Uzbekistan, having huge natural and human resources, is one of the poorest countries of the former Soviet Union. President Islam Karimov, who promised “paradise on earth” to his people, during his fifteen years of rule led the country to economic and political collapse.
Corruption, repressive policies, lack of reforms and free elections ultimately did their job. Despite good starting positions at the dawn of Gorbachev's perestroika, Uzbekistan turned into a impoverished country with a desperate people.
Having declared one of the five basic principles of development of the country the priority of the economy over politics, the government of Uzbekistan, however, to the detriment of its own economy, practically expels Western business from the country. After cooling relations with Europe and America, Russian businessmen received a green corridor to the Uzbek economy. President Islam Karimov offered Russian investors attractive prospects for participation in local business. It is even about acquiring ownership of strategic objects. “In Uzbekistan today - and especially in 2005 - excellent opportunities have been created, very weighty legislation has been adopted for the development of private property. Russian companies can take an active part. Not just being present in the market, but becoming the owners of so many weighty properties, ”said Karimov.
However, the influence of suddenly warming Russian-Uzbek relations on the social situation of the citizens of Uzbekistan remains a closed topic. When asked what economic changes are taking place in the life of the population of the republic after the rapprochement of Uzbekistan with Russia, one of the representatives of the Russian community, whose name is not indicated for reasons of its security, showed such a pantomime. Sticking his tongue out and, at the same time, showing dangling hands, he continued his story already in the ear: “If the customs conditions are not changed, the tax rates do not suit businessmen, what changes can we talk about?”.
At the same time, according to the Federal State Statistics Service of Russia, the trade turnover of the Russian Federation with Uzbekistan in January-March 2006 amounted to $ 559.9 million, which is 18.6% more than in January-April 2005.
“How many really operating enterprises are created after the meetings of two presidents with the participation of Russian capital?” With such a question, I turned to the statistical department of the Samarkand region, but I did not get any answer, as if everything was kept secret. So make a conclusion "- he complains in the sequel. According to the interlocutor, when people can find work at home, only then will there be changes both in everyday life and in the lives of citizens. In the meantime, large industrial enterprises of Samarkand, founded in the Soviet years, the KINAP cinema equipment factory, elevator-building, porcelain, experimental mechanical, wine-vodka and dozens of light and food-processing enterprises stand idle.
According to a local human rights activist, 2 million Uzbeks went to work in Russia. At the same time, it is necessary to take into account that Uzbeks are not mobile and prefer to build their lives while staying at home, but the need forces them to leave the country. As a rule, they are hired to private employers and carry out construction work, receiving pay several times less than the Russians. Today, unemployment forces people to wander the world in search of work. Thousands of Uzbek men and women are in an illegal situation. They do the worst work in Russia, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Israel, Turkey and the United States. And the rest of the people are mainly engaged in growing cotton, vegetables, silkworm cocoons, or are engaged in handicraft.
In recent years, Uzbekistan has opened several joint ventures with the participation of Russian capital. But all of them are aimed at processing raw materials and supplying finished products from Russia. One of the large joint ventures with the participation of Russian capital is the Baltimor-Chelek enterprise, which mainly deals with the processing of raw materials and the production of canned products from tomato. However, because of a quarrel with local officials, Russian businessmen were forced to cede the reins of government to the Uzbek “oligarchs”.
Is it possible to name the new changes in the political relations of Russia and Uzbekistan, and a new milestone in economic relations? Absolutely not, a journalist who works and lives in Samarkand, who also asked not to give his last name, answers this question. “This is just a distracting maneuver for Karimov before the presidential election,” said the journalist. According to him, President Karimov does not want any country to intervene in the next presidential election of 2007. By doing so, he is trying to avoid confrontation, like in Ukraine, where, on the opposite sides of the barricades, according to many analysts, pro-Western and pro-Russian political movements stood. As the journalist notes, Karimov has just started bargaining, which he will complete after the elections. And there you will see where the wind will blow. The journalist believes that all negotiations with Russia are far-reaching political intrigues, something for his throne.
At the same time, the Uzbek press is spreading information about the Russian business approaching Uzbekistan. On June 7, economic adviser at the Russian embassy Vladimir Kuznetsov announced that the embassy had received a special note from the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “We have been informed that our trade representation is receiving accreditation and legal status in the republic,” he said.
However, ordinary people do not believe the local press and believe that the powers that be and this time will hide the real real life of citizens behind declarative notes.
As noted at the beginning of the conversation with his gestures, a representative of the Russian diaspora, empty talk continues. Meanwhile, hundreds of people, tired of their expectations, daily seek from Uzbekistan to Russia for voluntary illegal labor immigration.
But the Russian delegations arrange magnificent celebrations in honor of the opening of trade missions and various presentations, travel around the regions of Uzbekistan, meeting with local authoritative leaders.
According to a Western analyst, President Karimov has led Uzbekistan to a standstill. There are only a few rogue states in this dead end, such as North Korea or Turkmenistan. For its part, Russia, having certain interests, will not be able to help Karimov overcome the political crisis in the international arena. The Russian government turned a blind eye to the Andijan massacre and received tribute for it. However, time will tell what the Kremlin’s short-sighted policy can turn into and how long the dictator’s love can be.