Interview with Bakhodir Khan Turkiston, leader of “Birdamlik” (Solidarity) People’s Democratic Movement of Uzbekistan
– Dear Bakhodir Khan Turkiston, to be honest, your political views totally differ from most politicians’ political view. You stay loyal to your own political position throughout any political process. With your unusual views, you are able to upend the thoughts of seasoned and famous politicians. For example, while being a Muslim by origin, you expressed support for Donald Trump during US Presidential pre-election processes, despite his anti-Muslim thoughts. Views such as this stunned most Muslims. You continued believing that Donald Trump would win the U.S. presidency even in the face of overwhelming belief that Hillary Clinton would win. Because of your views, many people accused you of political immaturity. But everyone knows the results: your candidate won. We are not using this example to raise your popularity, Rather, this, once again, demonstrates your long-term prediction abilities to all of your supporters and detractors.
Another example of your predictive abilities was your “different way” views on Gulnara Karimova’s case. The Karimova case is obviously the focus of the world community and Uzbekistani people. It seems that more and more people are beginning to suspect that Ms. Karimova may be guilty. It is also well known that Ms. Karimova’s father, the president, turned your own life upside down. Despite all of this, you have recently defend Ms. Karimova. Can you tell me the reason why you have shifted your position to defend the president’s elder daughter?
– I don’t know how other people think, but I leave the case alone for a while before I express my thoughts about anything. I have an individual approach to anything: I don’t just think of today, or even tomorrow, but of the day after, and I repeatedly question myself to find a reasonable answer before I make my views public. I always try to see the day after tomorrow, act towards the day after tomorrow. Our long-term thinking strategy is giving positive results in reality. In other words, thinking ahead towards tomorrow ensures our tactical advantage and thinking ahead of the day after tomorrow ensures our strategical advantage. We owe our progress in the political world to thinking and planning this way. I pay more attention to forward thinking strategic and tactic methods, and implement them without any fear. Therefore, our political views and thoughts remain unchanged. This shows that our approach to any political action is serious and principled. Personally, I do not act in accordance with popular thought, in other words, I swim against the current.
– On your Facebook page you posted that “If Gulnara hadn’t been jailed, she would ruin the existing regime, and bribe-taker authorities would be unmasked and put into prison”. Can you explain your view in a bit detail, please?
– It is not a secret that former president Islam Karimov’s policies led the country to a total crisis. He had always suppressed the people’s discontent with his extreme strictness that always served his own interests. Opposition people and free thinking people could not be active and became idle because of heavy pressure and pursuit. The fact that no one Karimov fired from their government positions and sent to prison for their political and religious views ever tried to found an opposition organization, join active opposition organizations, become a candidate for presidency, proves our views. During his lifetime, Dictator Karimov could never tolerate any government man with political ambitions and never found peace until he ruined such people. He cancelled political studies programs and closed political science programs in all Uzbekistani higher educational institutions. All political experts lost their jobs. He even approached his daughter, Gulnara Karimova, and warned her, “do whatever you like, but do not interfere in politics and never think of becoming president.” We know from history that dictators held their thrones above all else, even from their children. We also know that several dictators were removed from their thrones by their own children. For example, Qatar’s Amir Muhammad al Tiniy, who had conservative views and was putting up barriers to economic progress, was removed from his throne in 1995 by his son Hamad al Tiniy, who had studied in England and was a supporter of liberal economy. Under Hamad’s rule Qatar developed very fast and to-date became one of the countries in the world with richest population. Therefore, we defend all Uzbekistani people and groups that support the idea of establishing secular and democratic systems, prefer a non-violence fighting method, and oppose the unjust and violent Karimov dictatorship. Unfortunately, for all these years, only Gulnara Karimova’s group fell into our criteria.
