A hopeful moment for Uzbekistan

Apr 19, 2018-It is a measure of how repressive Uzbekistan was under its first post-Soviet president, Islam Karimov, that the first, tentative steps by his successor to curb the secret police are raising high hopes. Little was expected of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev when he ascended—unconstitutionally—to the presidency on Karimov’s death 19 months ago. Yet he has unexpectedly taken a very different, and so far positive, path. However, the security apparatus is still largely intact, Mirziyoyev still exercises authoritarian powers and, as Human Rights Watch recently reported, censorship is still in force and journalists are still being arrested. But Mirziyoyev has made a beginning, and it is critical that the United States and the European Union link whatever engagement they have with Uzbekistan, whether investment or development programs, to continued improvements in human rights. That is critical not only to ensure that Mirziyoyev stays the course, but also as an example to Uzbekistan’s neighbors, and to any leader who sees benefits in authoritarian and illiberal rule.

Published: 19-04-2018 06:56

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