2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN UZBEKISTAN
Friday, 31 July 2015
Nobody even remembers the last election campaign. Islam Karimov turned out to be an acceptable candidate for all: neighbouring countries, and ideologically close regimes and intergovernmental institutions and therefore the elections they accepted the elections as legal and equitable.
However, whatever the interested persons and powers may declare, in reality everything was run exactly on the contrary. This report details the manner how the President of Uzbekistan was re-elected.
NECESSARY PRECEDING EVENTS TO BE SHOWN
The March 2015 elections of 77 year old Islam Karimov were the forth in the chain elections, save his re-election at the Meeting of the Highest Council of the country in 1990, which gave him Presidency for a year and 10 months.
In 1992, on order not to be dependent on favourable disposition of people’s deputies, Islam Karimov made himself President, elected by “all nation voting”, while in 1995, he arranged a “referendum” to extend his authority for three years. As a result, the first “all national” five-year term was turned into eight years to end in 2000 only.
The second term was again extended using a referendum (using its fraudulent interpretation to be exact) for changing the five-year term condition to a seven-year Presidency term; later on another year was secretly added to these seven years to make the second five-year term into another eight years term again.
Additional 3 months were added to Karimov’s third, officially seven-year Presidency term (the 2002 referendum empowered him for a seven years of presidential authority), so this term lasted for 7 years and 3 months.
The details of the events are discussed in articles: “Islam Karimov’s four Presidential terms” (Четыре срока Ислама Каримова), “Hello, again! (И снова здравствуйте!”) Islam Karimov is balloting for Presidency again” (Ислам Каримов идет на выборы) and “Uzbekistan: chronicles of 2007 presidential election campaign” (Узбекистан: хроника избирательной кампании-2007).
In 2002, during his second Presidential term, Karimov’s regime introduced some changes in the legislation of the country, the meaning of which must be explained to everyday who is interested in elections in Uzbekistan, for the changes pre-determined violation of the Constitution and a number of laws for the next decades ahead.
After the 2020 referendum, which had to issues on the agenda – introduction of a two house parliament and extension of the Presidential term from five years to seven years (not a specific President, but the Presidential service term in general), the condition of running presidential elections in December of the year of expiry of the existing president’s constitutional authority was introduced in Article 117 of the Constitution of the country and the Law “About the results of the referendum and main principles of organisation of governmental power”.
This carelessly formulated phrase (probably, it meant that the elections must take place in December of the last full year of the President’s authority) was lately interpreted in a way that the existing President must remain in his authority for about another year (11.5-13 months) upon expiry of his/her term (that expires in mid-January, in seven years upon his taking office), – 11.5 months to the elections, planned for the end of December, and 2 months and 10 from the date of elections and until the newly elected president taking his office. This was how an additional eighth year of officially seven-year term of presidency was generated.
Using this opportunity, Islam Karimov continued “sitting in the chair” for an additional year after his second, initially five-years term, which was first turned into a seven-years – after the referendum that does not have any relation to it, and later, by default, into the eight-years term (totalling from January 22nd 2000 to January 16th 2008). The same would have happened after the third presidential term of Islam Karimov “ruling” if they had not had to move the elections from December 2015 to March 2015. So, Karimov continued his ruling for additional three months only (from January 16th 2008 to April 10th 2015).
Despite everything that the Mass media wrote and said, the elections were moved to the spring of 2015 not from December 2014 but from December 2015 (i.e., moved back and not forward). This was caused by the fact that the parliament elections were planned for December 2014. And according to the constitutional Law “About the results of the referendum and main principles of organisation of governmental power”, introduced after the 2002 referendum, in case of coincidence of parliament and presidential election dates, the mandate of the parliament members is EXTENDED FOR A YEAR (i.e., the parliament elections are postponed to December of the following year).
On the evident reason the Uzbek authorities try not to attract attention to the fact the Karimov continues ruling as President a year longer than it is established by the Constitution. Therefore, having failed to get to the root of the issue, the foreign Mass Media had assumed that the Presidential elections would have been held in seven years after the previous elections, i.e., in December 2014. And, that meant that in accordance with the Law “About the results of the referendum and main principles of organisation of governmental power” the parliament elections must have been postponed to December 2015.
But if the parliament elections were held in the planned time of December 2014, and the Presidential elections would not have been held for some reason (the Presidential elections would have been held because the government were going to hold the elections on the basis of the existence of the “concealed” eighth year of the Presidential mandate), then all the affair with an additional year on top of the official seven-years term would have been discovered, which would have drawn a wide international response.
Moving the parliament elections to a year forward would have been impossible for the real Presidential elections would have been held in December 2015, taking into account the “stolen” additional year (i.e., the parliament and Presidential election dates would have coincided in a scandalous manner).
Therefore, Karimov had to grudgingly reduce his current office term and move the Presidential elections to a neutral time for nobody to notice, thus, he managed to REDUCE HIS THIRD OFFICE TERM FOR NINE MONTHS. In the meanwhile, the cancelled the condition of the Law “About the results of the referendum and main principles of organisation of governmental power” that envisaged extension of the mandate of parliament members in case of coincidence of the election times.
Islam Karimov. Photo from an old newspaper
Let’s talk about Islam Karimov’s third and fourth Presidential terms. The Constitution of Uzbekistan reads that “one and the same person may not the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan for two consecutive terms” (Article 90). This condition is easily and clearly understood and no other law or governmental-normative document ties the number of presidential service terms with their duration or introduction of any changes in the Main Law. Therefore, Karimov should not have run already for the third time in 2007.
But he bypassed the existing limitation very easily and without any embarrassment: the local Mass Media was banned to hint about Article 90 of the Constitution and use the very phrase of “third service term”. Mr Islam Karimov became a candidate for presidency, and then “won” the elections without bothering to explain to anybody as if there had been no Constitutional banning. It was natural that the “election observers” from CIS, ICO and SCO countries announce the 2007 elections fair and equitable.
Everything was repeated in 2015: Islam Karimov was running for Presidential elections again, but the Uzbek Mass Media tried all means to avoid stating the sequential number of the future Presidential term of Karimov (of course, they would immediately be closed). It was also natural that neither the Central election Commission, nor the Constitutional Court, nor the General Prosecutor’s Office, nor any authorities, the heads of which are personally appointed by Islam Karimov by a formal procedure of presentation, “noticed” any violation of any law. They never and nowhere commented this blatant violation of law.