In Uzbekistan, it is well known that the dictator and his people have endless opportunities to obtain wealth. As an example, imagine that If we take them all as black as an example, please, imagine only one white spot amongst all this black color! Becoming white among blacks is some state that does not fit the high elite of the society of Uzbekistan. In Uzbekistan, it is a great opportunity to be the family of President; being the president’s daughter is an especially great opportunity. In business, many people and groups want to have close cooperation with the President’s daughter. By using these opportunities, Gulnara Karimova, and others, kept multiplying her wealth. Of course, we are not a court authority, and only a court can give a legal assessment of Gulnara Karimova’s wealth. We have always been interested in Gulnara Karimova’s political ambitions and purposes since she expressed her political views against the regime, while being the closest person in the government for 26 years.
In reality, Gulnara Karimova is a lady with liberal views. She studied in the USA. She is a manager and she understands democratic values and the free market economy well. She had realized the failings of her father’s politics, and thought of taking the country the right path. In this situation and environment, Gulnara Karimova’s growing ambitions met serious counteractions from Islam Karimov and the National Security Service (NSS). Gulnara’s main purpose was to become the president and unseat her father. As a spoilt daughter of her father, by her own will and wish, she started fighting the existing regime. During the initial years, Gulnara’s political actions were successful; nobody could stop her in her political activities. She could demonstrate her strong organizational capabilities, her ability to lead the youth, and other abilities. This made the supporters of the regime, especially the NSS leaders, think seriously. Thus, NSS chose to fight Gulnara Karimova and started planting moles in her organization. These agents never stopped searching for a way to blackmail Gulnara. They also arranged various ways to defame her, such as alleging that Gulnara was stealing assets from businessmen, sending Uzbekistani girls to United Arab Emirates for prostitution, spending all of her time in nightclubs, and so on. We had heard such accusations and slander before her imprisonment. These accusations raise a fair question: was Lola, Gulnara’s younger sister, so innocent? Why aren’t there any accusations about her? As a younger daughter she had already announced that she wouldn’t to be her father’s heir. Therefore, neither her father nor special services interfered with her affairs or caused trouble in her business.
Now, I will quote an article blaming Gulnara Karimova by Firdavs Abdukholiqov, who was close to Gulnara and ran joint activities with her for many years,
“Within a short time, the social actions, held in provinces became very popular. For implementation of the proposals and ideas, proposed at the notorious events of ‘Fund Forum’ was not possible within Fund forum, a number of non-governmental and non-commercial organizations were founded. We implemented the idea of development of youth journalism in cooperation with non-governmental television. For all our activities were under her personal control, the association members, personally I expressed my gratitude to her several times.
“In addition, we run a lot of propaganda of her activities. We broadcast interviews of local and foreign politicians, representatives of business and culture – all this inspired us too much. Many local and foreign mass media also broadcast news about the ‘great charity events’ and their success, and where representatives of cinema and variety shows told their emotional impressions. In other words, most of those, who were participating at the charity events, held all over the country really trusted the sincerity of the events.
“Starting from 2000, the news that was spreading in world mass media, about victorious steps of Gulnara, about her illegal business activities was frequently subjected to pursuit. In a certain time, hidden acts in the shadow of business stopped surprising anybody.
“And in order to clean herself and blame those unknown forces, who were pursuing her both in the country and abroad, who were putting barriers to her charity acts in the country, Gulnara started arranging frequent press-conferences.”
“It should be noted that in those days, some people gathered around her, who wanted to implement their ill plans. Actions of various groups to improve their influence were noted by foreign press and government authorities”. (http://sof.uz/news/show/10455-firdavs-abduxoliqov-gulnora-karimova-haq).
By writing his article in a sense against Gulnara, knowledgeably or not, Firdavs Abdukholiqov disclosed himself as cooperating with NSS. This demonstrates that NSS had planted their moles in Gulnara’s surroundings, and they were intent on destroying her by blackmailing and defaming her. We believe that NSS management and Gulnara’s mother, Tatyana, managed these deeds. In short, had Gulnara Karimova had a little more time, it is certain that there would have been a colour revolution in Uzbekistan and this dictator regime would have been ended.
