Uzbekistan. According to Countryaah.com, Uzbekistan Independence Day is September 1. The World Bank declared in a report during the year that living standards and economic growth in Uzbekistan were poorer than in almost all other countries of the former Soviet Union. The bank urged Uzbekistan to remove trade barriers, phase out central planning and create a business-friendly economic climate. During the year, Uzbekistan implemented some liberalizations, including a number of currency restrictions are lifted.
One of Uzbekistan’s toughest regime critics, British Ambassador Craig Murray, left the country at times during the year, officially for health reasons. Murray had shocked the political establishment when, in late 2002, in a public speech, he declared that Uzbekistan was not a functioning democracy and that there were thousands of political prisoners in the country.
It may have been a sign of political thunderstorms when a dozen members of the banned opposition party Erk in June could gather in the capital Tashkent. It was the first time in ten years that the party could hold an open meeting. In addition, representatives of another banned party, Birlik, were invited. Atonazar Arifov of Erk said at the meeting that the government became the enemy of the people and turned the citizens into slaves. Observers were surprised that the authorities did not intervene and dissolved the meeting.
For the United States, Uzbekistan is an important ally as it allows the superpower to send supplies through Uzbekistan into Afghanistan. For the same reason, the United States does not criticize the dictatorship. The EU is also silent. Scheduled visits by President Karimov to several EU countries – including Letiland and the Czech Republic – in February 2014, however, was canceled after fierce protests from human rights organizations.
In August 2016, Karimov suffered a severe brain haemorrhage and died a few days later. The death triggered confusion around the succession. Senate spokeswoman Nigmatilla Yuldashev managed to hold the post for 6 days before being handed over to Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev. At the December presidential election, he got 88.6% of the vote. The OSCE found that the opposition had few opportunities to speak out against the dominant populist Liberal government. At the same time as Mirziyoyev’s appointment as president, the prime minister’s post was handed over to Abdulla Aripov.
The country’s new president continued Karimov’s authoritarian methods. Uzbek people in exile are being monitored and have been abducted in several cases, then appearing in prisons in Uzbekistan. Thus, the country has learned from Israel and the United States using similar methods. Independent journalists and human rights activists are persecuted, prosecuted and tortured.