Two additional notable events occurred between the 2007 and 2015 Presidential elections: firstly, in December 2011, upon Karimov’s presentation the Presidential service term was reduced from constitutionally established 7 (8) years to 5 (6) years. The numbers in brackets indicate the time of real duration of the President’s service term taking into account the “concealed” additional year. This amendment became to force from his current, fourth term.
We should note that cancellation of the results of the 2002 referendum on extension of the mandate of the President from 5 to 7 years was also illegitimate for the Law “Abut referendums in the Republic of Uzbekistan” clearly says that any decisions, taken by way of referendums have the highest legal force and can only be cancelled by way of referendums. Of course, in this given specific case, there was hardly anybody in Uzbekistan to be against this violation.
The very condition in Article 117 of the Constitution on running presidential elections in December of the year of the expiry of the authorities of the head of the state that had been introduced in the Main Law on the basis of the results of the said referendum has been left unchanged. So, the results of the “all national referendum” were cancelled selectively.
Islam Karimov. Poster in a Kibray village street
Another innovation was introduced in December 2008, when independent candidates nominated by citizen groups were legally deprived of the opportunity to be elected. New amendments were introduced into the Law “About elections of the President”, which establish that only those political parties, registered by the Ministry of Justice retain the right to nominate candidates to the position of the head of the state. This means that only those marionette formations, founded by Karimov’s personal instructions have these rights for imitation of a multiparty system.
The Constitution reads that all citizens have equal identical rights and freedoms and are legally equal; whilst we have the situation that for some reason members of a party have the right to nominate their candidate, while the rest of the citizens are deprived of such right. By the way, it is useless to talk about observance of legality in the Republic of Uzbekistan.
START OF THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN
Nobody even doubted that Islam Karimov wanted to become President for the fourth time. According to a press-release by France-Press back in May 2014, at the opening ceremony of an International Conference in Samarqand, Islam Karimov rhetorically noted: “I am one of those, who is criticised for keeping the office long. I am criticised but I do not stop. They criticise me, but I want to continue. What is wrong in this?”
He could not do otherwise for should he lose power, he would have lost freedom, and all his henchmen – ministers, judges, high rank officials, law enforcement authorities, diplomats, large government related businessmen would soon be dismissed, i.e., would have been deprived of their sources of enrichment. In other words, Karimov is now a hostage of the system, created by himself, like an old General Secretary of Soviet era Political Bureau of the Communist Party.
After his loud announcement Uzbek Mass Media did not even make a hint about the Presidential elections for about half a year until the official commencement of the election campaign (local newspapers and web-sites were simply afraid of writing about it).
Mirza-Ulugbek Abdusalomov. Photo by Sherzod Ikramutdinov, Gazeta.uz
On December 26, Mirza-Ulugbek Adbusalomov, former Constitutional Court judge, appointed by Karimov to the position of the Head of the Central election Commission in 2005 and, who helped Karimov falsify the results of the previous elections, announced that the elections would be held on March 29 2015 and hereby the election campaign was started.
The first announcement of the Head of the Election Campaign was totally a lie. During his announcement of triggering the election campaign, Mr Abdusalomov made references to some articles of the Constitution and other laws. But the referenced articles and paragraphs read totally different things, particularly, Article 90 of the Main Law, on the contrary, prohibits the President to run for the mandate for the third time. See here for details.
It is clear, in the interest of his boss, Mr Abdusalomov was to camouflage the reason of the moving the election date from December 2015 to March 2015. But he could only do it very badly as badly could be, and clumsily this proving his total professional unsuitability for the occupation.
According to the legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan, election campaigns last for three months. The first month is spent without any candidates for the president’s position. This month is spent for establishing electoral districts and sites.
The second month sees each political party (there are four parties in Uzbekistan), admitted to the election, collecting signatures for their candidate of no less than 5% of the total number of electors (i.e., 1.039.902 signatures) and submits the signature sheets to the CEC for checking the authenticity of signatures.
It is quite significant that according to the Law “About elections”, PRIOR TO NOMINATING their candidates, the parties have to submit information about their nominees to the Ministry of Justice. This means submitting information to the head of a government body, appointed by Karimov, who is their future opponent. In reality – it is submission of information for approvals by the monarch.
Then within a five days period the Central Election Commission take FINAL DECISION on admission of the given party to the elections.
Billboard with a picture of Islam Karimov
This is followed by parties collecting signatures in favour of their candidate (they should collect no less than 5 % of the total number of all electors in Uzbekistan representing at least 8 administrative-territorial formations). Upon completion of signature collection, the Law “About elections of the President of Uzbekistan” requires that the head of the party approaches the CEC with a request to register their candidate (please, pay attention that you can’t imagine of the right of the parties to enjoy their constitutional right – the parties have to BOWINGLY REQUEST the Central Election Commission).
Within a seven days period, the Central Election Commission checks the collected signatures and issues a conclusion. If the signatures are classified as authentic, the candidates are registered as participants of the election campaign. Those who have been sued for deliberate crimes, and, – attention!!! – “citizens, chased by law due to triggered law court investigations against them” may not be allowed for registration. This means that it is sufficient to initiate an investigation for any trifle reason – and there you are! – the competitor is automatically deprived of the registration, he may be acquitted ten times thereafter – this does not matter. (This is very convenient, isn’t it?) The registered candidates start their agitation campaign, which usually lasts no longer than the remaining third month, or 35 days to be exact.
According to this procedure, on January 17, the representatives of the four officially registered parties – Liberal-Democratic, Peoples-Democratic, Democratic Party of “Milliy tiklanish (“National renaissance”) and Social Democratic party (“Justice”) submitted all required documents to the CEC. In two days’ time a decision was made to admit them to participate at the elections, and they started signature collection in favour of their candidates.
According to the Law “About the election of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan” “collection of elector signatures is performed at working, servicing, education locations, residence of citizens, at pre-election events, and at other locations, where agitation and signature collection are not prohibited by law”. Signatures in favour of candidates are not collected in the streets: this they would not be able to collect sufficient signatures for their entire lives.
