4:41 am

The surprise is that it was allowed to go on as long as it did.

Its a well none fact in Uzbekistan that you are only allowed to work in the Oblast you have a propiska for.

The residents of Tashkent Region and other lower cost areas of Uzbekistan have been coming to Tashkent for years to earn money. Later returning to thier low cost regions of Uzbekistan.

I guess it would be similiar to the situation you have in the U.S with Mexicans swimming the Rio Grande and later returning with pockets of cash made in the U.S.

If they are so interested in working in Tashkent they should come, buy property, and get thier propiska.

90% of the construction sites in Tashkent are filled with illegal workers. The companies pay huge tariffs to the Militsya to so the workers wont be arrested. The end result being a large population of Tashkent construction workers being unemployed or under paid.

Same situation in all occupational fields.

Nathan December 20, 2005 at 5:24 am

Ya, but this is about legal Tashkent oblast residents working only in municipal government jobs. What you’re describing has been met with selective and periodic crackdowns from time to time for quite a while. (And it’s a lot more complicated than just buying property and getting a propiska.)

uzari December 20, 2005 at 9:28 am

Juniper wrote:

“If they are so interested in working in Tashkent they should come, buy property, and get thier propiska.”

I’m not sure how acquainted you are with the Uzbek system, but this is not possible. One cannot just ‘get’ a Tashkent propiska. First, their distribution is currently closed – officially, they are not available to anyone. Second, though bribery is an integral part of the Uzbek bureaucratic system, Tashkent propiskas are so closely controlled that the amounts demanded are out of reach to all but the most connected. A very close acquaintance of mine from Khorezm who had been living on temporary propiskas as a student, was told by officials upon applying for the propiska that $2000 up front would make it a possibility, but nothing could be guaranteed. That is, she was just as likely to lose the entire $2K and get nothing. Earlier, she had fronted $800 for a propiska, and not gotten it. (Though most of the money was returned.) This is all despite the fact that she owns property in Tashkent.

The reality is that Uzbeks are de facto prisoners in their own country. If you are born in a city, you must stay there your whole life.

It is true that many construction and other manual laborers are ‘illegal immigrants’ from the provinces. This is clearly a reflection of the lack of economic oppportunities in their homes, and the result of the economic sanctions placed on Uzbeks by their own government. Even if they were more qualified, they could not get better jobs, as government and officially registered private jobs will not be given to those without a Tashkent propiska. Those who end up in Tashkent are those without the resources to escape to Kazakhstan or Russia.

Until now, with a Tashkent Region (so, including Chirchik and Angren) propiska, you could live and work in Tashkent. This meant that buying a cheap apartment in one of the villages (for $500-$1000) could get you a propiska with basically the same rights as a Tashkent city one. Apparently, the government has decided that even that opportunity is too broad for its citizens, who must be crushed and limited at every opportunity.

Brian December 20, 2005 at 9:53 am

How can you say Uzbek citizens getting a job in a nearby city with Mexican citizens crossing a border into a foreign country is the same thing? These are your own people, your own citizens, don’t they deserve a construction job if they are willing to travel to work every day, and work hard and accept less money?
You’re saying that just because some people are lucky enough to have a Tashkent propiska they are entitled to have a job, while those who do not must look elsewhere?

Besides, Tashkent is the richest part of the country anyway.

Lyndon December 20, 2005 at 9:00 pm

Funny how the Soviet propiska system continues to bedevil people who would like to be upwardly mobile but were not fortunate enough to be born in the capital. The situation is similar in Russia with respect to Moscow – although the propiska system was declared unconstitutional years ago, it still creates issues for non-Muscovites who want to come to the capital to get a job.

It sounds like what’s happened with respect to the oblast residents who are city workers is fairly serious – they moved to the suburbs of Tashkent thinking this would allow them to work for the city gov’t in Tashkent, and now that opportunity is being taken away from them. Keep in mind that city government positions are not small in number in cities like this – you’re talking about all of the city’s janitors and sanitation workers, possibly law enforcement workers, as well as (perhaps) apartment maintenance men, plumbers, and their dispatchers – maybe even city public transit workers and teachers.

