Sharnoff’s Global Views recently published an interview with Sanjar Umarov, the former political prison, presidential candidate, and founder of the Sunshine Coalition. I have long found Sanjar to be one of the most knowledgeable and realistic voices in Uzbekistan’s opposition, and it is always worth reading his analysis of Uzbekistan’s political situation and future prospects. In this interview, he describes very well how circumstance — almost an accident — is responsible Uzbekistan failing to take advantage of the many advantages it had at independence.
If only for one (the most important!) thing – circumstance. As the Soviet system was waning, the first secretary of the Communist Party came to power, then as president – Islam Karimov. Karimov, a man with a “Napoleon complex,” sees himself as the direct descendent of the great warrior of the Middle Ages, Amir Temur (Tamerlane). One could understand this if not for his narcissism and his usurping of power, his sickening disgust for any independent thought. He has deprived Uzbeks of all basic rights and has forced the majority to live on the edge of poverty and extinction, and that same thoughtful intelligentsia has mostly all emigrated abroad, or is hidden behind bars, or have become a disciplined herd of scared law-abiders. But the “great leader-ism” of Karimov is also dangerous in that over the years of his reign, the small group of his closest relatives and cohorts have hoarded all the country’s national treasures. They have become immeasurably wealthy while millions of the work-inclined population has to search for work, under slavish conditions, outside of their homeland.
Be sure to read the entire interview.