Signatures for Karimov and other candidates were collected in the administrative-enforcement manner. For instance, according to the news by Radio Ozodlik (Radio Freedom Uzbek service), the students of the Tashkent University of Information technologies were made to sign in favour of Islam Karimov. “ON January 23, the professors gathered the students and distributed some sheets […] The sheets allegedly contained some text on: I support the candidate of existing President Islam Karimov at Presidential elections. Nobody was even asked if he/she agreed with that”, – said a student to the radio Ozodlik.
According to another student of the same University, they were given already prepared forms, which contained text about their agreement with the candidature of Islam Karimov at the Presidential elections. Everybody was made to sign and the authorities made sure that nobody could walk away anywhere. Those, who were absent on that day, were called on the next day and made sign the sheets.
Radio Ozodlik reported that the employees of the Navoiy Mining-Metallurgical Combinat were made to sign in favour of Islam Karimov, against threat of dismissal. “Our managers were over our heads and told us to sign that we supported the candidature of Islam Karimov. I told them that I wanted to vote for a different candidate and I was told to go and work for the company of that candidate”, – told an employee of the combinat.
Forced collection of signatures was performed all over Uzbekistan. The director of a school in Alat district of Bukhara oblast told Radio “Ozodlik” that at a general meeting at the National Education department, the management distributed some sheets in favour of the candidates from the four parties to the attendants and told them to go and collect signatures for all the candidates, starting from teachers up to yard cleaners. According to the information by Ozodlik radio, in rural areas the milking mothers with infants were made to sign the signature sheets threatening them to deprive of the infants allowances.
Billboard with an image of Akmal Saidov
The parties were to collect a total of 4.159.608 signatures, while 15 members of CEC were to check these signatures within eight days only. Thus each member of the Central Election Commission was to check 277.307 signatures; and to do that he/she would have worked without stopping days and nights at a checking rate of 4.6 signatures a second. One may not doubt that in reality nobody checked anything, taking into account the fact that were all “our own guys”, i.e., already checked as they are.
In any case, everybody had to accept the announcements of the chairman of the Central Elections Commission that all necessary signatures had been collected, checked and classified as acceptable. The same happened during the 2007 electoral campaign, when the CEC could not prove the existence of 3.259.000 signatures, allegedly collected in support of the four pretenders for the highest government position.
NOMINATION OF CANDIDATES
Theoretically we could have made a brief tour back and recollect how and when a party was founded and what their goals are. But there is no sense in doing this: these amorphous formations do not have any ideas or any values; they are only there for “What else can I do for you?” ideology. Should Islam Karimov order them to start doing something else, they immediately start doing that.
On January 15 2015 the Liberal-Democratic Party of Uzbekistan (UzLiDeP) was the first to nominate their candidate. This was the existing President Islam Karimov. It was UzLiDeP who nominated him at the previous elections in 2007 despite the condition in the Constitution of the country that Islam Karimov could not run for the elections for the third term.
The Uzbekistan Mass Media reported that his nomination “was unanimously supported by all attendants of the meeting” and the party nominated him “taking into consideration the electorate opinion”. One cannot answer the question why UzLiDeP did not take into consideration the legislation of the country.
It is now for about eight year that the Russian publication Lenta.ru publishes articles, where they try to explain each following nomination of Islam Karimov by referring to his unnamed “supporters” on the assumption that upon introduction of amendments in the Constitution Karimov’s service terms “becomes seven years”, or “five years again”. Dear journalists of Lenta.ru!!! First of all, Mr Karimov had already served two five year terms, which he turned into eight years terms and completely went through all of the possible terms; on the second hand, none of his supporters announced anything about this – you made this out yourselves.
Billboard with an image of Nariman Umarov
According to the Law “About elections of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan” nomination of candidates starts 65 days prior to the election date and ends 45 prior to the elections (i.e., in this case, from January 24 to February 13), therefore officially Islam Karimov was nominated on February 6 at the congress of the UzLiDeP in Tashkent.
At their official announcement of the congress the liberals” justified the reason why they nominated Islam Karimov again: “UzLiDeP hereby are of the opinion that the on-going reforms for construction of a developed democratic state and strong civil society in Uzbekistan can be continued and improved to higher levels only by the initiator of these reforms – Islam Karimov” (What kind of reforms the liberals meant here is a riddle; no reforms are being carried out in Uzbekistan – AsiaTerra)
Islam Karimov personally read a report at this congress, where, as the Mass Media reported, “determined the main orientation of work for the coming years”. In particular, he said that it is necessary to ensure full freedom for development of private property and private entrepreneurship, reduce state presence in the economy to the strategic and economically justified sizes, continue improvement of localisation of production and expand the share of investments in the country’s economy. In general, Islam Karimov reported something, which he had been announcing at least from 2006, which he did not bother implementing in practice.
It is funny to know that, for obvious sake of diversity, almost each time Islam Karimov is nominated by a different party. In 1991 he was a candidate from the National-Democratic Party (former Communist Party of Uzbek Soviet Republic, which had been renamed into the NDPU at his instructions a while before nomination); in 2000 – the Fidokorlar (Self-sacrificers) that merged lately with the National renaissance Party) nominated him for presidency.
On January 15 and 16 2015, the rest of the candidates were nominated: from NDPU – Hatamjon Ketmonov, from National Renaissance – Akmal Saidov, from Adolat (Justice) party – Nariman Umarov. Later they were nominated officially. On February 14 2015 the CEC registered all the candidates and thus their electoral campaign was triggered.
We shall give some brief information about the competitors of the existing President. While Ketomonov and Umarov had not been popular to the wide community before, Akmal Saidov, the candidate from the National renaissance party, who had participated at the 2007 election, is a sufficiently known personality, mainly for his odium, to tell the truth.
He is a very rich biography. He is 56, Doctor of Law, professor. Former Comsomol leader. From April to December 1989 – Head of the Department of Ideology of the Central Committee of Comsomol of Uzbekistan, then, until 1991 – Chairman of the Committee for Youth Organisations of the country. Thereafter, he often changed the chairs and consecutively worked as the Director of Institute of Philosophy and Law of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan, Director of the Tashkent Institute of World Problems at the President of Uzbekistan, and rector of the Tashkent Institute of Law. In 1994-1996 – Ambassador of Uzbekistan to France and representative of Uzbekistan at UNESCO. From November 2006 Mr Saidov took the position of the Director of the National Centre of Uzbekistan on Human rights, which is an entirely decorative institution.
