The sleeping giant of Central Asia

The future development of events in Uzbekistan represents the greatest intrigue in the life of our region. What will happen in this very significant country, which occupies a central position in perhaps the most strategically important region of the planet with a population of almost 30 million people and the economy of the old Soviet type, remains a mystery to all observers, including representatives of the Uzbek leadership itself.

Today, Uzbekistan may begin the most difficult period in its modern stories. The question of what to do is facing any states and their elites, but for Tashkent this question is particularly relevant. Because Uzbekistan is one of the few remaining countries in the world, where for the most part direct government regulation of the economy remains. This country has not gone through market reforms in their classic terms. This circumstance is simply a statement of fact, which can be treated differently. Someone believes that the Uzbek authorities were able to preserve the inheritance inherited from the Soviet Union and cite Uzbekistan as an example and a possible alternative for Kazakhstan and other post-Soviet countries. Others, on the contrary, believe that Uzbeks are following the path of Cuba and Turkmenistan, trying to conserve the former Soviet system of full control over the economy and society, and that this will not lead to anything good.

But, in any case, one thing is certain that Uzbekistan is not integrated into the world economic system, as the vast majority of the rest of the world. He lives by his own rules, which represent a bizarre mixture of the Soviet planned economy and the spontaneous market. In this regard, there are two questions. First, how effective can the Uzbek model be in the modern world? Secondly, how long can its existence continue in conditions of actual isolation from the world economic system? Answers to these questions are very difficult, but extremely important, because without them it is difficult to answer another question - what is the near future of Uzbekistan and how can it affect the future of Kazakhstan?

Moments in history

Uzbekistan, without any doubt, occupies a key place in Central Asia. It includes almost all the historical territories of this region, from Khorezm in the west to Fergana in the east, from Tashkent in the north to Termez in the south. All other Central Asian republics are located on the periphery of the former regional historical center. It is quite characteristic that in doing so they control important areas on the borders with Uzbekistan, which objectively limits its ability to dominate.

For example, to the south of Tashkent, deep in Uzbekistan, is the Maktaral district of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan occupies part of the Fergana Valley with the main city of Osh, Tajikistan has control over Khojent in the southern part of the Fergana Valley, and the territory of Turkmenistan extends into the valley in the lower Amudarya in the vicinity of Khorezm.

Such a territorial location was the result of the policy of the central Soviet government, which did not want to allow the emergence in then Central Asia of a single state association - Turkestan. This idea was actively supported by representatives of the elites of all the numerous national groups in the region, including even Iranian-speaking Tajiks. Among the authors of the idea and its active supporters was, in particular, the Kazakh Turar Ryskulov. But for Moscow the appearance of such a union was undesirable. The Russian Bolsheviks did not want the extra autonomy of the national regions; they supported the centralization of power in the country. At the same time, they always supported the idea of ​​national autonomy, so it was not easy for them to explain to national elites why they oppose the same unified Turkestan or the independence of Georgia.

As a result, a truly Solomonic decision was made. Many ethnic groups throughout the territory of the former USSR, from Belarusians to Khanty and Mansi, received their national-state associations at various levels, but all power was completely concentrated in the hands of the political center in Moscow. National autonomy turned out to be decorative, but, in fact, it could not have been otherwise, given the imperial nature of Soviet statehood.

In particular, in Central Asia, a number of national republics were formed along the periphery of its historical center. In fact, they were opposed to the new republic - Uzbekistan. This republic was formally in the place of Turkestan, but had to build its identity not on a common Turkic basis, as supporters of the Turkestan idea had planned, but on the Uzbek ethnic basis. Such a decision radically changed the situation in the region. Firstly, competition between the republics naturally began, and since all power was in Moscow, there was competition, including for its attention, which guaranteed access to resources, which was important with their centralized distribution. Secondly, the tasks of nation-building in Uzbekistan demanded a focus on the formation of the Uzbek nation.

The last task was very difficult. Because until 1917, there were quite a few ethnic groups with their identity in the territory of Uzbekistan. In addition to Uzbeks proper, to which they usually attributed those who could identify themselves on a tribal basis (Yusi, Mingy, Kungrad, Mangit), many other Turkic groups also historically lived in Central Asia, and this does not include representatives of three major nations - Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Turkmen. Among such groups were Locals and Karluks in Eastern Bukhara, Kurama in the Tashkent region, Kipchaks in the Fergana Valley, and many others. Pre-revolutionary censuses clearly demonstrated the entire palette of ethnic groups.

