Bakhodir Khan Turkiston: very high cost may have to be paid for the results of current politics

Bakhodir Khan Turkiston is not an enemy of Uzbekistan, its running government, but their friend! He is a brave man, who, from the day he moved to opposition, since he founded Birdamlik Movement, he had been openly expressing his thoughts, views about state management, political issues. It is not without reason the people say “friends tell you the bitter truth, enemies tell you sweet lies.” The politician thinks that the government should function together with the opposition, without opposition it is difficult for any state to move to progress. Bakhodir Khan Turkiston has a dream to see Uzbekistan as an economically powerful state. He has a high passion to contribute to progress of our country, help it with his ideas; he sincerely wants Uzbekistan to hold fair elections like in democratic states and wants to participate at such elections. Below is a record of our interview with Bakhodir Khan Turkiston about today’s vital issues.

Bakhodir Khan Turkiston, at one of online meetings of the Birdamlik People’s Democratic Movement, held about two months ago, you made a speech with the headline “Islam Karimov created a dictatorship and Shavkat Mirziyoyev will continue his work.” This speech of yours was published in social networks and caused much arguments and discussions. Especially, your view about Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who had just taken the office of the President of the country, to continue Islam Karimov’s dictatorship regime was attacked fiercely, i.e., alongside with those who supported you in this, there were people who did not agree with the conclusion. Buy now, when it is over two years since President Shavkat Mirziyoyev took the office. So, in your opinion, is Shavkat Mirziyoyev going in a new political route by having totally refused Islam Karimov’s politics, whom he calls his teacher or is he still using the old methods in state management? What do you think?

We should primarily note that, I think, that fast climbing of Shavkat Mirziyoyev on his career ladder was facilitated by the fact that he was noticed by Tatyana Karimova, now widow of Islam Karimov and his sincere fulfilment of all tasks in the corruption pyramid, created by Tatyana Karimova. Personally Shavkat Mirziyoyev used to take large amounts of bribes from his subordinate authorities and deliver them to Tatyana Karimova. Just think that there are 12 regions in our country. The cost of being appointed governor of each region is somewhere between half a million US dollars to one million US dollars. If the corruption chain in Uzbekistan broadened from 1996, during the 1996-2016, i.e., within 20 years of time, the region governors have been changed for several times. Most of the money taken from them was delivered to Tatyana Karimova. There are 181 districts in the country, including 163 village districts and 18 municipal districts. Being appointed to each district was priced at from 50 000 US dollar to 100 000 Us dollars. All these moneys also used to flow to the hands of Tatyana Karimova. And it was Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who used to personally deliver the money to Tatyana Karimova. In its time, his loyalty and obedience and softness to Islam Karimov and Tatyana Karimova was well valued by Chairperson of NSS Rustam Inoyatov and dictator president Islam Karimov, which positively influenced Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s climb along his career ladder. There are 10-20 agriculture companies in each district. The price of being appointed manager, chairperson to these companies used to cost from 5 000 to 10 000 US dollars. These moneys used to go the Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s pockets in addition to the governors in districts and regions; and Tatyana Karimova had no interest in this. The same shape corruption chain can be seen in the systems of prosecution, internal affairs, court-judicial, and other fields. In each field, they used to have special people, who would deliver the collected bribes to Tatyana Karimova. In this regard, a grounded question may arise as to why ex-Prosecutor General of our country Rashidjon Qodirov is in jail, if he used to duly deliver bribes to Tatyana Karimova. The reason is that Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Prosecutor General had disagreements between them from the early days. Using his authority of president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev put the Prosecutor General into jail, but the punishment will be only symbolic. The billion dollars, which he appropriated, will not be touched for the Prosecutor General earned these moneys by “hardest work.” His property will not be confiscated, even if it is, it will deal with only a small part of it. Utkir Sultonov, who was Prime Minister before Shavkat Mirziyoyev tried to fulfil his functions by having to argue with Islam Karimov based on the interests of the people and state. The former prime minister was against appropriating foreign exchange earnings and was against selling natural gas to China, electricity to Afghanistan. Karimov did not like ex-Prime Minister Utkri Sultonov for his actions in trying to defend people’s interests. Therefore, Karimov moved Utkir Sultonov from his position and appointed loyal Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the office of Prime Minister. During Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s work as Prime Minister, the greed of Islam Karimov and his wife Tatyana Karimova grew worse. They instructed Shavkat Miziyoyev and started selling the electric power and natural gas, which are nation’s wealth, to foreign countries under Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s signature in contracts and appropriating the proceeds. The corruption and bribery climbed up in the country. The conditions of ordinary people continued serious depression. Shavkat Mirziyoyev is not only a loyal pupil of dictator I. Karimov, but also he is a bureaucratic infighter, who received his education in soviet type manner. It is absolutely silly to expect democracy and market economy from him. For he does not understand the valuables of democracy and market economy in his heart and soul. Roughly, Mirziyoyev is working with the following views about a democratic system and market economy: “if we take this way of doing things, our affairs will progress,” but he is not trying to move to the path of democracy and market economy by having understood the sense of democracy and market economy, he has not realised it and he has no affection to it. We can say that the approximate amount of wealth, illegally appropriated by former communists I. Karimov and his wife, , who had ruled Uzbekistan from 1989 to 2016, is about 50 billion US dollars. It can be guessed that accumulated wealth of people, who were around him and close to him, like Rustam Inoyatov, Rashidjon Qodirov, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Rustam Azimov, Botir Parpiyev, Zokir Almatov, Foziljon Mullajonov, Buritosh Mustafoev, M. Abdusalomov, Abdulaziz Komilov, Zelimkhon Haydarov and other oligarchs is about 60 billion UD dollars. Total wealth of all the rest of government management authorities in Uzbekistan can be guessed as equal to 30 billion US dollars. To-date, the thief-pirate managers and their companions, who have been ruling Uzbekistan for the past 30 years have appropriated about 140 billion US dollars’ worth of the property of Uzbek people. By the way, starting from Sh. Mirziyoyev and all government officers should fill-in their Tax declarations about their earnings, but they cannot do it for their secrets and illegal wealth would be disclosed. Currently, Shavkat Mirziyoyev is hiring new managers to establish his new team; therefore, bribe movement is temporarily suspended.

