Tuesday 21 December 2004

The Inevitability of Change in Uzbekistan

My colleague, David Lewis, and I wrote this piece for the Financial Times on 21 December 2004. Sadly, the situation hasn't improved in the last six years, particularly after the Andijan massacre of May 2005, in which the Uzbek regime lashed out at an uprising in the eastern city, killing some 700 civilian protesters.


On December 26, the world will watch the crowning moments of Ukraine's "Orange Revolution", as the country returns to the polls and, almost certainly, elects the opposition candidate who forced a rerun of the vote amid popular protest over massive electoral fraud. On the same day, another former Soviet republic will hold an election, but few abroad will watch it, and little inside the country will change because of it. If Ukraine's electoral process has been orange, Uzbekistan's will be a lemon.

Wednesday 1 December 2004

The Ceausescu Career Path?

Back in 2004, my Crisis Group colleague, David Lewis, and I looked at what might happen when the self-assumed immortal "Turkmenbashi" finally met his inevitable end. This piece appeared in Transition Online on 1 December 2004.


If you look up “cult of personality” in the dictionary, you might find a picture of Turkmenistan's president, Saparmurat Niazov. And wherever you look inside Turkmenistan, you'll see the same image.

It is not a simple matter of the ubiquitous public murals of your average dictator: Niazov has a golden statue of himself in the capital, Ashgabat, that moves with the sun. On state television, Niazov's portrait revolves continuously on the corner of the screen. His nationalistic, quasi-spiritual tome, the Ruhnama, not only forms the basis for much TV programming but also dominates Turkmenistan's education curriculum. He's renamed the months of the year, with the month of January now replaced by his self-adopted name, “Turkmenbashi” or “father of all Turkmen.”