However, the most impressive part of the population were those who before the revolution were called Sarts. These were residents of the settled areas, some of them were Türkic-speaking, others were Iranian-speaking. Part of the Turkic-speaking people belonged to the fragments of various historical Turkic tribes, who had gone to early settlement and lost their tribal identity. The rest were Turkic descendants of the ancient Iranian-speaking population. In turn, the Iranian-language sarts were mainly preserved in the southern cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, although they were found throughout the territory of Central Asia. For the Sarts, despite their linguistic affiliation, there was a typical regional community in the place of residence in one or another oasis - Tashkent, Bukhara, etc.

In any case, the unification of all these groups as part of a single ethnos, which also occupied almost all the historically developed territories of Central Asia, including most of the shopping centers like Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva and others, made Uzbekistan the most important country in the region. Obviously, it was precisely national-state construction that played a huge role in this.
Actually, this circumstance was the reason for the special place of the Uzbek republic in the USSR. By the way, that’s why in 1980-s, Moscow dealt a crushing blow to the Uzbek elite, starting the so-called “cotton business”. Because the excessive independence of Tashkent and its potential as a regional center could become dangerous, especially against the background of the beginning of the processes of political liberalization in the USSR.

After the end of the acute phase of the cotton business, its architect, the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan, Rafik Nyshanov, was transferred to Moscow, and Islam Karimov took his place. It is characteristic that in the same period Saparmurad Niyazov became the first secretary of Turkmenistan. Both new leaders had such a distinctive feature as Russian wives. It is difficult to get rid of the impression that this was a matter of loyalty. In Moscow, they could consider that this is an additional factor that increases the loyalty of newly appointed local leaders to it.

In addition, Karimov was a native of Samarkand, evil tongues in general still say that he is half Tajik. Like it or not, the Samarkand elite could not but be bilingual, considering the large number of Tajiks living in this ancient city. Naturally, this circumstance somewhat weakened the position of immigrants from Samarkand in the structure of the Uzbek establishment and theoretically increased the degree of their dependence on Moscow.

Obviously one thing, the Soviet party leadership, after all the purges in Uzbekistan that affected representatives of the establishment close to the former long-time leader Sharaf Rashidov, eventually brought to power a representative of the peripheral elite from Samarkand. Among the victims of the purges were many so-called "Tashkent" and "Dzhizak". Their influence was weakened, so no one interfered with Karimov, in fact.

It is important to pay attention to another circumstance. Before his appointment, Karimov worked as the head of the Uzbek State Planning Committee (Gosplan). Consequently, he, no doubt, like any other planner, was an adherent of the planned economy and was inclined towards a strict order. This circumstance played a role in further events. During the 1991 coup of the year, Karimov supported the Emergency Committee, but after his defeat, he began building an independent state.

Immediately after the collapse of the USSR

At the same time, Karimov initially had an extremely difficult situation. As early as the end of the 1980s, problems with spontaneous Islamic movements began in Uzbekistan, especially in the Fergana Valley. Here, in Adamat, the movement “Adolat” is formed, one of the leaders of which was Tahir Yuldashev, among the activists was Dzhumaba Khodjaev, later known as Juma Namangani. They later created the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

Initially, the creator of "Adolat" was a small businessman Abdulhakim Sattimov, who created a voluntary people's squad (DND) to protect his business from the racket that was widespread at that time. However, then the security structure quickly acquired a religious character, then Yuldashev became its leader, and the DND came to be called “Police Militia”. “Adolat” took businessmen under protection, received money for it, in principle from his side it was the same racket, and very quickly became an influential force in Namangan. Then his activists began to establish Sharia law in the city, smash shops with alcohol, whip pickpockets on the market, etc., in fact created here a parallel power. "Adolatovtsy" also burned the local prosecutor's office with all the cases against them.

By 1991, Adolat effectively took control of Namangan. On December 19, the town hall was seized and a mass rally was organized. Trying to resolve the situation, Karimov himself came to the city, but he had to go through unpleasant moments when Islamists in the square dictated his conditions to him. Surely this was a turning point in the ideology of the Uzbek leader. For him, it became fundamentally important to solve the problem of the coming chaos.

After the collapse of the USSR, when Karimov embarks on building an independent state, the situation becomes even more tense. In neighboring Tajikistan, a sharp confrontation between local regions leads to civil war. In Afghanistan, the Najibullah regime collapses in May on 1992, and various groups of Mujahideen come to power.
The peculiarity of the situation for Tashkent was that, quite unexpectedly, in both Tajikistan and Afghanistan, politically very active communities of ethnic Uzbeks were formed. In Tajikistan, these were Uzbek field commanders, the most famous of which was half Uzbek, the owner of Tursunzade and the local aluminum plant, Mahmud Khudoyberdiyev. In Northern Afghanistan, the Uzbek general Abdul Rashid Dostum became the most influential. For Uzbekistan, this was a new situation, and the authorities of this state from the very beginning of their independent existence were involved in political processes in neighboring countries.

