28 Aug stroke were hospitalized 78-year-old President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov. The daughter of the President of Uzbekistan, Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva said in Facebook that her father is hospitalized with a brain hemorrhage. The government of Uzbekistan does not report about the health of Karimov, so rumors began to circulate about his death, 29 Aug authoritative news Agency Fergana confirmed information about the death of the leader of the country.
As usually happens in case of death of dictators who kept the country with an iron fist for decades, the people froze in anticipation of the official outcome of the two fights – the battle of the incumbent President for life and the fight for power, which his death might provoke. By itself the death of the Central Asian despot – the event is rare, the last time a similar excitement was caused by the death of President Saparmurat Niyazov in 2006.
The Legacy Of Karimov
The former Minister of Finance of the Soviet of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov headed the Communist party of the Republic in June 1989, after the local authorities have shown to be ineffective in combating the pogroms of Meskhetian Turks in the Fergana valley. Nationalist sentiment in this period was booming, but it all started with a domestic conflict of Uzbeks and Turks in the market, and ended with the deaths of more than a hundred people and the evacuation of the 16 thousand Meskhetian Turks in Russia.
Karimov was called to restore order in the Republic, including to prevent the growth of aggression against the Russian-speaking population. In 1990 Karimov became President of the Republic, and in 1991 was one of the first leaders in Central Asia, insisted on the Declaration of independence after the coup. KGB of Uzbekistan, renamed the national security Service, headed by Colonel-General Rustam Inoyatov , became a reliable support for Karimov in suppressing opposition and dissent in the country, in the formation of a dictatorship.
In may 2005 in Andijan city in the Fergana valley riots broke out, protests against the arrest of local businessmen on charges of extremism.
According to the version of protesters, business people simply took their business for refusal to pay bribes. Supporters of the detainees attacked the prison where detainees were kept businessmen, freed them and several prisoners seized weapons in a military unit and destroyed local administration. The government used weapons against the rebels. According to official data, 9 people died, according to world media, the number of victims has reached several hundred. Thousands of relatives of those killed had fled to Kyrgyzstan. From 2005 to 2009 against Uzbekistan acted Western sanctions. The Ferghana valley became one of the explosive regions where more than just waiting for the destabilization of the situation and the emergence of jihadists.
Refugees from Andijan in Kyrgyzstan, 2005, photo – EPA
On the verge of social explosion
Although most of the reign of Karimov, Uzbekistan’s economy grew, foreign exchange earnings were primarily from increased sale of oil and gas, uranium, gold, mineral fertilizers. Economic growth does not affect the level of wages – the average salary in Uzbekistan is $243. At the same time for the reign of Karimov, Uzbekistan’s population has grown by a third, from 20 million to 32 million people. Society has become more monoethnic in 1989 Uzbeks made up 71% of the population, in 2013 already 83%, the number of Russian decreased by half to 800 thousand in 2013.
Due to the demographic explosion and growing social stratification even high growth rates in recent years does not help to solve the problems of poverty and employment among young people. Therefore, many Uzbeks go to work in Russia – according to the FMS of the Russian Federation on 1 January 2016, the country has officially 1.9 million Uzbeks. After the devaluation of the ruble incomes of Uzbek migrant workers have fallen – if in 2014, remittances amounted to $ 5.6 billion, in 2015 – $3.59 billion in addition to a 15% reduction in the number of migrants. All of this in the future could provoke a social explosion in Uzbekistan.
Who will replace the dictator
Although the all-powerful man in Uzbekistan is a 72-year-old head of the national security Service Rustam Inoyatov, the majority of experts in the former Soviet Union believe the President first of all expect a professional bureaucrat, Shavkat Mirziyoev, who is the chair of the Prime Minister since 2003, and Deputy Prime Minister, head ekonomicheskogo block of the government, Rustam Azimov. Latest career began in 1991 when Karimov appointed him head of the National Bank of foreign economic activity. A graduate of Oxford, Asimov essentially oversees the relations with the West.
Shavkat Mirziyoev, photo – EPA
The scenario of succession in Uzbekistan is excluded eldest daughter Gulnara Karimova in conflict with his father, so with 2013, imprisoned under house arrest and deprived of any ties with the outside world. Helped to isolate from the world and accused it of collecting tributes from broadcasters, Rustam Inoyatov. Karimov’s youngest daughter Lola has a large influence.
With all these classifications, according to the Constitution of Uzbekistan, acting head of the state in the event of the death of the President becomes the head of the upper house of Parliament Nigmatilla Yuldashev, former Minister of justice, whose ambitions seriously consider. Presidential elections are held within 3 months.