During past few years, Akmal Saidov demonstrated his “charisma” at international platforms. For instance, in 2013, when the UNO Committee against tortures in Geneva considered the report of Uzbekistan delegation on fulfilment of the relevant convention, the Head of Uzbek delegation Mr Akmal Saidov shouted, rigorously waving his hands, throwing papers and by all means demonstrated the fury and indignation that fully captured him.
Billboard with an image of Hatamjon Ketmonov
Hatamjon Ketmonov, 45, is the Chairman of the Central Council of NDPU (former Communist Party), the candidate with a funny Uzbek surname (in English it would sound like Mr Mattock). His profession is a teacher of Russian and Russian Literature. He was elected Chairman of the Central Council of NDPU in 2013, prior to that he worked at the Administration of Andijan oblast. In 2014 Mr Ketmonov was elected deputy to the lower house of Uzbek parliament. Married, has three children.
Nariman Umarov, 62 is the Chairman of the Political Council of the Social-Democratic Party “Justice”. He is also the Head of the Parliamentary Commission for Democratic Institutions (i.e., head of something that does not exist at all), nongovernmental organisations and civil self-management bodies. In 1974 Mr Umarov graduated from Tashkent Poly-technical Institute on the speciality of engineer-hydro geologist. He is the author of 50 scientific articles and 7 monographs. In 2009, Akmal Saidov was appointed the Head of the State Committee on Environmental Protection. He is married and has three children.
Let us add some information to the official biography of Islam Karimov. Traditionally all press-releases indicate that “he is married and had two daughters and five grandchildren”, but one cannot find any indication anywhere about his son from his first marriage – Peter Karimov. One can assume that the reason of the fast career rise of a young engineer were not his excellent organisational and other talents, but his “correct” marriage to a daughter of Mr Peter Kuchma, General Director of Tashkent Aviation Plant (TAP named after Chkalov).
It is rather interesting to remember that in early 1990’s, an age limitation was introduced to the legislation of Uzbekistan for candidates for President’s position – they were to be no older than 65. This was justified by the succession of deaths of Soviet leaders one after another. However, in a few years’ time this condition was somehow cancelled.
We should note that when Mr Brezhnev died he was 75; Andropov – 69 and Chernenko – 73. The Uzbek Leader is older than any of the three. The old age clearly makes you notice: almost in his every speech ИIslam Karimov asks the Uzbek people not to lapse into euphoria from achieved success. Sometimes Mr President talks absolute nonsense, which is not permissible for the leader of a state.
A known example happened in June 2013 during his visit to the Jizak oblast, where he accused the Uzbek labour migrants in Russia for the lack of will to work, but they send billions of dollars to Uzbekistan annually: “Who do I think as lazy? Those who go to Moscow to sweep the streets and squares. What is there to find in Moscow/Russia? This causes disgust… I call them lazy for they disgrace all of us to earn much money fast”. Over two has passed since then and nothing has been added to his lucidity of mind.
The program by the main candidate – Islam Karimov – did not contain anything new. Islam Karimov repeats his points every year in one or other ways.
In his speech at UzLiDeP congress, Islam Karimov shamelessly boasted by claiming that since gaining independence (i.e., during his ruling), from a backward, edge of abyss region, which was the last in the standard of lifestyle in the former USSR, Uzbekistan was turned into a dynamically and stably developing country. He also mentioned about the “Uzbek economic model” allegedly acknowledged by the world, and as usual, called people not to lapse into euphoria.
Below are some points from Karimov’s electoral program:
“The most important priority task […] – elimination of all obstacles and limitations, giving full freedom in the way of development of private property and private entrepreneurship”. He spoke about this in his report on the results of year 2014; and Mr Karimov has been talking about “elimination of all obstacles and limitation” for development of private property since 2011. (Please, note that upon Karimov’s personal instructions in 2011, dozens of markets and thousands of little shops had been demolished, while their owners did not get any compensation for this and many of them went bankrupt.
“We thing it expedient to initiate a special program for radical reduction of the share of the state in economic activities that includes liquidation of inefficient state companies, their 100% transfer to private ownership, including at “zero” sales cost, via open, transparent sales with relevant investment obligations”. Mr President has been talking about selling state enterprises at zero sales cost since 2006, in other words, he started announcing this before the previous elections (see – here, here and here). It is clear that the President tried to present a nine year old statement as a brand news idea.
“It is intended to build 25 000 accommodation houses on 39 standard designs in rural locations. This would be work for the amounts, equivalent to 2.1 billion US dollars. This will involve investments from Asian and Islam Development Banks”. (these are the “cottages” with red roofs, which are imposed to farmers and rural calibre rich people, because these houses are very expensive; for the amount for one such house a family can build 2-3 similar houses).
Islam Karimov’s Election speech
“Today every other family in Uzbekistan has a car, which is produced in our country. Actually every family has high-tech items at home, without which it is difficult to live – mobile phones, notebooks, satellite and cable TV, freezers and kitchen equipment”.
“Advancing growth of salaries and pensions as opposed to consumer goods prices raise ensures improvement of the solvency of population and consumer demand”.
“We think it inadmissible to join any military blocks, placing any foreign military bases in the territory of Uzbekistan and disposition of our military forces outside the country”.
It is obvious the competitor-candidate programs were absolute formality and we will not concentrate on them. We can only note that their programs mainly consisted of general vague phrases about nothing. The main objective of the competitor-candidates was not to look cleverer than Islam Karimov (though it was not easy). The content of their “election points” almost did not differ from each other, which had been declared by other pseudo-candidates eight years ago that mostly praised the “reforms of the President” than announcing their own plans and intentions.
The first few paragraphs of their official programs in 2015 election speeches contained laudation of the myth on how well people started living in Uzbekistan under the leadership of Islam Karimov, how smart reforms are underway etc. And only later on the candidates would start telling their own opinions that were quite conceptual and evasive. The representatives of the Limited Mission for observing the Presidential Elections of the Bureau on Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of OSCE (LMOPE OSCE/BDIHR) made a note of this: “Existing president is represented by other candidate to the positions and representatives of the parties as the best candidate”.