Despite the fact that the state-building processes in Uzbekistan have just begun, and Tashkent did not have the appropriate institutions to conduct an active foreign policy, especially as specific as it was in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. It was impossible to forget about the difficult domestic political situation with the Islamists.

In January, 1992 held a presidential election in Uzbekistan, after which the authorities gradually began to take control of the situation in the country. Criminal proceedings were instituted against the activists of “Adolat”, as a result, many of them fled to Tajikistan, where the civil war broke out, as well as to Afghanistan. Accordingly, Tashkent was faced with the task of influencing the development of events in these countries in order to neutralize possible activity on the part of the exiled Uzbek Islamists.

In Afghanistan, the Uzbek authorities established mutually beneficial cooperation with Dostum, as a result of which they could be sure that there were no problems with their security in the Afghan territories controlled by them. The situation in Tajikistan was more complicated, the simple support of the Uzbek commanders did not solve the problem together.

If in Afghanistan relations with Dostum provided security at the border, in Tajikistan it was not enough to rely only on local ethnic Uzbeks. More profitable for Tashkent was the appearance in Dushanbe of a responsible central government. The threat of instability throughout the former Soviet Union was too significant. Interest in resolving the Tajik issue was the basis of Uzbekistan’s agreements with Russia, and this despite the fact that the liberal authorities in Moscow were inclined to refuse altogether from the burdensome presence in the Central Asian region. Nevertheless, the problem was very real, and the parties agreed. In May, the 1992 of the year in Tashkent signed a collective security agreement.

15 September 1992 of the year by order of the Ministry of Defense of Uzbekistan was sent to Tajikistan 15-I brigade of special forces of the GRU, which from the Uzbek Termez on 28 helicopters Mi-8 was deployed in Kurgan-Tyube. This brigade was withdrawn from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan in 1989 year and located in Chirchik. The personnel structure was completely Russian, there were practically no local recruits here. The decision on its use could not be made without the consent of Moscow. At least, the officers, most likely, would prefer to go to Russia than to participate in the war for the interests they do not understand.

A very telling story of General Chubarov, who at that time served in the 15 Brigade, about how he was appointed Deputy Minister of Defense of Tajikistan. Chubarov wrote that he was summoned by the Minister of Defense of Uzbekistan Rustam Akhmedov, while Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev was present at the meeting. “I didn’t have time to open my mouth, as Grachev told Akhmedov. Rustam, this officer is my hope and support in the region. ” The use of 15 and then 16 of the GRU special forces brigade from Uzbekistan played a decisive role in the Tajik events.

It is characteristic that the Uzbek special forces were clearly not enough for the scale of the civil war, because in Tajikistan itself, in the units of the 201 motorized rifle division, only a few Russian officers remained in the ranks. In particular, in the 191 motorized rifle regiment in Kurgan-Tube there were 50 officers and warrant officers who guarded the warehouses with weapons on 2,5 thousand soldiers. Therefore, on September 28, two weeks after the transfer of special forces from Uzbekistan, two more fully equipped special forces battalions from the Moscow Military District were sent to Tajikistan.

After the end of the acute phase of the Tajik conflict, external threats to Uzbekistan faded into the background and in Tashkent focused on internal problems. Here the tasks were no less ambitious.

Transition economy?

At the time of the collapse of the USSR, Uzbekistan had a good economic potential. It is also important that at his disposal were very significant export opportunities. First, it is cotton (up to 75 percent of currency earnings in 1997), secondly, gas from the Gazli fields, and thirdly, gold from the Zeravshan mining and smelting plant. The production of the latter amounted to 63 tons in the 1992 year. It was in Uzbekistan and a very large population with well developed trading skills - 21 million people in 1991 year. Recall that all the historical shopping centers of Central Asia were part of Uzbekistan. And it is important that, for the most part, it was a homogeneous population, so liberalization theoretically could not threaten interethnic conflicts, as happened in Transcaucasia and Moldova. Although the example of neighboring Tajikistan, where in the civil war the Garmians and the Pamirians agreed, on the one hand, and on the other, the Kulabians, Gissarians, Uzbeks and Leninabadians, could not but cause concern among the Uzbek authorities.

