Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 174

Uzbek President Islam Karimov. (Source: Dispatch News Desk)

Tashkent’s latest official explanation blames Kyrgyzstan for the bloody Andijan

riots on May 13. At a parliamentary meeting on September 5, the Uzbek

Prosecutor-General accused the Kyrgyz government of allowing up to 70 religious

extremists to train on its southern territories ahead of the Andijan riots, claming

that 60 professional gunmen actively participated in the riots and were Kyrgyz

citizens. Deputy Secretary of the Kyrgyz Security Council Vyacheslav Hah denied

these allegations, saying the Kyrgyz side had not found any evidence to back the

charges (Kabar, September 7). The governor of Osh oblast, Naken Kasiev, dismissed

Tashkent’s allegations as nothing less than fantasy.

Uzbekistan’s accusations and its refusal to supply gas to Kyrgyzstan this winter

(see EDM, September 6) point at a deepening Kyrgyz-Uzbek rift. This cooling of

interstate relations reflects the deteriorating security situation in Uzbekistan.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov always defined armed opposition to his regime as a

phenomenon originating in neighboring territories, not at home. Karimov had openly

blamed Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for their inability to adequately insulate their

national territories against guerilla groups, thus contributing to spread of

regional terrorist networks.

While official Tashkent insists on the validity of its allegations, leaders of the

unregistered Uzbek opposition party “Ovoz Dehkhonlar” (Free Farmers) doubt that the

new anti-Kyrgyzstan charges will be accepted internationally. “Authors of such

‘information’ submitted assessments and conclusions that in reality represent poorly

and badly fabricated disinformation,” according to the party’s official declaration

(centrasia.ru, September 10).

Kyrgyzstan may respond to the gas deficit by reducing the amount of water released

to Uzbekistan during irrigation periods. For Uzbekistan’s cotton-dependent economy

Kyrgyzstan’s water management policies are critical during summer and winter. Water

released in southern Kyrgyzstan risks flooding Uzbekistan’s flatlands, but the

country still needs to generate hydroelectricity.

With talks of a possible reduction in the water supply, Kyrgyzstan is openly

confronting Karimov. The former Akayev regime in Kyrgyzstan hardly ever took such

radical measures because, as often claimed by Uzbekistan, “The difference between

gas and water is that gas requires production and transportation that bear costs.

But water runs by itself, not necessitating any labor or expenses”

(unitedcoalition.org, September 18).

The Kyrgyz government enjoys wide public approval for its handling of the Andijan

refugee crisis. Despite the full awareness of the looming gas shortage this winter,

there are few regrets about following requests from the UN refugee agency and

ignoring pressure from the Uzbek government. Amid rapidly falling support for

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and his cadre politics, the refusal to repatriate the

Andijan refugees issue stands as the most popular accomplishment of the new

government. As a member of a local NGO summed it up, “It is doubtful if Akayev would

be courageous enough to make the same decision and openly contradict Karimov.”

Meanwhile, Bakiyev dismissed Prosecutor-General Azimbek Beknazarov on September 19.

The surprising news came shortly after Aidar Akayev, son of former president Askar

Akayev, was stripped of his seat in parliament by a parliamentary vote. Besides

closely dealing with the Andijan refugees this summer, Beknazarov had chaired a

special committee investigating Aidar’s case. Beknazarov commented, “I had two goals

– abolish Akayev’s regime and fight corruption. The regime fell, but the battle

against corruption I lost” (Kabar, September 20). Beknazarov said he would join the


Following the 60th session of the UN General Assembly, Acting Kyrgyz Foreign

Minister Roza Otunbayeva noted that almost all of the delegations had acknowledged

Kyrgyzstan’s efforts to abide by international laws in solving the Andijan refugee

crisis. Also, “At the meeting with European Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Benita

Ferrero-Waldner we discussed issues of bilateral cooperation, gas supply, and

provision of heating this year” (Akipress, September 19).

There are three Kyrgyz citizens among the 15 individuals arrested for the Andijan

uprising. Their trial begins today, September 20, in Tashkent. Tolekan Ismailova,

leader of the Kyrgyz human rights NGO Civil Society against Corruption, has

condemned the detention of the Kyrgyz citizens. Along with other activists,

Ismailova has also reported increased activity by the Uzbek Special Services in

southern Kyrgyzstan, and she thinks the Kyrgyz government should prevent Uzbekistan

from operating on its territory (Fergana..ru, September 19).

Hundreds of Uzbek refugees who fled during the Andijan massacre still reside

throughout southern Kyrgyzstan. Many were not able or refused to officially register

at the refugee camps in Jalalabad. Most of the refugees live with their relatives

without legal registration by Kyrgyz immigration officials. They try to remain

inconspicuous, because the Uzbek government is persecuting family members of the 439

refugees deported in late July to Romania (Vecherny Bishkek, September 19; Radio

Azattyk, September 10). The Kyrgyz Ministry of Foreign Affairs is investigating the

issue of illegal immigrants to formulate a solution to confer some type of legal

status. But local residents are generally negative towards the Uzbek citizens in

their cities, comparing them to religious extremists.

The Kyrgyz newspaper Obshchestvenny reiting (September 15) has questioned

Kyrgyzstan’s ability to accommodate more Uzbek refugees from future crises. The

newspaper comments that Kyrgyzstan is doomed to be a victim of Tashkent’s inhumane

politics towards its own citizens: “The Andijan crisis brought us a murky

perspective – the [Uzbek] central government’s showdown with religious groups will

turn into Kyrgyzstan’s refugee headache. The international community will not be

able to endlessly accommodate Uzbeks around the world.”