For instance, below are some abstracts of the election program of Nariman Umarov (Justice Party):
“We think that where there is not strong and fair judicial power, the law and justice requirements are inevitably violated, and we will try to strengthen the authority of the judicial power” (Please, note that we are not talking about independence of the court).
We are of the opinion that the regulating activity of the government must play an important role in ensuring the stable innovative development of the economy. And the economy must be supported by the latest achievements of science and equipment, and by the education system that cultivates advanced innovative thinking” (Bla-bla-bla)
Nariman Umarov election speech
“Our plans will also be concentrated on the issues of use of renewable energy sources”.
“Local community units – Mahallas – are the main way to the civil society. We think in necessary to give them a number of authorities of state bodies at local territories to the unique social institution of Mahallas to ensure its transition to a real centre for targeted social protection of population”.
Below are the points from official program of Hatamjon Ketmonov (NDPU):
In the social protection sector, we propose the following:
“Direct the social protection system for elimination of the dependency/parasitism mood among population, stimulation of people to initiative approach, encouragement of labour and entrepreneurship activity, and ensure distribution of allowance and material aid mainly to the low income families, elderly people and children” (Take everything and distribute).
“Improve the efficiency of state control over formation of prices for socially significant goods and services of first priority for the purposes of keeping price and tariff raise rates below inflation rates”. (All infernal here, Good day, Madura!!!)
“Develop measures intended for organisation of production, based upon modern methods and technologies by way of involving foreign investments and organisation of jobs for qualified specialists”.
Election speech by Hatamjon Ketmonov
The candidate expressed a few ideas on ensuring broad access and high quality of medical aid to population. With this regard, it is hereby proposed:
“Undertake measures to expand a network of rural doctors’ centres that ensure convenient and fast access to the first medical aid, especially for the population of rural settlements”.
“Increase in control over the activities of pharmaceutical companies and drugs store institutions, formation of prices for medications and equipment, and limit advertising of medications”.
Below is taken from the official program of Akmal Saidov (National renaissance).
“Our main purpose for the nearest future is implementation of the national reconnaissance idea, protection and targeted promotion of national interests in internal and foreign policy, preservation and enrichment of national-cultural and intellectual-moral values, traditions and customs the people of Uzbekistan”.
In Mr Saidov’s opinion, to achieve this “noble purpose” it is necessary to “approve the priority of the national ideology, moral and intellectual basics of society”, “strengthening of the unity of the nation, all citizens of Uzbekistan irrespective of their nationality, religion, social position and origin”, further modification of the national democratic institution of “Mahalla”, strengthening of its organisational and economic basics..”
Mr Saidov is also a supporter of “continuous and systematic study of the history of Uzbekistan, based on the principles of objectiveness, refusal from unilateral dogmatic approaches to assessing the historical past and present of the Uzbek People” and “education of the youth in the principles of the national reconnaissance idea, respect of the national culture and values for the purpose of protection from negative influence of the “massive culture”, which is totally strange to our people.
In the economy sector, Mr Saidov and his Party are for “taking systematic and targeted measures for promotion of goods marked “Made in Uzbekistan” to world markets by way of efficient support of local producers, intended for production of import replacement products, including by way of application of tax and customs duty privileges and preferences”, and “protection of the national market from intrusion of low quality goods and services that do not meet the requirements of international standards” and “ensuring the needs of our people, youth in modern and quality locally produced clothing”.
According to him, the priority tasks of the social sector are, in particular, “improvement of catering/food structure of the population, increase of production of quality and safe local food products, limitation of use of gene modified organisms in production of food products, and formation of the standards/culture of public food/catering”.
In the foreign policy sector, Mr Saidov and his team are for “development of international cooperation on ensuring overall protection of the rights, freedoms and legal interests of citizens and legal entities of the Republic of Uzbekistan in foreign countries” (At least soothing useful).
It seems that the program of the author of the “Uzbek economic model” cannot be overcome on the degree of idiocy, but Mr Saidov managed to do it. But, for the person is clearly not an idiot, then it is obvious that this was done deliberately. Please, note that the points of his “economic” block he included something that the existing President has been doing for the past many years!
Election speech by Akmal Saidov
None of the candidates mentioned the most required things for economic and political development of Uzbekistan – independence of courts, free Mass Media, fair elections, freedom of economic activity and transparency of government bodies. And finally fighting the corruption. None of the candidates for the highest position in the country even dared utter this word. Nobody even hinted the requirement of taking the country out of self-isolation. Every candidate, including Islam Karimov avoided to speak about the most vital problem of the population – electricity and gas cut-offs, lack of hot water in rural areas.
The competitors of the latter carefully avoided the “earning” sector of the Big Family and its surroundings; the issues of foreign exchange, picking and import of cotton, free trade, gold and uranium exports were successfully forgotten. All candidates were busy telling people approximately the same content, by singing praises to the “reforms” of the President and trying to look as less noticeable as possible.
Islam Karimov himself ignored to explain to the electors his attitude to the fact that the corruptive activities of his daughter Gulnora are under investigations in France, Switzerland, Norway and USA, nor he bothered to tell people how his younger daughter Lola Karimova-Tillaeva became a richest lady in Switzerland. He also ignored his wife’s nephew Akbarali Abdullaev, who also became a multi-millionaire in a short period of time.
OPPOSITION AND THEIR VIRTUAL ELECTIONS
It was natural that no independent candidate was admitted to the elections. This has always been the case save the 1991 elections, when Islam Karimov had a real competitor – Muhammad Solih (Salay Madaminov); but this time, as we said above, they were all deprived of the right to nominate any candidates from citizen groups. Therefore, there were no self-nominated candidates, who annoy the government by their insistent attempts to get registered.
Out of those, who attempted to participate at the Presidential elections, some are already dead while the others are too far from the country. Valery Galkin died, Ahtam Shaymardanov left the country; nothing can be heard about Akbar Aliev and Suhbat Abdullaev; only Abdullo Tojiboy-Ugli and Jahongir Shosalimov try to stir the mud in the water within their capabilities.