In general, Uzbekistan had all the opportunities for real regional leadership. Moreover, after 1992, politically independent Uzbek territories in Northern Afghanistan, as well as a number of field commanders in Tajikistan, the same Hudaiberdiyev from Tursunzade, depended on him. It already looked like a small regional empire with great potential. When all the other states in the region were engaged in solving domestic problems, Uzbekistan was the only one of all who immediately went to the regional level. With good relations with Russia, it was Uzbekistan that looked like the successor to the former USSR in the region.

And now, in this difficult situation, a subjective factor has affected - the role of the individual in history. President Karimov, being a native of the Soviet Gosplan, clearly did not believe in a market economy, he was wary of the risks associated with it. In addition, faced with the threat of the Islamists and watching from the side all the negative processes that took place in Tajikistan, he probably came to the conclusion that it is necessary to establish a strong power in the country in order to prevent chaos in the Tajik scenario.
Each separately, these ideas were quite natural for the situation of the beginning of the 1990-s, when the Soviet model of government collapsed. On the one hand, strong power, on the other - the preservation of the Soviet industrial potential. This idea would be signed by the majority of the population of the former USSR. But combined both ideas turned out to be an explosive mixture. Because Karimov decided not only to curtail the processes of political liberalization begun in the former USSR, but also to abandon economic liberalization.

In the end, many countries in the former USSR, soon after its collapse, moved away from liberal projects. In Kazakhstan, this happened in the middle of 1990's, in Russia at the beginning of 2000-x, in Tajikistan central authority dominated for quite a long time, even in Ukraine they refused to hand over power to parliament, which was one of the gains of the 2005 Orange Revolution of the year. But the liberalization of the economy, with all the problems associated with this process, was carried out in all these countries.
Today they are often called authoritarian, with the possible exception of Ukraine, they define at the same time different degrees of their rigidity, but Uzbekistan, also Turkmenistan, stands out from the general number by the unreformedness of its economy, the preservation of the old Soviet principles of total management of the economy and society. But rather, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan can be called Bonapartist states, where a strong centralized power exists along with some important market institutions, such as private property.

This is a very important circumstance, because private property allows many in society to maintain personal independence from the state, even if they do not like its political course. What can not be said about states like Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, where dependence on the state is still great, because it controls almost all aspects of society, as it did in the former USSR.

So Karimov’s subjective decision turned out to be crucial for the development of Uzbekistan. It must be admitted that the results achieved by Tashkent against the general sad background of the collapse of the Soviet economy were, at first, quite impressive. For example, in 1997, Uzbekistan’s GDP in relation to 1990 amounted to 90 percent, whereas in Russia - 59, and in Kazakhstan 62 percent, and industrial output in relation to the same to 1990 in Uzbekistan - 112,7 percent. , in Russia - 51, in Georgia - 23 percent. And this is despite the fact that approximately for the same period of time in Uzbekistan in a number of industries there was a serious decline in production. For example, the production of mineral fertilizers fell from 1,7 mln. Tons to 0,9 mln. Tons, cement - from 6,9 mln. To 3,5 mln. Tons, production of machine tools decreased 10 times, chemical fibers and threads - from 49,3 to 6,9 thousand tons. Note that all this happened against the background of general growth in industrial production.

Naturally, at the end of the 1990 in the former USSR, Uzbekistan looked like an island of prosperity. It was he who was cited as an example of successful development by various intellectuals in both Russia and Kazakhstan. But we can not say about the price of the issue.
From the point of view of the planned economy, the Uzbek authorities tried to solve the most complex issues. Among the most important was food and fuel independence to get rid of imports. For example, in the early 1990-s from 700 million to 1 billion dollars were spent only on food imports, mainly grain. The reduction in imports made it possible to free the currency derived from the export of Uzbek goods for other important projects, mainly in industry.

In Uzbekistan, expanded the area of ​​crops for food grain. At the same time, the exploitation of many small oil fields, which were not developed in the USSR due to the unprofitability of the process, began. As a result, oil production increased from 2,8 million tons in 1991 to 7,6 million tons in 1995 year. Gas fields in Gazli allowed the country to provide energy. So Tashkent at the beginning of the 1990-s had little need for import supplies.

In addition, the lack of free currency conversion seriously restricted the import of consumer goods, which was typical of all countries undergoing market reforms. The absence of a free market did not allow small and medium-sized trading businesses that are focused on the services market to arise and strengthen. It should also be noted that the state retained a monopoly on the main export commodity - cotton. The main means of extracting the state profit was the purchase price. Cotton could be sold only to the state and at very low prices. At the same time, farmers were paid with local money - soums, and then sold to the world market for hard currency. In 1996, government procurement prices for raw cotton were at 26,6 percent. below the cost of production. There is evidence that the state in Uzbekistan bought a kilogram of cotton from dehkans for two cents. Margin for the state was enormous.

