A Moment of Hope 107


The apparent end to the power of my old adversary Islam Karimov gives a brief moment of hope for change in Uzbekistan.

It is worth recalling that Karimov was a member of the last Soviet politburo, and was a part of the failed hard line “communist” coup against Gorbachev. His support for Uzbek independence was both a matter of self-preservation and a successful endeavour to sustain the massively corrupt system that enabled a few families to pillage Uzbekistan’s great natural wealth. Tashkent was already famously corrupt in Soviet times; Karimov increased this and concentrated the wealth in an ever smaller circle, while personal freedoms were higher in the Soviet period than now.

There is no telling if Karimov is already dead or not, but a massive stroke has with certainty ended his rule. There is much speculation on what happens next. The one thing we can be quite certain will not happen is a free and fair election of a successor.

The formal process, presided over by the speaker of parliament, is an irrelevance to the power grab that is going on and depends on control of the army, the separate Ministry of the Interior armed forces, the police and the security services. By common consent Rustam Inoyatov is a key kingmaker, and for the last two years Prime Minister Mirzaeyev has been carefully cementing this alliance. Mirzaeyev is probably the most ruthless of all the candidates – he is as cold-blooded a killer as Karimov, and I suspect this quality will bring him through.

Mirzaeyev comes from the same Samarkand power base as Karimov, but he faces a difficult balancing act in ensuring nobody else has any power to challenge him, while at the same time placating powerful Tashkent and Ferghana interests. If Mirzaeyev can gain the support of the Gafur Rakhimov/Alisher Usmanov mafia nexus he will probably be home and dry. But to emphasise how complex and vicious this will be, when the Alisher Usmanov/Mirzaeyev family relationship was due to be cemented in 2013 by a marriage alliance featuring Usmanov’s nephew and heir Babur Usmanov, the groom was killed in a “car crash” at the behest of Inoyatov. This murder was probably just a friendly reminder that Inoyatov cannot be cut out, and one Mirzaeyev seems to have heeded, but underlines the potential for it all to go violently wrong.

So how can this be hopeful? Well, quite simply things can only get better. Whoever takes over is unlikely to want immediately to rush into the arms of one of Uzbekistan’s three suitors, the USA, China and Russia. There is a reasonable chance that they will wish to portray themselves as having a reform agenda, in order to keep the USA and to some extent Russia interested. Putin never viewed Karimov as more than an embarrassment. Indeed, almost every potential President except Mirzaeyev does have an inkling that the deliberate stifling of all economic initiative and the enslavement of the country to a cotton monoculture is not a good policy.

Finally a message to Karimov, my old sparring partner. You won, you kept power and I lost, and got sacked for my pains. But then I am not dead, and when I am I shall not go to Hell. Good luck with that. Craig


107 thoughts on “A Moment of Hope

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  • Uzbek in the UK

    Well, blood sucking parasite is dead! I am not the one who usually celebrates ones death but this would be my rare (and so far the only) exception.

    Over 26 years of rule which resulted in thousands of deaths and executions. Millions were plundered into poverty and millions became slave labours within uzbekistan or abroad. Thanks to dead blood sucking parasite uzbeks today associated with slaves or dirt in neighbouring Kazakhstan and in Russia. He turned nation into slaves to serve his needs.

    Thanks to dead blood sucking parasite Uzbekistan is the only country in the world where security forces (MVD and SNB) have more personnel then military. This indicates that dead blood sucking parasite always viewed own nation as major threat.

    Like Henry VIII he turned into absolute monarch where only his orders where the law by default. All other institutes of government were turned into fictional where so called elite where busy by robbing people of what was left from main robber himself. Like Henry VIII he surrounded himself with weak and depended on him people. These people proved to be afraid of him even after his death.

    Decades from today historians will assess his rule and what will they find positive? Not sure.

    • Ba'al Zevul

      Someone’s admitted it – but that article doesn’t say who, or whose diplomatic sources. He probably snuffed it days ago (see above). All we’re waiting for is the new boss to tell us himself…not long now.

      • Alan

        More here:

        http://www.reuters.com/article/us-uzbekistan-president-idUSKCN1180WG

        Craig is gonna love this part

        “A hint at who is going to succeed Karimov may come with the government’s announcement of his death – which one source said was expected later on Friday – and whoever it names to head the commission in charge of organizing the funeral.

        The latter appeared likely to take part in Karimov’s hometown of Samarkand where his mother and two brothers are buried. Municipal authorities there mobilized public workers to clean the central streets late on Thursday.”

  • michael norton

    Uzbekistan “ailing” president Islam Karimov is in a critical condition, the central Asian country’s government has said.

    The announcement follows days of speculation that Karimov was critically ill or even dead after it was disclosed he’d been hospitalised.

    Earlier this week the 78-year-old leader’s daughter said he’d suffered a stroke.

    Questions remain over the now almost certain power transition. Karimov has led Uzbekistan since 1989, cultivating no apparent successor.
    http://www.euronews.com/2016/09/02/uzbek-president-islam-karimov-in-critical-condition-government-admits
    officially hanging on.

  • Alcyone

    +1 to Ferghana and Ba’al

    So they wanted to let the National Day pass and buy time as the vipers continue to vie for power.