In their turn, a rights protection group from the unofficially acting “Human rights Alliance of Uzbekistan” attempted пto appeal against nomination of the existing President for the first time by approaching various instances, including the Constitutional Court and General Prosecutor’s Office in an obvious hope that somebody would react. It would have been unnatural if they received any reaction.
Yet the “Initiative group of Independent human rights activists of Uzbekistan” called the people not to vote for the existing President or to generally boycott the elections. The Group indicated that for the 26 years of ruling by Islam Karimov no positive changes have happened either in politics, or economy or social sector of the country. Their appeal to the citizens of the country said: “Do not forget that independent Uzbekistan belong to you!”
At the same time a few opposition representatives abroad proposed an innovation of virtual presidential elections and established the Virtual election Commission (VEC). The commission consisted of 11 human rights activists including Mutabar Tajibaeva and Abdujalil Boymatov, social activist Muhammadsolih Abutov, journalist Ulugbek Bakirov, political analyst Kamoliddin Rabbimov and a few other Uzbekistani people
This group declared that they wanted to organise truly free elections with a simplified procedure for registration of all willing to be candidates for demonstration of the possibility of honest and transparent election campaign.
кампании. A representative of the VEC said to the IA Fergana: “We want to show to Uzbek society and the entire world that it possible and necessary to hold free, honest and competitive elections in Uzbekistan”.
The group set up a web site for the Virtual elections Commission – saylov2015.org, where three official competitors of Islam Karimov were registered as candidates (for they have full rights to participate at these elections), and nine other self-nominated candidates were registered.
Candidates for the Presidency of the Republic of Uzbekistan, registered by the Virtual Election Commission
Candidates for the Presidency, acknowledged by opposition
The following candidates were registered: Bahodir Choriev, lives in the USA, leader of “Birdamlik” (Solidarity) opposition Party; Dilshodjon Usmonov, entrepreneur, a son of famous businessman Rustam Usmonov, who has been in prison already for 17 years; residents of the USA Mirrahmat Muminov and Mohira Ortiqova (wife of the British Embassy security guard Qayum Ortiqov, who had to spend 2.5 years on a falsified accusations); Usman Baratov, who lives in Russia and represents “Vatandosh” (Compatriot) Uzbek diaspora organisation («Соотечественник»); resident of Sweden, oppositionist Hazratqul Hudoyberdi; resident of Turkey, Islam activist Namoz Normumin; entrepreneur Salohiddin Uzmonov; and Tashkent human rights activist Shuhrat Rustamov.
The candidates declared their programs and proposed to elect out of the 11 candidates. “The process itself is important for us – free, honest and legal elections without Islam Karimov, who is not the guarantor, but the regular violator of the Main Law of the republic of Uzbekistan”, – пexplained the candidates in an interview to “Fergana”.
This simple innocent initiative overwhelmed the Uzbek regime: some hacker attacks were organised to the site and 6 days before the elections on March 23 its contents were deleted by somebody. Nevertheless, part of the virtual electors had managed to vote and the vote count as on March 22 showed that winner of the virtual elections was Political emigrant, living in the USA Bahodir Choriev, Leader of the “Birdamlik” party. The second and third places were taken by the official competitors of Islam Karimov with images of the candidates, Islam Karimov – Hotamjon Ketmonov and Akmal Saidov.
ELECTION CAMPAIGN PROCESS
The only attribute of the 2015 Presidential elections campaign were big billboards with pictures of the candidates. The billboards were installed along main streets and roads and road crossings (nothing similar could be noted at previous elections). Each candidate was made available 829 adverting boards all over the country. All candidates looked very smart on the pictures. Islam Karimov became about 20 years younger and looked so much like a benevolent uncle.
Everything else was as usual. Usual weasel words and traditional glorification in Mass Media, endless mentioning of “large scale reforms”, “Uzbek development model”, in general, “groundhog day” in its height. At times the candidates went to the regions and made speeches – but not before the electors, but to the pre-prepared “activists”.
This was noted in the interim report by the OSCE/BDIHR delegation: “Despite the significance of the Presidential elections, there are practically no signs of any pre-election race. Though all four candidates are in the process of holding meetings with electors all over the country, usually some accredited representatives make speeches on their behalf”. “No public debates between the candidates or their representative have been held during the pre-election campaign”.
Each party received state funding for imitation of the election campaign in the amount of 842 million Uzbek Soums (approximately $245.000.00 at “black market” rates). The OSCE/BDIHR observers noted: “Though the law permits voluntary contributions from political parties, organisation and citizens, all political parties announced that the state subsidised funding was sufficient”.
However, early in February the sad election campaign process was disturbed by the fact that the main candidate disappeared from the social field of vision for a whole three weeks period.
Representative of Uzbek opposition abroad were the first to notice the disappearance of the President, and published a message on their site that according to their information, from January 28 Islam Karimov was in coma aberration. The opposition made such announcements in the previous years and therefore nobody took this message seriously.
But when the state television did not show Islam Karimov’s speech at the congress of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Uzbekistan, when he was officially nominated to the Presidency, foreign journalists and experts, who had been following the events in the country, “picked their ears up”.
They recalled that Islam Karimov had been last seen publicly on January 27 2015 to receive credentials from the new Ambassador of the USA Pamela Spratlen, and started looking for any possible signs of his presence or absence.
Yet nothing special was happening, despite one thing: the decorative candidates continued visiting the regions of Uzbekistan and making election speeches; the television continued showing all this, but the main candidate could not be seen anywhere. And none of the “competitors”, no local Mass Media, no authority of the country, including the President’s Press service said anything about the disappearance of the President. The election campaign continued its process without him as of nothing had happened.
Uzbekistan had not ever seen a situation like this. The longer the President remained absent, the more this disappearance was discussed in social networks and internet forums. Some prognosticated that if Karimov has disappeared without trace, then one of the registered competitors will become a real winner, for instance, Mr Ketmonov. But on February 19 2015, the President left his “coma state”: the state television reported that he flew out to Qashqadarya oblast to continue his election campaign. No official explanations followed on the reasons of his long absence.
From that day on, the entire election campaign of Islam Karimov was continuously reported by local Mass Media; the newspapers published his speeches and reported on his movements from one oblast to another. On March 21, Islam Karimov attended the celebrations of Navrus (Holiday of Coming Spring) and demonstrated his dancing skills for several minutes.
