Uzbekistan’s Disappearing Dictator

by Nathan Hamm on 1/29/2007 · 6 comments

Quotations are disappearing from Islam Karimov’s lips on signs and billboards across Uzbekistan while photos of the president are being taken down or put in locations where they cannot be vandalized in educational institutions, reports Professor Olim Hasanov for UzNews.

Hasanov says that in early December, Karimov’s quotation, “The state has no future that does not value science and scientists,” began disappearing from educational institutions and billboards. Rumors that Karimov did not actually come up with this quotation, which Hasanov actually claims authorship of, seemed the cause for its removal. Were that the only quotation to be taken down, this would merely be an interesting little oddity of a story, but something bigger appears to be at work here. Hasanov says that all of the following quotations are being removed as well:

  • “Uzbekistan is a state with a great future.”
  • “We are not inferior to anyone and we will not be worse than others.”
  • “Allah is in my soul and in my heart.”


These quotations, says Hasanov, remind the public of the government’s shortcomings and provoke bitter reactions. The first two remind the public that Karimov has failed to propel Uzbekistan to greatness, while the Andijon events, says Hasanov, remind the public that Karimov persecutes Muslims.

Given that last bit there, it is overwhelmingly obvious that Hasanov has an agenda, and as a result, I am somewhat skeptical of exactly how widespread or meaningful the removal of Karimov photos and quotations from public view is. I know that there are a decent number of readers in Uzbekistan who might be able to shed some light on this story, so any information would be quite appreciated.

That being said, the diminished public presence of Islam Karimov’s image and his pearls of wisdom is interesting even if limited. Hasanov says that most believe the removals to be linked to this year’s expected presidential election and to remove a source of public irritation. Whether an irritant or not, this almost certainly does have to do with the presidential election. It is hard to believe that removing some billboards will give Karimov a lower profile or that as a result the public will forget any negative feelings they may harbor. So what is behind this? Will campaign advertisements go up in their stead? (Though this would not explain the removal of quotations from schools.) Or will the political wisdom of a chosen successor to the term-limited Karimov start appearing instead (rather than just the musical skills of Lola)?


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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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{ 6 comments }

Roger Williams January 29, 2007 at 11:41 pm

Love the post, and love the blog! I made sure to give you a shoutout when discussing this on my own humble dictator blog.

saroyan January 30, 2007 at 4:26 am

Never cared much about these quotations. But hey.. Pakhtakor won the CIS Cup! Asia, watch out!

Nomad January 30, 2007 at 8:42 pm

Hmm, haven’t seen any noteable change since ever, only that His Excellency is not being shown much on TV. Happy for fans of Pakhtakor. Viva Pakhtakor!

Nathan January 30, 2007 at 10:28 pm

My inclination is that if it was all that meaningful, it would be more noticeable. But then again, even if it is going on at a small scale, it’s interesting.

Brian II January 31, 2007 at 4:03 am

There are a lot more Shahruh billboards up around Tashkent…and it’s an election year…hmmm….

Ataman Rakin February 1, 2007 at 5:44 am

“Allah is in my soul and in my heart.”

Monafiq, blyn!

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