  • Alcyone

    “Uzbekistan dictator’s glamour model princess daughter goes missing after he suffers massive stroke
    17:10, 30 AUG 2016 UPDATED 17:11, 30 AUG 2016
    BY WILL STEWART
    Gulnara Karimova was once considered a likely successor to President Islam Karimov but he cast her out after being shown “semi-naked pictures” of the 44-year-old”

    With Craig quoted herein, how did we miss this? Or did someone link it earlier?
    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/uzbekistan-dictators-glamour-model-princess-8733862

    • michael norton

      To be the leader of a country, it should not matter if you are glamorous ( the recently retired Cristina of The Argentine)
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/argentina/9987638/Uruguays-president-apologises-for-calling-Cristina-Kirchner-an-old-hag.html
      or even more hag-like Frau Merkel

      in fact it should not matter if you are a man or a woman, a poof or a lesbian (Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir)
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%B3hanna_Sigur%C3%B0ard%C3%B3ttir#Personal_life

      it should matter that you try to do the best for your people, it should matter that you do not lightly go to war

      Tony Blair

      and it should matter that you tell the TRUTH.

      Tony Blair

      and it should matter that you do not make yourself unduly rich.

      Tony Blair

      • michael norton

        Had millions of British people not accepted this argument, Tony Blair might not be prime minister today. There were many, especially in the Labour party, who disagreed with his decision but who did not doubt the sincerity of his belief in the primacy of human rights.

        There is just one test of this sincerity, and that is the consistency with which his concern for human rights guides his foreign policy. If he cares so much about the welfare of foreigners that he is prepared to go to war on their behalf, we should expect to see this concern reflected in all his relations with the governments of other countries. We should expect him, for example, to do all he can to help the people of Uzbekistan.

        There are over 6,000 political and religious prisoners in Uzbekistan. Every year, some of them are tortured to death. Sometimes the policemen or intelligence agents simply break their fingers, their ribs and then their skulls with hammers, or stab them with screwdrivers, or rip off bits of skin and flesh with pliers, or drive needles under their fingernails, or leave them standing for a fortnight, up to their knees in freezing water. Sometimes they are a little more inventive. The body of one prisoner was delivered to his relatives last year, with a curious red tidemark around the middle of his torso. He had been boiled to death.

        His crime, like that of many of the country’s prisoners, was practising his religion. Islam Karimov, the president of Uzbekistan, learned his politics in the Soviet Union.
        http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2003/oct/28/foreignpolicy.usa

        • Paul Barbara

          Sure – and the torurous bastards of the Miliary Juntas of Latin America learnt thier techniques in the US Scool of the Americas; and Pol Pots ‘troops’ were trained by the British SAS….

    • Ba'al Zevul

      She hasn’t been seen for a while, Alcyone – as the article says, she was last reported put under house arrest by Dad, and largely incommunicado. Though I’m thinking she’ll be even less visible now. So it goes. Reportedly the most-hated person in the country, there won’t be many Uzbek mourners.

  • Charles Crawford

    Ah. Your bitter fight as HMA Tashkent with the cruel Karimov family! Not least his daughter Gulnara:

    “I led her out into the garden and, as she didn’t want to sit, we stood talking on the little wooden bridge over the stream. Then 31 years old, she was charmingly girlish, giggling delightedly at my light conversation…

    “Do you think I could get a job as your interpreter?” She giggled.”Sounds like it might be fun.”

    … It is of course a truth universally acknowledged that no woman can resist flirting with the man in a kilt. Nevertheless, how many presidential children would react so prettily to being pestered by a drunk? Her reaction did not fit with the stories I had heard about her. There didn’t seem to be obvious darkness behind her laughing eyes. Was she really behind the corrupt acquisition of all those businesses, the closing down of rival companies, the massive bribes from huge energy deals?”

    If only every Western diplomat could take such a principled steely stand against dictatorship, as you describe so well in your book Murder in Samarkand.

    • glenn

      Nice of you to let us know what an apologist (if not positive enthusiast) for torture has to say on the matter.

  • Brianfujisan

    Finally a message to Karimov, my old sparring partner. You won, you kept power and I lost

    You Won much Craig Over the elite.

  • Mr. Fishy

    Your ex-excellence,
    I feel like sharing my true experiences from living in Uzbekistan opposing your demonizing him as a brutal murderer.
    In the late 80-s there was a lot of violence in the streets of Tashkent targeted especially at ethnic Russians living there. What was happening after the dark was a kind of terrorism: Russians were killed, raped, and beaten*.
    When Karimov came to power in 1989, all this terrorism stopped immediately! Later, laws were put in effect that prohibited any nationalistic slurs in public.
    This hard FACT hasn’t been much publicized, but it played a tremendous role in consolidating the Uzbekistan society.

    *I understand that this might please you as a Brit. Brits do not believe that Russians are part to the Uzbekistan society, do they? I was told by a Brit that “Russians should have gone from Uzbekistan”— so my apologies for staying.

  • michael norton

    “Free from EU DOMINATED by Germany” Le Pen promises FREXIT and vows to crush radical Islam
    The head of France’s Front National party has promised supporters she would hold a referendum in order to get FRANCE out of the European Union.
    Daily Express
    I hope the FRENCH do get to vote and leave the hated E.U.
    I think it is the only route that will save France from imploding.
    All countries of the hated E.U. will ultimately be better off outside of the E.U.
    even Germany.

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