Justin Marozzi reviews Murder in Samarkand in The Spectator
Craig Murray, formerly Our Man in Tashkent, was not your average ambassador. He put the wind up the Uzbeks with his uncompromising position on President Islam Karimov’s unspeakably grisly human rights record. This is the country that infamously boiled a dissident to death and then sentenced his mother to six years of hard labour when she had the temerity to complain about it. It is thanks to Murray’s efforts that the case was publicly aired in the first place and that the unfortunate mother’s sentence was subsequently commuted to a fine.
Upsetting Uzbekistan is one thing. The problem was that all this business was going on from 2002-4, when Washington, historically a little careless about choosing its friends around the world, was cosying up to one of its nastiest regimes. Karimov was a new-found ally in President Bush’s war on terror, providing an important airbase from which the Taleban regime in Afghanistan was defeated. Washington wasn’t happy about Britain’s man in Uzbekistan ruffling feathers. So he had to go. Britain, having mislaid its independent foreign policy, shamefully did America’s bidding.
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