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Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Moscow, Russia, April 5, 2017 (AP photo by Pavel Golovkin).

Behind the ‘Uzbek Spring’ Is an Opportunity for Elites to Enrich Themselves

Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018

Last week, Abdulla Aripov, the prime minister of Uzbekistan, and Emomali Rahmon, the president of Tajikistan, agreed to allow their citizens to visit each other’s countries without a visa for up to 30 days, removing restrictions put in place between the adversarial regimes back in 2001. The move is the latest sign that Uzbekistan, one of the world’s most closed countries, is slowly opening up.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has spearheaded this opening since he replaced Islam Karimov, who ruled the country for 27 years before he died in September 2016. Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York last September, Mirziyoyev said his ultimate goal is to create a democracy in his country. But the policies adopted so far seem to be more about restructuring economic relations to benefit the elite than genuinely attempting to transfer power to the wider Uzbek population. ...

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