Rustam Azimov, photo – EPA
In Uzbekistan is evident not only the division between the titular nation and minorities, but also the clan division among the Uzbeks. Karimov to some extent leveled the fighting clans, the strongest of which are Samarkand and Tashkent. Karimov himself was represented by the Samarkand clan, but have included a number of representatives of the Tashkent clan in the leadership of the state, including Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov and the head of the security services, Rustam Inoyatova. At the same time, the Prime Minister Mirziyoev is the Samarkand clan. Clans is not monolithic, it is difficult to predict how time will be divided between their representatives of power .
Whether to take power by the opposition?
No. Islam Karimov physically destroyed the opposition in the beginning of the reign. First under the millstones of repressions hit the Democratic party Erk, headed by the poet Muhammad Solih, who was the main opponent of Karimov in the presidential elections of 1991 and received 12.5% of votes. The opposition announced rigging the voting results. After the election, was shot student demonstration in Tashkent vuzgorodke caused by rising prices, the opposition leaders opened a criminal case. Saleh after months of being in prison, left the country in 1993. Since then, a legal political opposition in Uzbekistan is not a major force.
In the presidential election of 2000, 2007 and 2015 was attended by candidates from parties advocating an appendage of the ruling party. They always avoided criticism of the President and gained 2-4% of the vote. Karimov has never received less than 90% of the vote.
Local ISIS. The Islamic movement of Uzbekistan
In the absence of legal opposition, and under the influence of the Uzbeks-members of the civil war between local clans and Islamist groups in Tajikistan, in Uzbekistan in 1990-ies began to spread radical Islamist ideas.
Established in 1996, the Islamist group – the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan during 1999-2001 was feared throughout Central Asia, according to the authorities, organized in 1999, the terrorist attacks in Tashkent and performing military raids on Kyrgyzstan. The group and several of its leaders were killed during the war in Afghanistan since 2001, and in 2015, announced the joining of the Islamic state. Although the Uzbek jihadists have not yet manifest themselves in Uzbekistan in the amount of up to several thousand they are fighting in Syria. There are dozens of videos of ISIS fighters, Uzbeks, and if Uzbekistan is going to happen to destabilize the situation, they may apply combat experience in the homeland.
Namely, the jihadist threat has brought together the United States and Uzbekistan. Relations between the two countries have improved under President Obama, which lifted the sanctions imposed after the events in Andijan. In 2012, Uzbekistan suspended its membership in the Pro-Russian military bloc CSTO . On the territory of Uzbekistan NATO cargo are delivered to Afghanistan,Tashkent views the US as a mediator in difficult relations with its neighbors. About the importance of relations with the United States suggests that Karimov personally met U.S. Secretary of state John Kerry at the airport during his visit to Samarkand in 2015.
The consequences of the death of Karimov for the Ukrainian-Uzbek relations
The Golden period of relations between Ukraine and Uzbekistan was in the years of Leonid Kuchma’s presidency, who was friends with Karimov. Kuchma made several visits to Uzbekistan, Karimov reciprocated. In 1999-2005, Uzbekistan participated in the regional Association GUUAM, created with the support of Washington as opposed to the Russian Imperial revanchism in the post-Soviet space. After the orange revolution and especially the war in Donbass, the amount of and political contacts and economic ties decreases.
Islam Karimov and Leonid Kuchma at a meeting in Kiev in 1999, photo – EPA
According to Goskomstat of Ukraine in the first half of 2016, Ukraine exported to Uzbekistan goods for $65,7 million, imported to 32.3 million, and exports fell by almost 30% compared to the same period of 2015. On the former extent of relations between Ukraine and Uzbekistan is now only shown by the enormous Embassy of Uzbekistan in the center of Kiev. At the same time, in the case of any aggravation of the situation in Uzbekistan, it is necessary to consider that living in this country, according to the Embassy of Ukraine in Uzbekistan 100 thousand Ukrainians and 40 thousand Crimean Tatars.
About the future of Uzbekistan without Karimov and will the death of the President in Uzbekistan’s relations with neighbors and key regional players, ЛІГА.net said the Deputy head of the Center for middle Eastern studies, former editor of the journal Central Asia and the Caucasus Sergey Danilov.
– In your opinion who will replace Karimov as President?