Almost at every speech or publication you make, you talk about the primary need for conducting political reforms in state management, and the uselessness of all other reforms without political reforms. In the above mentioned article, you said: “The basics of each reform to be performed in the country depends on political reforms. Unless political reforms are conducted completely, the rest of the reforms will not give any result. They will all be left unfinished halfway.” In addition, in his addressing to the nation of Uzbekistan in the end of 2018, Shavkat Mirziyoyev spoke about several types of reforms, but never mentioned political reforms. What does this mean? If your definition about reforms is right, would this mean that we will waste another year? So, what are the obstacles to Shavkat Miromonovich to commence serious political reforms?

Shavkat Mirziyoyev does not want to implement political reforms. From now on, I will also try not to write demanding performance of political reforms. The point is that the time to run political reforms has gone. During his ruling, Islam Karimov kept telling people that the country was on the path of democracy, but in reality, he developed dictatorship in the country. Sh. Mirziyoyev is making noise about democracy much more than his predecessor, he is calling people to wake up, but he is making all efforts to put obstacles to the activities of our oppositional Birdamlik People’s Democratic Party: he has limited Internet access seriously, and freedom of speech and press is still under control. The life of activists of our party are under constant pursue and pressure. Unfortunately, Uzbekistan will be getting into deeper crisis in future. During Sh. Mirziyoyev’s ruling, the country will sink deeper into abyss.

Bakhodir Khan Turkiston, you are aware that in Uzbekistan the government announced to call this year “The year of active investments and social development.” In your article: “Islam Karimov created a dictatorship, Mirziyoyev will continue it” you made special stress on the necessity of creating most important and required conditions for attracting investments in the country and gave a comprehensive description of insufficiency of such conditions in our country. Indeed, it is obvious that there are many factors that can easily stop voluntary arrival of foreign investors to our country, for instance, problems with Internet. What do you think about the degree of implementation of the ideas of the head of our state about investments?

Inviting investors to one’s country means creating such convenient conditions that are better than the investors have at their home countries. Even if there is insufficiency of one single condition among hundreds of others, the investor immediately turns around and leaves. In addition, after offering all conditions, investor needs a guarantees and security. Guarantees and security is assessed by the scope of existing and completed reforms. Investors do not come for a short period; they invest into any country with a long-term view. The smooth system of change of the power in the country, established democratic valuables will be the main guarantees and security for investors. Not many investors believe the promises given by dictators. For dictators can be dethroned, or die when it comes to it or unexpectedly, and the investors face certain blow against them. The people may accuse investors for their close relations with a dictator, involvement in corruption. In such cases, it is clear that investors may have to be paying for what they haven’t eaten. Therefore, the investors arriving to a country try to be away from politics as much as possible and not to come close to dictators. On the contrary, they try to get closer to the heads of democratic countries.

Uzbekistan people have two opinions on the reasons of slowness of the reforms of Shavkat Mirziyoyev. The first category think that it is associated with the fact that it is only two years since Sh. Mirziyoyev took the office of the head of the state and two years is not enough time for the country, which had lived in ignorance and stagnation for the past 27 years to wake up. While the second category people comment that on the contrary – in political arena two years represent a sufficient period. However, if we look at things more attentively, personally Shavkat Mirziyoyev has accused several governors and heads of other government organisations and authorities for failure to fulfil their functions, and removed them from office when they haven’t even managed to work for 6 months or 1 year. In my opinion, in today’s conditions it should not be easy for a newly appointed governor to complete everything that he/she has started within 6 months. For example, if a poor governor leaves his/her direct responsibilities in the district, town or region, which he/she is the head of, and gets too much involved in trying to bring investments, he would delay attracting investments depending on the investor. As you said, investors are not stupid, they primarily study the conditions; and it is natural that studying the existing conditions takes certain time. I want to tell this example to those, who think: “two years are not enough in the management system.” What do think the reasons of slowness of the reforms?

As I said at the beginning, no political reforms have been undertaken in the country. The opposition should have been within the reforms, real sound political competition should have been developed between the government and opposition. While these reforms have not been implemented, all attempts to conduct the rest of the reforms in the country will be unsuccessful, useless. In general, Sh. Mirziyoyev is leading the country in the wrong direction. Two and a half years have passed since he had taken the office. This term is considered sufficient to assess the activities of any manager. The country is still under autocracy, the dictatorship is getting stronger. Opposition activities have not been allowed, everything is under control everywhere, and there is only a bare ideology. The people are losing their trust in both Sh. Mirziyoyev and his management and his policy, including, I think that it is natural that in current conditions the newly appointed managers will not be able to demonstrate their abilities and capabilities. Unfortunately, Sh. Mirziyoyev is running a policy that will take Uzbekistan to a crisis, much deeper than it is today; later we will realise how high the cost of the results of this policy will be. It will be much later then. It is to bitter for us to know that the Uzbek people will have to bear most of the burden and difficulties.

Interviewer: Ruziboy Azimy

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