Uzbekistan. In January, President and dictator Islam Karimov highlighted opposition to Moscow attracting several former Soviet republics into the Euro-Asian Economic Union. Karimov said his country will never join an alliance similar to the Soviet Union. With obvious reference to the Russian Federation, he stated that some countries are trying to glorify the Stalin, which Uzbekistan does not intend to accept. Karimov also said that Uzbekistan should not allow foreign military bases on its territory.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan which is located in Central Asia. Karimov spoke to the newly elected parliament after two ballots in December and January. The election was won by the Liberal Democratic Party with 52 seats, followed by the National Rebirth Party, which increased slightly to 36 seats. Together they had a majority and formed a government alliance.
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According to the OSCE election observers, there was no real competition in the elections. Freedom of speech and association is lacking, according to the OSCE. The four parties that shared 135 seats supported all President Karimov, and the remaining 15 seats went to the government-friendly Ecological Movement. The opposition, who largely lives in exile, called for a boycott of the election, and after the election, it closed one of its websites because employees in the home country were threatened. Human Rights Watch urged the regime to release all political prisoners.
In March, information came out that Karimov’s daughter Gulnara Karimova’s corrupt business is much more extensive than previously known. Karimova may have squeezed out the equivalent of over SEK 8 billion from TeliaSonera and other foreign telecom companies operating in Uzbekistan. TeliaSonera is being investigated for suspicions of bribing Karimova to obtain licenses in Uzbekistan.
In the March presidential election, the one-term Karimov ran for re-election for a fourth term, even though the constitution limits the term to two. According to official data, Karimov received 90.4% of the vote. The other three candidates who were allowed to stand supported all Karimov.
However, Karimov’s power was not unlimited over the senses. Despite the harsh oppression of all opposition, or perhaps because of it and because of unemployment and poverty, many Fergana Valley uzbooks were reported to join the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organization in Syria and Iraq.
TeliaSonera announced in May that the company’s subsidiary will cease funding its disputed cotton harvest in Uzbekistan. Among other things, the company has paid for meals to the forced-paid workers, many of whom are children. The program has received harsh criticism from human rights organizations, and at the beginning of the year, an inspector who came to investigate child labor in the cotton industry was arrested and rejected.
Uzbekistanis in Sweden stated during the year that the Uzbekistan Security Service has stepped up its persecution of opposers in exile. Among other things, an independent online newspaper with editorial staff in Sweden was forced to close after the site was hacked and the secret employees of Uzbekistan were revealed. An opposition imam has been murdered in Turkey, and Swedish SÄPO has investigated Uzbek refugee pioneers. Amnesty described the persecution as very serious and criticized the Migration Board for re-permitting rejections to Uzbekistan after a few months’ stoppage in June.
In August, the Russian Federation extradited to Uzbekistani citizens who on suspicion of the Uzbekistani regime suspected of attempted murder of an opposition imam and politician, Obid Nazarov, in Strömsund 2012. Nazarov is a leading critic of Karimov’s regime and came to Sweden as a refugee in 2006.
In November, charges were filed against the suspected perpetrator, and according to the prosecutor, the attempted murder was ordered by the Uzbek regime. The accused denied the crime, and the Uzbek authorities refused to cooperate with the Swedish judiciary. The extradition from the Russian Federation came after more than three years of inquiry and was believed to be due to deteriorating relations between Moscow and Uzbekistan.
In November, US Secretary of State John Kerry came to a Central Asian meeting in Samarkand, where he met, among others, President Karimov. It was the highest ranking American politician that Karimov had met for years. Kerry was said to have raised human rights issues, but he did not make public criticism.
The United States wants to maintain cooperation with Uzbekistan, a strategic partner for transportation to the military operation in Afghanistan. At the same time, Moscow has shown signs of wanting to strengthen its military presence in the region, citing the risk of infiltrating IS.
During the visit, Kerry’s staff raised named political prisoners with the Uzbek Foreign Minister, after which the regime released opposition politician Murod Jurajev, who has been imprisoned for over 20 years. According to a human rights group, Yurajev has been regularly tortured. He sat in parliament for a party now banned and was convicted of trying to overthrow the regime.