As a result of all these processes (reduction of oil and grain imports, trade monopoly on cotton), the Uzbek authorities have at their disposal very significant funds in hard currency. According to the logic of a planned economy, the funds were directed to the industrial modernization of the country. For example, already in the middle of 1990's, the Bukhara Refinery was built from scratch. But the most important project in Tashkent was a car, which was quite logical. Because it was impossible to establish the production of aircraft based on an aircraft factory in Tashkent. Cars, on the other hand, were the most common method for Asian countries to become industrialized. It was not by chance that a sample from South Korea was chosen for the Uzbek car, which, after Japan, was the second to achieve an economic recovery, including on the basis of the automotive industry.

However, the Uzbek automotive industry had its own characteristics. The most important thing is the very scheme of their production. For hard currency, Uzbeks bought ready-made vehicle kits in South Korea, then collected them and sold them mostly in the domestic market. The difficulty here was that, first, the vehicle sets had to be driven from Korea through the whole of Russia and Kazakhstan, which in itself contributed to higher production costs, and second, the lack of currency convertibility made it difficult to assess the economic efficiency of automobile production. The last circumstance was very important.

The cars themselves were in demand in Uzbekistan due to prohibitive duties on car imports. In addition, the general dissatisfaction with consumer demand in the country made the machines extremely in demand in the domestic market. However, it turned out that the state cheaply bought cotton from the peasants, sold it for currency, bought vehicle sets for this currency, made cars of them and sold it to people for non-convertible bags. Then it again had to buy car kits for the currency that the automobile plant could buy for the proceeds domestically at the preferential exchange rate. But the state itself could receive the currency for sale to the plant again only from the sale of cotton or gold.

In fact, it was the same import, but designed through the concept of the automotive industry. Thus, the state directed resources to meet only a certain part of domestic demand. In the normal situation of a market society, the demand would have a completely different structure. But the most important thing is that in the conditions of the market, the cost of production of cars in Uzbekistan would be clear and what is the added value of this production.

For example, at the end of the XIX century in Afghanistan, Emir Abdurakhman established the production of European artillery guns. However, the cost of their production was three to four times the price at which they could be bought on the market. Everything would be fine, after all, production, but the emir received funds for it from the country's internal incomes.

It is very significant how the production of cars in Uzbekistan depended on foreign economic conditions. In 1997, 64,9 thousand cars were assembled, in 1998 - 54,4 thousand, in 1999 - 58,3 thousand, and in 2000 - only 31,3 thousand. Recall that the Asian crisis begins in 1997, it applies to Russia, prices for oil and other raw materials fall to a minimum. Then gold was worth less than 1998 dollars per ounce, and oil only 300 – 10 dollars per barrel. Uzbekistan did not have much of its oil, but the general state of the global economy also led to a fall in cotton prices. Naturally, the currency at the disposal of Tashkent has become less, including for the production of cars, which automatically affected the volumes of their production.

After the well-known tragic events of 11 September 2001, Uzbekistan began to focus on the United States. One of the consequences of this step in the field of economics was his attempt to carry out a partial currency conversion in 2002. The Americans put pressure on Tashkent on this issue. However, nothing came of this attempt, and the process was curtailed, different exchange rates remained in the country, and access to conversion for private companies was still very difficult.
It is possible that the main reason for refusing to introduce a free currency conversion regime was that Tashkent could not cope with the sharply increased demand for it. The huge unsatisfied demand of the population and the private sector threatened leaching of foreign exchange reserves. The markets of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan acted almost like a pump, pulling currency out of Uzbekistan, which was not enough anyway.

The classical situation of the late USSR times was repeated. The introduction of free currency conversion in a non-market economy and the presence of unsatisfied demand, which is fueled by a large accumulated and at the same time unsecured money supply, leads to the leaching of currency. This puts the state in front of difficult choices, either to liberalize prices and accept shock therapy, or, within the framework of the current model, to find sources of currency for actual financing of consumer demand. But the latter option would mean a reduction in foreign currency expenditures on production projects, in particular, on the same automotive industry.

At the same time, Tashkent could not agree with shock therapy, which would mean losing control over economic processes, facing discontent among the population. In addition, the presence of neighbors who have undergone market reforms in the vicinity of Uzbekistan meant that businessmen from these countries would inevitably play a large role in the newly opened Uzbek markets. Firstly, due to accumulated experience, and secondly, due to the availability of free monetary resources.