– Bakhodir Khan Turkiston, your thoughts on your Facebook account that, “If we had sufficient funds, we would have achieved extradition of Gulnara Karimova to the USA or European Union and require a fair court case by adhering to human rights,” was another unexpected idea. Do you think that this time, when the government has changed, have we witnessed another unjust court case in our country? Because her doings were for the first time proven officially by the Chief Prosecutor’s office of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Please, give us a little bit more detailed comment on your thoughts.
– To be honest, Uzbekistan has no just court system. Any process of investigations and court hearings, any rulings and decisions made have been under NSS’ control from day one. If a court case deals with a person to be pursued, though the accused is partially dangerous to the regime, irrespective of his guilt or innocence, this person is imprisoned. These things are done to defame the person. If the accused does not confess to the accusation, then investigations are carried under torture to result in confessions and a verdict. In the Uzbekistani court system, there have been several reported cases where people were killed during the investigation process. These incidents were done in conjunction with dictator Islam Karimov and Chairman of NSS, Rustam Inoyatov. Court cases of lesser-known people, who the President did not necessarily have to know about, were run according to scenarios developed by the Chairman of NSS and the Heads of the region and district NSS departments. Investigations were run with tortures and violence, while judges legalised the resolutions with “criminal liability” and “punishments” written by NSS officers. And instead of stopping NSS officers’ interference, the prosecution officer cooperated with them. Thus, any case was adapted to the will and wishes of the people on top. Any protests were suppressed, and the unjust regime was illegally protected within the law. In conjunction with local governors and internal affairs officers, the Prosecution officers illegally imprisoned, scared, and tortured successful businessman to take large bribes from them. It is not beyond reason to believe that the earnings of Uzbekistan Prosecutions system from corrupt and illegal means equals dozens of billions of US dollars. So, can anybody expect any fair priority of law from so corrupted organization? Personally, I was also chased by fabricated accusations prepared by the prosecution officers. My life was ruined by these very people.
I think, sooner or later Gulnara and her case will be reviewed somewhere outside Uzbekistan, she will be brought to court again, and she will be acquitted. If the court decides that the most of the funds she owns had been obtained illegally, the court would return the funds to the country when some political changes are undertaken and a corruption-free government comes to power. If part of the funds are classified as legally obtained, they leave the funds with her. And Gulnara can influence Uzbekistan with the money she is allowed to keep.
Let’s look at Gulnara Karimova’s political activities. She grew up and was educated on Western culture and world vision. She is not a flutterer; she is honest and easily trusts people. She does not have a background in communism. She supports democratic values and secular ruling, and she fully understands the global free economy. When the time comes, it should be noted that president Shavkat Mirziyoyev is a former communist, a career government employee, a man who does not understand free economy at all (he even does not know the soviet planned economy), simply, a man who gives orders. He is a manager who is in a frame with his soviet knowledge and soviet management system. I think he was formed by the soviet system and that he will not be able to leave this frame. To do this, he has to study abroad for at least 5-10 years, and return as a professional in a field of industry. Only then, can he break soviet system frame and run independent activities on the basis of his knowledge and experience. On the other hand, he is a marionette leader under NSS Chairman, Rustam Inoyatov, and the deceased dictator’s widow, Tatyana Karimova. In other words, before he was in a smaller frame, now he is in a much larger frame. In addition, NSS’ management are loyal to the Kremlin. Therefore, it nothing but a fantasy or utopia to expect serious political and economic reforms from Shavkat Mirziyoyev. He is active, but his actions and attempts will not be successful.