Rustam Inoyatov (photo – gazeta.uz)
– Have little information on this. It is obvious that has the best chance of the Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoev. Now the authorities want to show that everything remains the same, and one of the cornerstones is the authority, and inheritance: here was President Karimov and Prime Minister Mirziyoev worked with him. Turkmen variant (in 2006 after the death of Saparmurat Niyazov, the President was a little-known Minister of health, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, ed.), when suddenly after death is not clear how a new President is unlikely to be repeated. Would rather see the person who was at the hearing, held one of the highest posts. As for the head of national security Service Rustam Inoyatova – he is already older, always performed the functions of the person in the shadows, was not public. He will try to influence the new leader, and he’s got dirt on the whole political elite is sufficient, because it all jobs Karimov has performed and solved his problem with the clans, and in the family. But it is unlikely Inoyatov will be the new leader and come out of the shadows.
– Can the death of Karimov to provoke a destabilization of the political situation in the country?
– In Uzbekistan, no opposition is either in jail or in the grave or abroad. On the other hand is a parallel world of Islam, some shaykhs have enough influence and exist as a parallel power. However, if members of the state leadership, the clans do not enter into open confrontation for power, they are unlikely to take advantage of the situation. If the transfer of power will be presented as a consolidated position of the elite, the security forces will ensure security in the country. Although there is always the uncertainty – someone will be unhappy, someone moved away from streams. It always starts the game after the dictator’s death.
– What is the threat of renewed fighting involving the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan?
– This group is in serious condition, was the information that they cooperate with the Islamic state and fighting in Syria. In the form in which GO existed in the early 2000s, this group is no more. But there is a brand in which quickly you can get water, raise the flag of the movement and re-prove themselves in conditions of instability.
– Can Russia to intervene in the case of destabilization of the situation in Uzbekistan?
Islam Karimov has never walked on a full rapprochement with Russia as some neighbors of Uzbekistan. His policy of maneuvering was defeated after the Andijan relations with the US and the EU deteriorated. However, even being isolated in the West, he maintained his distance from Moscow. For Russia, as always in the case of the death of the dictator it is important to provide assistance to the winner to determine who to put to at the start to gain an advantage. Saturday Russia is engaged and, in particular, and through the oligarchs of Uzbek origin, including Alisher Usmanov.
In Uzbekistan there are several hazardous areas of the Ferghana valley and the North-West. In the case of destabilization of the situation, with a high probability Russia will be involved in a military confrontation in Uzbekistan. My colleagues and I analyzed the Russian edition and noticed preparing public opinion for such developments and arguments, though not quite logical about the possibility of participation of the Russian military in stability operations, if Uzbekistan will start internal fighting.
Overall, with Russia changes relations should not be expected, if not destabilizing the political situation in Uzbekistan. The presence of Diaspora labour migrants in Russia will affect the position of Uzbekistan, as well as the presence of a division of the Russian army in Tajikistan. The power factor is, no one will risk.
– How can change relationships with neighbors in the region with China after the death of Karimov?
– With neighbours in the region, relations are now strained. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are interested in the maximum use of water resources of the region for hydropower and Uzbekistan for agriculture. Karimov had a difficult relationship with the leaders of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. As evidenced by the example of Turkmenistan after Niyazov’s death, the new President Berdimuhamedov was able to change the former hostile relations with Azerbaijan in a more user-friendly without the plume of old grudges. Perhaps regional cooperation after the death of Karimov is going to win. In addition, there is a sense in the search for consensus on Afghanistan, which is a common security threat for countries in the region.
As for China, the main economic projects are carried out by the Chinese through government agencies, or business in infrastructure development, transport, agriculture. And this cooperation will continue. The region is for China more important source of energy supplies and transport line, which is the idea that the Chinese leadership will connect China with Europe.
Also, the new President may eventually go on to release someone from the political prisoners and to improve relations with the West. Besides, it will not hang the burden of crime in Andijan.
– What impact the change of power in Uzbekistan would have on Ukraine?
“Our relations with the former Soviet Union gradually weakened. The leaders, who spoke the same language, have the same political culture, gathered together in Moscow to leave. Uzbekistan, fortunately or unfortunately, is not an important trading partner of Ukraine.
Important for Ukraine is the stability of the region. At the same time, military activity and drawing Russia into another regional conflict at least will require resources and will complicate the position of the aggressor. At the same time it will affect the situation with the Crimean Tatar community. We can expect waves of migration from the region, which will focus primarily on the countries of the region and Russia. But they can also touch on the Ukraine – Crimean Tatars from Uzbekistan have the right to return to Ukraine