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What do the struggles of the Belarusian and Uzbek peoples with the dictatorships have in common?

25.06.2022 admin

Russia is trying to spread its influence not only over the post-Soviet countries that are located in the European part of the continent. The Kremlin is also active in Central Asia. For example, in Uzbekistan.

Opposition politician, head of the Erkin O’zbekiston (Free Uzbekistan) movement Hasanboy Burhanov believes that the struggles of the Belarusian and Uzbek peoples have much in common — both peoples are opposing the dictators who are in fact the Kremlin’s proteges.

Hasanboy Burhanov spoke to about how Russia helped establish a dictatorship in Uzbekistan, why the region is so important to Putin, and what the Uzbek opposition is fighting for.

“What is Uzbekistan like after the death of dictator Islam Karimov?”

“The current regime cannot be considered without the previous government, because they have common roots. The current system is a consequence of the actions that have taken place over the past 30 years.

If you remember, on February 16, 1999, there were explosions in Tashkent. Unfortunately, many have forgotten about this. Explosions occurred in different parts of the city with an interval of 30-40 minutes. On this day, a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers was scheduled, and Islam Karimov was supposed to speak at it. He was a man of the communist era, hardened, he was never late for such events, he was very punctual.

Naturally, he had a very cool security service and a few days before these events they checked all the objects. When the cortege started moving, there was one explosion not far from the Cabinet of Ministers. The cortege continues to move, and almost 200 meters from the place of the meeting, a second explosion thundered. The cortege moved further on — right in front of the Cabinet of Ministers, a third explosion thundered.

Then Karimov got out of the car, looked around and began to give interviews to the journalists who were already there. He said that there were explosions in 4-5 places in Tashkent on that day, although there were only three explosions. Karimov said that he knows who did it, he asked the people not to worry, not to be nervous. And at this moment (the video is still preserved) the fourth explosion occurred. He just looked, and continued to give interviews.

Why am I saying all this? The authorities had already been prepared, they knew that these explosions would happen. They did all that only to destroy their political opponents, and take power completely under their control.

If you remember, during this period the head of the Russian FSB was Vladimir Putin, who enjoyed his rapid career growth then.

In the same year, there were explosions of houses in Vladikavkaz, and in the autumn they began all over Russia: in Buynaksk, then in Moscow. And the series of these explosions ended only on September 22, 1999, when the FSB operatives, let’s say, were exposed by the concerned residents of the house in Ryazan, who already knew everything about the house explosions. On September 24, if I’m not mistaken, Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo announced the exposure of a group of terrorists involved in the explosions.

On that very day, Nikolai Patrushev, already director of the FSB, denied this information. At the end of September 1999, the bombing of Chechnya began, and thus Putin came to power.

He used the same method, the same principles that Islam Karimov used. Perhaps it was a chain of agreements. Perhaps the secret services of these countries were behind them, they organized it all together. However, the goal was achieved.

So, after these explosions, a series of repressions and total control began in Uzbekistan.

Karimov passed away in 2016. We think that he was already a disabled and very sick person, and the team of Shavkat Mirziyoyev slightly accelerated his passing.

It turns out that with the support of the Kremlin, an unconstitutional seizure of power took place in Uzbekistan, and the country completely came under the control of Russia. The mafia, criminal elements came to power.”

“What is the human rights situation in Uzbekistan?”

“The previous ruler of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, and his entourage made every effort to turn the country into a space of silence and lawlessness. Former and present heads of special services, as well as high-ranking officials, established state terror against the Uzbek people, turning them into a meek population. Taking the people of Uzbekistan hostage, they terrorized the entire nation for decades, destroying the most literate, creative and progressive people of the country with 30 million population.

The physical elimination of the regime opponents took place not only within the country, but even far beyond its borders. The Karimov regime inflicted colossal damage on the intellectual potential of the country. In such a situation, there could be no question of any independent media or opposition forces inside the country.

From the first days of his reign, Shavkat Mirziyoyev began to build a system of state administration according to the Russian principle. Today Uzbekistan can be confidently considered a typical kleptocratic state.