Therefore, Uzbekistan did not have much choice, and the policy of free currency conversion was curtailed by it. The unsuccessful attempt to liberalize the currency exchange clearly demonstrated a shocking thing for the Uzbek elite. After the collapse of the USSR, the historical territories belonging to Uzbekistan lost the status of the economic center of the region. Because for such a status it is very important to dominate the regional trade markets, which historically has been characteristic of merchants from Bukhara, Samarkand, Khiva and Tashkent. Now, all these urban centers were unable to compete in trade with the former peripheral territories of Central Asia. Because they are in a state of artificial isolation from the generally accepted standards on which the world trading system operates. Relatively freely convertible currency is one such obvious standard.

But the most important consequence of the course chosen by Tashkent at the beginning of the 1990-ies was the transfer of the financial and economic center of the Central Asian region from its old cities to the steppes of modern Kazakhstan. It was a real revolution, for the first time in the last two or three thousand years, such a center turned out to be outside the region’s historical core. The main cash flows and the associated main routes for the movement of goods now pass by Uzbekistan and its trading cities with a glorious history.

After refusing to liberalize exchange rates, the state of affairs was very uncertain. However, in the 2005 year, there were regular shocks that changed the external economic situation for Tashkent. Due to the negative perception in the West of the well-known tragic events in Andijan, Tashkent has changed the vector of its foreign policy orientation from the United States to Russia.

To a certain extent, Andijan-2005 contributed to enhancing the conservation of the Uzbek socio-economic model. Because these events clearly demonstrated to the country's authorities that the discontent of a group of local entrepreneurs (in Andijan it was the so-called “Akromiya” group of local businessmen, whose representatives started a revolt after the arrest of a number of their representatives) is quite capable of developing into an open rebellion against the authorities. Therefore, it was logical to conclude from here that it is necessary to strengthen control over the business too. Naturally, no economic liberalization, the result of which would be the inevitable emergence of a stratum of prosperous entrepreneurs, was never spoken after Uzbekistan in Andijan.

At that very moment Tashkent was frankly lucky. From the middle of the two thousandth, the external economic conjuncture gradually changed in favor of Uzbekistan. Cotton prices increased, and some Uzbek gas (about 8 billion cubic meters) began to be supplied to the Russian gas pipeline system, which provided an additional inflow of currency to the country. Even at the preferential price at which Uzbek gas was supplied to Gazprom (up to 100 dollars per thousand cubic meters), Tashkent still received significant amounts of foreign currency (up to 700 million dollars a year). In addition, Uzbek cars could be supplied to the Russian market, which gave the entire automobile production scheme an additional currency basis. That is, some of the cars were sold in Russia for currency, which removed the load from the Uzbek state. Less was needed currency for the purchase of vehicle sets from the company General Motors, the successor of the Uzbek Daewoo.

But the most important thing is that the economic boom in Russia and partly in Kazakhstan contributed to the outflow of much of the extra labor force from Uzbekistan. In this country, and so high rates of population growth, about 500 thousand people a year, the Soviet-type economy is not able to create so many new jobs. Usually in countries with market economies, small-scale and medium-sized businesses provide significant employment, especially in the market for services. It is the market of services that also forms a significant share of GDP (up to 50 percent). Therefore, in fact, Uzbekistan has such a low GDP in comparison with Kazakhstan or Russia. In the first quarter of 2012, it amounted to 6,1 billion dollars at the real exchange rate. This is 24 billion on an annualized basis, or about 800 dollars per capita. For example, in Kazakhstan on the basis of 2012, the nominal GDP will be 200 billion dollars with a smaller population.
The departure of the population to earn money, on the one hand, allowed them to take on extra workers, on the other hand, ensured the inflow of currency into the country through the transfer of Uzbek guest workers to their families. For example, in the first half of 2012, 2,1 billion dollars was sent from Russia to Uzbekistan.

However, in the middle of 2012, Uzbekistan once again made a sharp turn in its foreign policy, he left the CSTO, which spoiled relations with Russia. In this situation, it is very important for Tashkent to smooth out the negative effect of this step. Because sending him guest workers to Russia today is of critical importance to him. If Moscow suddenly introduces a visa regime or puts pressure on a couple of millions of Uzbek citizens in Russia to return home, this will have dire consequences for Tashkent. We must not forget also about the transit of goods, which passes through Russian territory.

Of course, the fact that cotton prices before the start of 2012 have been very high lately has helped the Uzbek authorities lately. According to the forecast, in 2012, the average annual price will fall by 2011 percent compared to 40 in the year. According to the 2013 year forecast, the price will be 0,7 dollars per pound (1,5 dollars per kilogram). When exporting 2,6 million tons of cotton (75 percent of the production in 3,5 million tons), this will provide the Uzbek state to 4 billion dollars in revenue. Approximately another 3 billion dollars at current prices are worth annual 60 tons of gold from Zerafshan. There are also gas supplies to China.