On the contrary, Gulnara Karimova did not have any frames or outside control. To be exact, neither NSS, nor her father could control her. Therefore, she was impossible to put into a “ready-made frame”. She went forward in her activities by firmly standing on her position, and due to her very “stubborn” actions she was imprisoned. Gulnara is a free and free thinking lady. Of course, supported by western liberalism and democratic values, Gulnara Karimova would perform political reforms in Uzbekistan. It wasn’t without reason that earlier on I mentioned removal of Muhammad al Taniy, former emir of Qatar, by his son Hamad asl Taniy, and then under the new leader Qatar performed comprehensive reforms in all industries of economy to become a world’s strongest economy, making its population rich. Like former Qatar emir Muhammad al Taniy, our former president was against reforms in our country. Had NSS not acted against Gulnara’s activities, deceased dictator Karimov would have been removed from the throne and Gulnara would have become the new president of Uzbekistan. But she wouldn’t follow her father’s path, and would have performed reforms in all sectors of Uzbekistan’s economy. Once the reforms started, Uzbek opposition would have an opportunity to return to their motherland and participate in the political process, allowing the full extent of the reforms to run in Uzbekistan. In such a situation, we would have had great opportunities in front of us.
– Mr Bakhodir Khan Turkiston, today a lot is being said about the funds identified as belonging to Gulnara. Some propose sending this money to the country, while some others think that these funds should not be returned to a corrupted Uzbekistan. What do you think?
– There are many calls for the current government to return the youth, who have studied abroad and are working there so that they can contribute to the progress of our country. Today, minimum wage rate in Uzbekistan is 149775 Soums (17.5 US dollars), while average wage rate is 177 US dollars. If we take that a government officer’s salary is approximately 400 US dollars, on average, would a family of four agree to live for 100 US dollar per capita. Is that much money sufficient while the prices in Uzbekistan are nearing the prices in the USA? Of course, not. We can say that today’s government officers’ expenses equal approximately 10,000 US dollars. Taking into account 400 US dollars salary of a government officer, the officer’s get the remaining 9600 US dollars from bribery and corruption. The Uzbekistani professionals, whose return to Uzbekistan is asked for, on average get 4000 US dollars per month in the USA, and accordingly their monthly expenses equal 3000 USD. So, the will only return to Uzbekistan if they are offered a monthly salary of 4000 US dollars. Any reform requires the youth to work duly, knowledge and endeavour. Based on this, the government has to motivate them materially, otherwise the youth will get involved in corruption.
A color revolution is the most peaceful, successful, and non-violent ways of reforming dictator regimes. While abolishing a dictatorship is a task, there is another serious objective of ruling the country after a dictatorship: eliminating corruption. In our second guide, we, Birdamlik People’s democratic Movement, stress the necessity in establishing a motivation fund of about 1 billion US dollars for material stimulation of young professionals and government officers so that they do not get involved in corruption and for them to become private owners.
I think, Gulnara founded the individual fund for improving material provision of the country’s youth. The new leader, who has just stepped into the office, would have to have 1-2 billion US dollars-worth of funds for material stimulation of the youth before they achieve any success in reforms that they have initiated. Otherwise, youth the cannot be maintained by mere speeches and promises. We think, that If the US courts issue a resolution to return the Gulnara’s funds to Uzbekistan, these funds should be returned to Uzbekistan after the Birdamlik People’s Democratic Movement comes to power as a result of a non-violent method. The Birdamlik People’s Democratic Movement has been fighting to start real democratic reforms and to form and develop a free market economy in Uzbekistan. We will establish an individual fund to be spent for improving the lives of the youth, who will then get involved in in reforms in various sectors of economy.
– What do think are the accumulation of meanings on the base of disclosure of Gulnara Karimova’s deeds, though a little bit late, of course?
– I think Western countries have been firm in their demand that the Uzbekistani government fairly address Gulnara Karimova’s case. Therefore, the government of Uzbekistan had to demonstrate “a just court system” in Uzbekistan. There is some deciet on the basis of Uzbekistan government to say that, “We have run fair investigations and court process, and she was given a deserved punishment.” I think, that smart people know very well that this is another attempt by the government of Uzbekistan to cheat the world community.