In Moscow (which I’m using as a point of comparison because it’s what I know and because I think the situation is likely quite similar – the Soviet legacy of state-employed maintenance people, non-outsourced sanitation services, etc.), the low salaries people employed in these positions receive often make it impossible for them to live in the capital itself, and so they live in the Oblast, where real estate is much, much cheaper. When you see ads in Moscow recruiting for the militsia or the metro, they are very specific about the fact that you are eligible for such jobs if you live in the Oblast. I can’t imagine what would happen if a measure were introduced in Moscow banning Oblast residents from employment with city “state structures.” My guess would be that such a measure would result in protests, demonstrations, etc.

It’s hard to tell from the statement who this covers, since “state structures” is a phrase that can be interpreted broadly or narrowly. So maybe this isn’t such a big deal after all. However, all of the groups listed above could plausibly fall into a broader interpretation of “state structures,” and if all of those workers are fired it seems like a destabilizing event, and something that no competent government would do.

One other thing worth mentioning is that, if the propiska situation in Tashkent is anything like that in Moscow (and it sounds from some of the comments above like it is), many people who live in the city itself are actually registered as living in the oblast, because that is a cheaper propiska to acquire.

So, picture this: you’ve moved to Tashkent from the provinces, found a family friend who could hook you up with a Tashkent oblast propiska, rented an apartment in the city itself, or maybe are living in a shared apartment situation with a friend or relative to save money, and have found a job working for a “state structure” – now you’re told that your stable existence is about to come to an end. Of course, the most important thing is what we don’t know from the statement above – i.e., to what groups of employees this applies – but if it applies to all municipal service employees, this could create problems for lots of people. This is a perfect illustration of why people in precarious economic situations get screwed in post-Soviet societies – they try to employ the cheapest way to live by the rules (i.e., paying the more inexpensive bribe in the oblast), but the government then changes the rules on them. And, not to make too much out of this, but it’s the economically marginalized and inequitably treated members of society who can wind up in the streets when they reach their breaking point.

As an aside, I wonder whether Juniper or his/her Tashkent friends are enthusiastic about working construction jobs out in the hot sun all day. I didn’t think so. Just like none of the Rodina supporters in Moscow wants to be out sweeping the sidewalks or selling food in an outdoor market all day, yet they want to rid the city of non-Russians (including many Uzbeks) who do these jobs. Anti-migrant bigotry is still bigotry, even if it’s directed at people from a different part of your own country who happen to be of the same ethnic background. I guess there are always some people who think they are somehow better human beings because they had the good fortune to be born in a more advantaged location.

By the way, there’s a move afoot in the US to set up a “guest worker” program so that people don’t have to swim the Rio Grande in order to provide American society with the benefits of their inexpensive labor. Obviously, you won’t see Mexican citizens working for US city governments any time soon, but the point is that people in the labor force should be free to seek their fortune wherever there’s demand for their services. The restrictive propiska system prevents people from doing this even within their own country, which is a ridiculous situation in any country that tries to hold itself out as being “free” in any sense of the word.

Azjon December 31, 2005 at 7:51 pm

To Lyndon and others
OOO man propiska issue!!! When I left Tashkent for good I ended my propiska, people told me that I was crazy. Propiska is like a Matrix only the crappy kind without computers. All is done on paper. Hate propiska. It is an issue in Russia as well. I almost got deported from Russia for being without propiska. Yes if you want to ask I’m a Russian citizen, but they dont care. because for them I was “blackass” Uzbek who didn’t belong in Russia. Man do I hate propiska. Lots of money spent to get one just to be cancelled as soon as I left for the US. Also, to say that Mexican American border migration is like propiska is not very accurate. In Uzbekistan as well as in Russia it is what I call an internal deportation. Even more similarities to old soviet regime. You made a good point here my friend by saying “they want to rid the city of non-Russians (including many Uzbeks) who do these jobs” I was robbed by Moscow militsia several times and sent back to where I came form one time. I know all about the issue first hand. I had to face a panel of city heads to get my propiska and they didn’t hesitate to make rasist comments at all.But in the end bribes did what I couldn’t.
My best regards

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