“What is the economic situation in Uzbekistan? How do ordinary people live?”

“Mirziyoyev and his entourage initiated, as Putin did in Russia in his time, a mega-scale stealing of the national wealth of Uzbekistan. And if they are 100% able to achieve the task, then the process of stratification of the people into very rich and poor people will be significantly accelerated.

Today, the real unemployment rate in Uzbekistan reaches 30%, and the average monthly salary in the country is 130-150 US dollars.”

“Uzbekistan is mentioned in the list of countries through which Russia and Belarus are trying to circumvent Western sanctions. Is it true?”

“That’s what we talk about a lot everywhere. The fact is, if you remember, after the annexation of the Crimea, sanctions were applied against Russia and then Belarus, which is a member of the customs union, began to take advantage of this situation and those products that were forbidden to be imported into Russia (this is meat and dairy products, vegetables, fruits) were imported through Belarus.

After February 24, when Putin attacked Ukraine, they started imposing very strong sanctions on Russia, for which, naturally, the Kremlin had prepared in advance.

They had ready countries that were used to circumvent sanctions. One of these options, of course, were Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

A lot of investments were made in Uzbekistan through the Russian Gazprombank, through the ERIELL group and the Orient group. It was through these groups that they created their joint ventures, the prerequisites so that later, when any sanctions are applied to them, they could, through these companies, through third parties, purchase and have access to international loans, technologies, and food. And today it works very well.”

“And what could prevent this circumvention of sanctions through your country?”

“Firstly, it is making all the information public. This should involve as many people as possible. First of all, Ukrainian politicians, bloggers and the country’s leadership. Everything that is done through Uzbekistan causes enormous damage to Ukraine. Every ruble that goes back into Russia’s pocket is used for the war, for the murder of Ukrainian citizens, and we are very worried about this.

By the way, at all international events and international platforms, the government of Uzbekistan has always defended the interests of Russia, despite the fact that in 2020 Uzbekistan was elected to the UN Human Rights Council for the first time in history.

It is necessary to speak and it is necessary to increase the audience that will voice the problems. Naturally, they should talk about it a lot in Ukraine.”

“Do the residents of Uzbekistan have a different position on the war in Ukraine from the official one?”

“Yes, these positions are different. The fact is that after the aggression began, the war against Ukraine, a very large staff of Russian IT specialists were relocated to Uzbekistan. Our country has practically become a springboard for conducting an information war against the world community. On the one hand, they mute the voice of freedom that exists in our society today. On the other hand, they are waging an information war against other democratically minded people. A tough war is going on both against Ukraine and Belarus.”

“How does your movement represent Uzbekistan without a dictatorship?”

“Such as, for example, Georgia, Moldova or Ukraine. The people want to live freely and want changes, so society is ready for them.

There is social tension. But unlike, say, Georgia or Ukraine, Moldova, I doubt that it is possible for us to democratically come to power. Because the Kremlin will be present there, it will be very tough to fight all manifestations of dissent. The loss of Uzbekistan will lead to the territorial split of Russia. One more factor must be taken into account: the 201st Russian army with a 10,000-strong contingent is present in Dushanbe, and it’s very powerful. Therefore, I think there will be no painless change of the political system in Uzbekistan. But there are prerequisites, the people want change.”

“Would Russia’s defeat in the war with Ukraine have accelerated this process?”

“Unlike the official authorities of Uzbekistan, the Erkin O’zbekiston political opposition movement has strongly condemned, and will continue to condemn the illegal annexation of the Crimea, as well as Russia’s perfidious attack on sovereign Ukraine. The territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders is beyond question. Russia is an aggressor country, and Putin is a war criminal. Politicians should not have an ambiguous position on this issue.

Without knowing the situation from the inside, it is difficult to talk about the end of the war in Ukraine, but I assume that it will not be soon. Based on open data, I believe that the Russian occupation troops will be defeated and annihilated in Ukraine.

For the future of the post-Soviet space to be prosperous, the democratic forces of these countries need to work very hard on this today.”