So, the Uzbek economy has some reserves that allow keeping the system unchanged, including producing cars. In January-May, 2012 of the year Uzbekistan sold only 32 thousand cars on the Russian market. In September, he announced the release of the model "Chevrolet Cobalt." Under the plan, 60 thousand cars from 120 thousand will be sold in the CIS, that is, mainly in Russia. Exports can partially solve the problem of currency for the purchase of vehicle kits, as well as partial localization, but still the state has to finance automobile production at the expense of foreign exchange earnings mainly from cotton exports.

It is also worth noting that the main problems of the economy of Uzbekistan are now connected with the failure of plans to achieve oil and food independence. Especially great difficulties with the production of oil. From 7,6 mln. Tons in 1995, its production in 2011 fell to 1,5 mln. Tons. This is directly related to the fact that Uzbek oil workers developed many small oil fields, which were declared unprofitable in the years of the USSR. The only large Kokdumalak field in 1990-ies suffered from watering and depletion of reserves.

The problem here is that if you buy oil at current world prices, then to cover the deficit of 6 million tons from the level of 1990's, you need to spend about 4 billion dollars. That is all the proceeds from cotton. But over the past ten years, the number of cars in Uzbekistan has greatly increased, so 7 million tons is probably not enough for domestic consumption. Thus, although the state of affairs does not look particularly critical, Tashkent is in principle capable of maintaining the current state, but on the whole its situation resembles that of the former USSR. As long as central authorities can control everything in the country, they will be able to control consumer demand and, therefore, direct resources, including the implementation of industrial projects. But, as well as for the late USSR, it is critically important for modern Uzbekistan to receive volumes of currency. So, there is no reason to believe that the authorities in Tashkent will abandon their common state monopoly, on cotton, on foreign trade and everything else.

The problem may arise in the event that a sudden fall in foreign exchange earnings from external sources. This is unlikely, but it is possible in a situation if cotton prices suddenly fall and oil and grain grows, if all the migrant workers return to the country at one moment and Uzbekistan suddenly finds itself in a transport blockade for some reason. But that would be an incredible development.

In the end, Uzbekistan can always help the same World Bank or the IMF. The current foreign policy of Tashkent gives reason to think so. In general, it is interesting that the change of orientation by the Uzbeks from Russia to the USA may also have an economic background. First, Uzbeks can make money by withdrawing troops from Afghanistan before the 2014 year. If they leave in their territory the military equipment of the troops of the international coalition, and these are tens of thousands of units, then the payment for this will certainly be very substantial. Secondly, Tashkent will continue to earn money on supplies to Afghanistan of electricity, food, on the implementation of various projects, such as the construction of the Termez-Mazar-i-Sharif railway. Third, Uzbekistan may, in the future, in the case of the implementation of the American program “New Silk Road”, expect to open a transport route to the south, to the ports of the Arabian Sea. Theoretically, for him it is the shortest way to foreign markets.

Of course, the Uzbek model looks like an anachronism of our time, but the local elite has no other way. They have missed the time for market reforms and now must continue what they have begun - to build state capitalism with a strong centralization of power.

Great maneuvers

If from an economic point of view, everything is approximately understandable, especially with regard to the price situation for cotton and gold, oil and grain, then from a political point of view, everything is much more complicated.

Coming out of the CSTO this summer, Tashkent not only mixed the main foreign policy maps in our region, but also seriously changed the emphasis in its domestic policy. The point here is that the previous course of predominant orientation towards Russia also assumed that its opinion should be taken into account in the event of a change of government in Uzbekistan.

In the last year, several signals came to the outside world from Uzbekistan, which indicated that in this country some serious changes were taking place in the ruling elite. Obviously, it is worth paying attention to changes in the system of organization of power in 2010. Now the parliament will approve the head of government.

Usually in the eastern states with a centralized vertical of power, such changes occur at a time when the authorities intend to go for partial liberalization either under public pressure or in connection with plans to reform from above. But in Uzbekistan there can be no talk of any kind of public pressure, and no one is going to carry out reforms from above. Otherwise, it would be more logical to start with economic reforms, and not with a change in the political configuration.

From this we can conclude that the changes are connected with the arisen need to settle relations among the elites. This is very similar not to the situation in China. Local Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has raised the issue of the need for liberalization several times in recent years. For him and his supporters, the point was that after the change of power that happens this fall, they would thus be able to maintain their positions in power. Because after the arrival of the new man in the place of the head of the PRC, Hu Jintao, with all his full power, their position will inevitably deteriorate. Carrying out partial liberalization will, firstly, weaken the vertical of power, it will cease to be dangerous for elite groups, and secondly, it opens up broad opportunities for such groups to influence the situation in the country with the help of accumulated resources.