Islam Karimov, UzA processed photo, 2015
The OSCE representatives managed to find very interesting information (by the way, in Uzbekistan they found themselves under observation of special services of the country. Some Uzbek “official authorities” finally explained the reason why Islam Karimov was running for the Presidency for the fourth time.
“Though the Constitution of the country limits serving two consecutive terms by one person, current President is nominated for re-election for the third term during the validity of the Constitution, – – says the interim report of the delegation. – the CEC notified OSCE/BDIHR of the decision on the fact that it’s the political parties job to nominate candidates, while the authority of the Central elections Commission is to check the legality of the right of any party to nominate a candidate and relevance of the submitted documentation to the requirements of legislation. SOME OTHER OFFICIAL AUTHORITIES explained to the LMOPE OSCE/BDIHR that previously the notion “term” meant an exact number of years and, for previous the presidency terms was seven years, and this time it will be five years, and therefore, these terms may not be considered as two consecutive terms”.
The report did not contain the names of these official authorities, who gave such interesting explanations, and the representatives of the mission refused to disclose their names. But it is derived from the aforesaid that they bluntly agreed the number of Presidential service terms with their duration (but his is not envisaged in the legislation of Uzbekistan, see above).
Thus, justification by “unknown official persons” – is only an unsuccessful attempt to extricate them in the embarrassing situation. Therefore, one should not bother asking a question to them as to why these authorities did not announce such explanations publicly to the entire Uzbek nation.
Another similar “explanation” appeared during the election campaign. According to a news release from RIA Novosty service, “the Constitutional Court authorities explained that the existing Constitution came to force in 1992 and its terms and conditions cannot be applied to the elections of the President held in December 1991”. This is still funny: does it turn out that the entire first term that Islam Karimov served President was illegal?
The OSCE/BDIHR noted that article 90 of the Constitution of Uzbekistan prohibits one and the same person be elected President for more than two consecutive terms without any exceptions and provisions. The report by BDIHR of OSCE said: “Islam Karimov is practically running for his fourth Presidential term”.
In the rest of the thing the election campaign process continued as usual save the security of Islam Karimov, driven to the extremity.
During his speeches in front of the thoroughly selected “activists”, other potential electors were kept approximately a kilometre away. The concern of the Uzbek President about his life security is so serious that all roads that lead to the locations, where he was to make his speeches on his program in any town, were blocked by buses and trucks and all traffic was sent to bypass the location. It is very difficult to imagine the days in 1990’s when he freely met with common people and drove in the streets of Tashkent with little security.
There is no sense in describing the voting process: however or whatever way the elector may have voted – actively or passively, with or without any violations of rules and regulations – it’s up to the CEC to announce the final results. And it is headed by the nominee of the President, i.e., by the man candidate. Therefore, all information including elector appearance percentages does not have anything common with the reality.
The only thing the head of the Central Elections Commission needs is hoping that nothing extraordinary happens within the first two-three hours upon opening of the polling stations: this will allow him announce registration of voting over 33% of electors and consequently, THE ELECTIONS HAVE BEEN LEGALLY TAKEN PLACE. According to the Law “About elections of the President”, elections are qualified as taken place if no less that 33 per cent of electors, listed in the polling sheets participate in voting. The head of the CEC may not bother hurrying with the announcement about Islam Karimov having been given 90 or about per cent of votes. One may not check this information because independent observers are not allowed to attend final count of votes.
The illegal prohibition of exit-polls (traditional inquiry of citizens exiting the voting stations after their voting) by the government is also an evidence of the fact that the “Presidential elections” in Uzbekistan are nothing else but an undisguised swindling.
On March 27 2015, the press-secretary of the Central elections Commission Nizamutdin Nurmatov told the Uzbek newspaper “Novy vek”: “The Presidential elections will take place without exit—poll for exit polls are banned by the legislation of the country”. The TASS information agency cited the head of the CEC M. Abdusalomov: Exit-polls – inquiry of electors at exit from voting stations is not envisaged”.
In reality both Nurmatov and Abdusalomov are well aware that there exist no prohibition of exit-polls in the legislation: the Law “About elections of the President” only reads that “publication (making public) of the results of public opinion polls, prognoses of the results of elections or other studies, associated with the elections to be held is prohibited on the voting day”. But not the holding of the elections as they are. The CEC needed this gross lie to give nobody an opportunity undertaking exit poll, which consequently would dispute both the high number of voters and number of votes, allegedly given in favour of the existing President.
The same happened at the 2007 Presidential elections:
«Another specific detail on the elections a la Uzbekistani: lack of exit-polls, traditional inquiry of citizens exiting voting stations. […] The note made by the Chairman of the CEC M. Abdusalomov at the briefing on December 22 2014 when he announced that according to the legislation of the country, it is prohibited to undertake polls and publish their results on the day of voting is not a surprise. But here, by justifying the ban against exit-polls by referring to the Law “About elections of the President” the Chairman of the CEC made a voluntary or involuntary mistake. The Law by no means does not prohibit undertaking any inquiries, in other words, to find out in whose favour the electors have given their votes. It only contains a ban to publications of this information on the day of voting, but not to performing such polls”.
The polling stations opened at 6AM in the morning. The first announcement by the CEC said: “As at 10:00AM over 36.55% of electors out of 20 million 798 thousand 52 citizens, enlisted in the electors sheets. Thus, […] the elections of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan are qualified as having taken place” (That it now, Islam Karimov has won whatever may happen thereafter this).
It was natural that there was no need for a second round of voting. On the following day of March 30 2015, at a briefing for the press M. Abdusalomov announced that 90.39% of electors voted in favour of Islam Karimov. Akmal Saidov took the second place with 3.08%, while 2.92% votes were given in favour of Hatamjon Ketmonov and Nariman Umarov was the fourth in the list with 2.05% of votes.
According to M. Abdusalomov, 18 million 942 thousand citizens of 91.08% of the total number of electors participated at the elections. One an half per cent of ballot papers were disqualified.
In a week’s time on April 6 2015, at the final meeting of the CEC, M. Abdusalomov reported the same data, which did not even change for a single vote (only 349 people had been added to the number of total voted citizens) – with all the mess that ruled the polling stations. The 2007 elections saw exactly the same picture of events.
