The fact that Uzbekistan has only now joined this exclusive list says more about Freedom House than it does about Uzbekistan.
Karimov will use his extended grace period to continue to put his house in order for the day when stern words become sterner words, and possibly renewed sanctions. Until then, the regime will continue its barbarous ways.
As long as these former Soviet republics maintain a Soviet-era view of private property, their future in the modern world will be more than a few nodes away.
Uzbekistan is a terrible place, and will remain so until Islam Karimov is long dead. For the sake of the people of Uzbekistan, let us hope that day comes sooner than later.
With Karimov’s grip on power slowly loosening as mortality does what moral suasion could not, Tashkent cannot afford any threat to whatever succession plan Karimov is currently entertaining.
Tashkent has made an offer to settle the Sokh question once and for all. Satybaldiev’s government needs to reciprocate in good faith. We take the recent talks as a sign that it intends to do so.
Just as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict continues to serve as a drag on two countries’ potentially bright futures, so does the Sokh enclave hamper local and national development in Central Asia.
The Kremlin is concerned enough about increasing ties to the West to feel the need to pooh-pooh Ashton’s visit. One gets the impression that Putin doth protest too much.
All of these nations would benefit from a substantial dose of freedom. The peoples of Central Asia will flourish once they are able to take charge of their respective economic and political destinies.
Karimov’s campaign against modernity, wrapped in the thin guise of protecting the people from themselves, is of course not at all about the dangers of the Internet, or nudity, or terrorism. It is about control.