Therefore, it can be assumed that the Uzbek idea of ​​separating the government and parliament can also be linked to the idea of ​​ensuring the balance of the forces of local clans. But this may be necessary only in the event of a quick change of power and a desire to avoid a subsequent struggle for individual power between the clans.

It is difficult to say how true this assumption is. But some movements in power in Uzbekistan are clearly taking place. What is worth only the adoption of the law on the inviolability of the results of the privatization. Why took it right now.

If we agree that such a development of events may take place, then we can try to explain some moments in the recent Uzbek politics.
For example, why do we need such a tough conflict with Tajikistan. The Uzbek position on the construction of a hydropower plant in Rogun is quite understandable, because in the case of its hypothetically probable destruction, water may demolish all villages downstream. In addition, Tajiks will pass water in the winter to generate electricity, while Uzbekistan needs it in summer during irrigation. All this, of course, makes Tashkent nervous. But the conflict is still very tough, with loud statements from both sides.

Moreover, the Uzbeks cannot change the situation. Even leaving the CSTO does not untie their hands, does not allow simply to block the supply of goods for Tajikistan. Because in this case, Russia, which, in fact, is building Rogun, in turn, will block the delivery of goods to Uzbekistan and may even introduce a visa regime. The threat of war should also not be taken seriously. By and large, Tashkent in the current situation is not able to influence the construction of hydroelectric power plants upstream of the main rivers of Central Asia.

Then why might such rhetoric be needed? The meaning here may lie precisely in domestic policy. People in power who are close to Karimov are called “Samarkands”. It has already been mentioned above that many consider the Uzbek president himself to be half Tajik. Undoubtedly, suspicions of Tajik origin or sympathy for the neighbors can be a powerful argument in the political struggle directed against the people of Karimov - people from Samarkand.

In this situation, the harsh rhetoric of Tashkent, and therefore the “Samarkands,” in relation to Tajikistan, is likely to emphasize their special commitment to the interests of Uzbekistan. And since this conflict cannot escalate, for example, into a real war, it will end sooner or later. You cannot maintain a degree of tension for too long. Consequently, he is needed right now, which may be another indirect evidence of the approaching moment of the beginning of the struggle of the Uzbek clans for power.

The withdrawal from the CSTO in this context is also very symbolic. Because an orientation toward Russia would mean the need to take into account its opinion on the issue of a possible change of power. And here the subtlety of the situation lies in the fact that Moscow has its clear favorites in the Uzbek political issue. Such an undoubted favorite is the Russian oligarch Alisher Usmonov, whose father was the prosecutor of Tashkent in Soviet times.

Usmonov is a particularly confidant of the Kremlin. In addition to participating in sensitive business issues, in particular with Gazprom, he is also the owner of an influential publishing company Kommersant. The latter circumstance distinguishes him from a number of Russian businessmen, because not everyone can be trusted with Kommersant. In Russia, there is another oligarch of Uzbek origin, Iskandar Makhmudov, but its importance is not so great. Usmonov more powerful figure. At the very end of September of this year, he announced that he was transferring all of his assets into a separate holding and was being removed from business. There is a lot of talk in Russia that this may be related to the state of his health, but maybe he has just other plans. In any case, the Uzbek oligarchs in Russia have not only money, but also vast capitalist experience. In addition, they are loyal to Moscow.

In this situation, it would be illogical for Russia to not use their potential to participate in the future of Uzbekistan. It is possible that such plans existed. If this is true, then “Samarkands” would have to make room, for example, in favor of “Tashkentites” or someone else. Probably, this did not suit Karimov and his people.

Another change in the foreign policy of Tashkent means that the current Uzbek authorities do not want to look back on Moscow, including in the hypothetically possible issue of a change of government.

What will happen with the Uzbek state further, we cannot know, but one thing is clear, the sleeping giant of Central Asia can wake up once. If market reforms begin in Uzbekistan, the state will no longer control its large population in the Soviet spirit. If Russia introduces visa restrictions for Uzbek guest workers, they will return home and will look for new employment options. In all these cases, Kazakhstan will face a large number of migrants, legal and not so much. This can change the picture in our country.

In general, it is beneficial for us to maintain the status quo of our southern neighbors. But the danger of the situation lies in the fact that it is impossible to preserve Soviet-style state capitalism indefinitely in one particular country. Karimov is doing well, but no one can say today what his successors will do.
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