The results of elections by the CEC of Uzbekistan
The OSCE representatives aid attention to the failure to adhere to elementary rules. “During voting and vote counting process the election commissions ignored the legislation norms at most voting stations visited by the observers of LMOPE of OSCE/BDIHR. The observers indicated that all over the places some trusted the practice of voting on behalf of several electors” – reads the preliminary reports of the organisation.
It is clear that a thorough counting of votes would have shown different results that may have shown the results that don’t differ from the initial results too much, but still these would not agree for 100%. But this did not happen. In other words, the CEC simply did not count anything at all.
At the April 6 meeting Mirza-Ulugbek Abdusalomov announced that in accordance with Articles 90 (the one, which prohibits being President for the third time – AsiaTerra) and 117 of the Constitution of Uzbekistan and other articles of a number of other laws, the CEC rules to consider Islam Karimov having been elected President of the Republic of Uzbekistan. During the meeting, it was noted that the elections were held “in accordance with the Constitution of the republic of Uzbekistan”.
All four parties immediately acknowledged the results of the elections by declaring that the elections were open and transparent. And the former competitors congratulated Islam Karimov with his victory.
One may not bother doubting that the votes collected had not been even counted and the result, announced by the CEC was taken from the air of the sake of declaring pleasing comfortable numbers.
The only fact that Islam Karimov’s competitors had been given 2-3 per cent voted gives the evidence for falsification of voting results for they had been given less votes than initially at the registration stage – 5% each (collectively they would have been given 15% votes). Does this mean that those who supported the three candidates decided otherwise and went voting for another candidate? As a result, Messer’s. Ketmonov, Saidov and Umarov were collectively given 8.05% of votes (this is a definite success of President Karimov this time for in 2007 his other three competitors had even been given 8.96% votes). Nevertheless, save the LMOPE of OSCE/BDIHR, four of the five invited observer delegations – from CIS, SOC, World Association of Electoral Bodies and Islamic Cooperation Organisation did not pay any attention either to the strange distribution of votes nor to violation of the Constitution and other laws, and declared that the elections were held properly.
According to Sergey Lebedev, Chairman of the Executive Committee – Executive Secretary of CIS, the elections fully corresponded to the generally accepted international standards. “The elections were held in full conformance with the Constitution and other legislative documents of Uzbekistan. They ensured the rights of citizens for free outpouring of popular will” – RIA Novosty news agency cited him.
The following is the main conclusion of the Observers group from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation: “.. the measures facilitated within the election campaign were undertaken in accordance with the electoral legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan. … No violations of the electoral legislation have been noted”.
Only LMOPE of OSCE/BDIHR had a different opinion. Trying to avoid the final assessment (the main report was issued later), in their March 30 2015 preliminary report the mission noted the following number of points:
“Despite the presence of a clear limitation of the Presidential service terms, envisaged by Article 90 of the Constitution of the country, the CEC took a decision to register the existing President as a candidate for this position, and having done so the Commission prejudiced their own independence…”
“The possibility of being elected as an independent candidate was eliminated from the time of the previous Presidential elections”. “This amendment contradicts with the paragraph 7.5 of OSCE Copenhagen document from 1990 […]. This paragraph reads that the OSCE member-states must “respect the right of citizens to achieve political or social positions individually or as representatives of political parties or organisations without discrimination”. Paragraph 15 of the General Comment 25 of the Committee of UNO on Hyman rights (CHR UNO) to Article 25 of the International pat on civil and political rights […] also reads that “the right of people to be elected must not be unreasonably limited by any requirement to the candidates to be a member of a party as general, or member of any other specific parties”
“The only visible signs of the election campaign were the information billboards and several posters of the candidates”.
“According to the reports, all four candidates held ONE PERSONAL MEETING EACH in each of the 14 election districts, while their official representatives held up to 10 meetings in each election district. The LMOPE of OSCE/BDIHR attended 19 such meetings, held on behalf of Mr Ketmonov, Mr Saidov and Mr Umarov. Despite several applications, the LMOPE of OSCE/BDIHR was refused access to the meetings, held personally by the existing President, and the LMOPE attended six meetings, organised by his representatives”.
“LMOPE of OSCE/BDIHR could not meet with either of the candidates despite their multiple applications to meet”.
“At most of the polling stations, visited by the observers of the LMOPE of OSCE/BDIHR, the main norms of the legislation were neglected during the process of voting and counting of votes”
As opposed to the opinions of other delegations to the election, the LMOPE of OSCE/BDIHR report is neither mentioned nor cited anywhere in the Republic of Uzbekistan. It can be accessed at the site of the organisation (preliminary report), but this site is blocked in Uzbekistan.
On April 10 2015 Islam Karimov organised his following inauguration at a joint meeting of both houses of the Parliament of Uzbekistan. Standing in front of the members of parliament, government official, Central Elections Commission, Constitutional Court Judges and heads of diplomatic missions, and putting his hand on the Constitution and Quran, Mr Karimov took an oath for the umpteenth time “to strictly adhere to the Constitution and Laws of the country, guarantee the rights and freedoms of citizens”.
Islam Karimov is taking an oath. Photo by UzReport
The attendants loudly applauded – almost like in Stalin time or modern North Korean way. Most attendants applauded very sincerely being appointees of Karimov himself. Should he have to go – most of them will have to go either.
Then the newly elected President made a speech, where he gratified his compatriots for the trust granted to him and… called for not to fall in self-complacency and euphoria again.
Mirza-Ulugbek Abdusalomov handing over the President’s certificate to Islam Karimov. Photo by UzReport
Radio Azattyk (Kazakh service of Radio Freedom) reported that the state owned Mass Media published a written variation of the speech by Islam Karimov. However, in those moments, when Karimov deviated from the speech-writer’s text, he often sounded talking nonsense, which, according to Radio Azattyk, is an alarming signal.
Despite the fact that the duration of the current President’s service term, established in the Constitution is 5 years, Islam Karimov is going to keep this position for 8-10 months longer (the next elections are to be held in December 2020). Taking into account the 2 months and 10 days, envisaged before taking the office y the newly elected President, Islam Karimov’s fourth Presidential service term may end in the year 2021.