Economic Crisis And Corruption In Uzbekistan.
Economic crisis of Uzbekistan got worse in 2015. Prices of products that Uzbekistan exports such as cotton, natural gas and gold decreased. Sales of Uzbek cars in Russia had a sharp decline. Remittances from Russia and Kazakhstan had a sharp decline too.
1 dollar was worth 3000 Uzbek Som in black markets in 2014. By the end of 2015 it even devalued up to 6000 som, nowadays sitting at around 5500. There is no free exchange of currencies, millions of Uzbeks are migrant workers in Russia, Kazakhstan and other countries, constant devaluation of Uzbek som (1 dollar was worth 6 som in 1994, now 5500), all of which show that Uzbekistan is in economic crisis.
Scarcity of gas and electricity became even worse, case of not giving wages, pensions and child benefits on time is more common. This demonstrates the faultiness in Islam Karimov’s political-economical development model.
Unfortunately there are pretty much no economists that can offer something about alternative economic development models. I personally don’t know any economist from Uzbekistan that presented an alternative economic model. Uzbekistan has several institutes that produces economists, but unfortunately none of them are capable enough to come up with alternative ways to develop the economy.
Crisis of Islam Karimov’s regime also intensified. If economic crisis was the first sign then fallout of his family problems among each other was the second sign.
In 2015 investigations related to Gulnara Karimova continued in 10 EU countries and USA. It became known that Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva bought not one but 4 mansions in USA. New York Times published an article about this news.
Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation exposed the high ranking officials in Russia who were neck deep in corruption, meanwhile in Uzbekistan the fact that Gulnara Karimova and Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva stole billions was exposed by civil societies of EU and USA.
The Anti-Corruption Foundation In Uzbekistan was created in 2014 but it didn’t reach the same level of success where it could expose the high ranking officials.
Uzbek Opposition’s Crisis
Uzbekistan’s deep troubles with economic-social crisis, crisis of Islam Karimov’s regime creates a chance for Uzbek opposition.
Unfortunately Uzbek opposition is in crisis too. Abdurahim Polatov is the leader of “Birlik National Movement” and of the political party with the same name for 26 years in total and counting. And Muhammad Solih is leading the “Erk Democratic Party” for 25 years and counting. Since its transformation to a political party in 2014 “Birdamlik National Movement” has stopped its activities altogether.
National Movement of Uzbekistan was supposed to hold a conference in the summer of 2015, they didn’t. When this movement was created they had a rule which said the leader changes every year. One year later it was changed to every 3 years. In the end Muhammad Solih is still the only leader.
Islam Karimov, Abdurahim Polatov, Muhammad Solih and Bahodir Choriev keep changing the Constitution, party or movements’ rules however they please in order to stay a leader forever. Despite rallying for democratic society their actions say otherwise. Indeed, how would Uzbeks build a democratic society with undemocratic leaders. [7,8]
In my opinion there are 2 reasons for this crisis. The main reason being, Islam Karimov’s regime constantly persecutes and harasses the opposition and the second one is Abdurahim Polatov, Muhammad Solih and Bahodir Choriev are unwilling to give up their leadership position. These leaders are operating from Turkey and USA for 10-20 years.
On 19-20th December of 2015, Yabloko Party held their conference in Russia. In this conference it was agreed that a leader can only be elected for 4 years, maximum of 2 terms. Emilia Slabunova was elected as the leader of the party.
Originally established as a public organization in 1993 it transformed into a political party in 2001. The first chairman of the party was Grigory Yavlinsky (1993-2008), second was Sergey Mitrokhin (2008-2015).
Nowadays opposition parties don’t even have the capability to do pickets in Uzbekistan. They mostly operate from abroad.
Human Rights Defenders and Protests.
Uzbekistan is undergoing some changes due to external pressure. For example use of child labour diminished sharply in 2014-2015. This was achieved with the help of of Cotton Campaign, International Labour Organization and over 150 USA’s textile, retail companies who boycotted Uzbek cotton. The work to stop the use of forced labour is ongoing.
Even so World Bank has decided to give Uzbekistan half a billion dollars loan. Despite widespread use of forced labour, World Bank is turning a blind eye. 
Uzbekistan is being pressured in 3 ways:
- Forced Labour;
- Freedom of political prisoners;
Few human rights defenders are actively fighting in Uzbekistan. These are Yelena Urlaeva, Malohat Eshonqulova, Shuhrat Rustamov, Dmitry Tihonov, Surat Ikromov, Gulshan Qoraeva, Dildora Boymurodova.
Uzbekistan’s citizens fight for their rights was fairly significant in 2015.
On 26th of January, a woman from Navoi region, worker of district Mirzo Ulugbek’s peasant farmer society, close to the age of 50 protested the shortage of electricity and blocked the Hatirchi-Zarafshon road.
Nearly 50 employees of cotton cleaning open joint-stock company from Jizzakh region, Zarbdor district went on a strike on 27th of March because they had not been paid for 5 months.
Locals from several villages of district Uchkoprik, Ferghana region wrote a collective letter to Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan in Tashkent complaining about frequent disconnection of electricity and gas.
Leader of Alliance Elena Urlaeva organized a picket in front of Government house in Tashkent and if they didn’t meet the demands, warned that Tashkent-Kokand road would be blocked on the 27th of June.
Early evening on the 18th of December, around 200 locals from Margilan street of Qirguli, Ferghana city completely blocked the road for cars. They demanded gas to actually be delivered to their houses from officials. This protest lasted for 3 days Qirguli.
People of Sahovat neighborhood, Margilan city, Ferghana region protested because gas and electricity had been off for 4 days since 18th of December. Governor of Ferghana Region, Shuhrat Ganiev went to Margilan with prosecutors, gas department workers and other representatives. Despite all these efforts it was revealed on 22nd of December that their demands had not been met.
The good thing about these protests in 2015 is that the demands of people were met instead of suppressing them by force. Citizens of Uzbekistan began to protest with social and economic demands. However they haven’t the reached the level where they become members of human rights defender organizations, political parties, movements and fight for their social, political, economic rights.
Murod Joraev was released after 21 years, yet Oktam Pardaev was jailed with false charges. He’s awaiting his trial.
Uzbekistan refuses to invite 11 special United Nations’ representatives, even though UN has requested this several times. This means that as a member of UN Uzbekistan is refusing to meet its obligations.
For the most part US and EU are directing their attention at ISIS, fighting Taliban (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria), Ukraine, financial and economical crisis of Russia and some of EU countries.
The president of Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan
3rd of January, 2016
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8. Баҳодир Чориев демократми?! 04.05.2014. (http://uz.hrsu.org/archives/6770).
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