No Refuge from the Cold

by Nathan Hamm on 1/22/2008 · 2 comments

gasburner.jpgThe BBC reports that Uzbeks are suffering from severe shortages of heat and natural gas. Winter gas shortages have been par for the course in Uzbekistan in recent years, but with this winter being particularly cold, they’re having a much greater impact this year.

The state-controlled gas supply has not been meeting demand in many areas – including the second city, Samarkand.

Central heating in many apartment buildings – which is also controlled by the state – has been turned down.

Uzbek fire officials have been warning of the dangers of using electric hotplates for domestic heating, as they say it is a common cause of household fires.

Uzbeks aren’t the only ones suffering, and rather than meeting the needs of the citizenry, the government is using the cold of the winter to drive up prices on natural gas exports. (Turkmenistan’s doing the same.)

Some political analysts believe Uzbekistan, in its approach toward Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, is ripping a page from Russia’s playbook — trying to use the energy dependence of its negotiating partners for political purposes. Tashkent has long quarreled with Dushanbe, for example, over a variety of economic and political issues. Natural gas thus could prove the weapon with which the Karimov administration can compel Tajik officials to adhere to its wishes.

And heaven forbid that the revenues from gas exports be used to improve living standards in Uzbekistan. As domestic needs are ignored, EurasiaNet reports, some villages are being stripped of trees as residents try to stay warm. Before we know it, someone with a bit of power will get wise to this and manage to gain control of all the trees and squeeze every last so’m possible out of them.

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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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Oleg January 23, 2008 at 1:10 pm

And all that happens while Karimov is in a hurry to sell natural gas to Russia for a good price.

lone scout January 25, 2008 at 3:31 am

i see it read in uzbek news that a admiral fallon of the central command had a meeting and phioto op with der fuher islum and to discuss
important matters of state like maybe more pt boats fer the great uzbek navy,lol
how bout der admiral dig up some heating oil or gas for the uzbek and other peoples who are freezing ther asses off.

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