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Uzbekistan

Yearbook 1999

Uzbekistan. According to Countryaah official website, five radical Muslims were sentenced in January to multi-year prison sentences accused of trying to overthrow the government and establish an Islamic state. According to an Uzbek human rights organization, the charges were invented.

1999 Uzbekistan

In February, at least 15 people were killed and about 130 were wounded in a series of bomb attacks in the capital Tashkent, apparently directed at the regime and President Islam Karimov. Six men were later sentenced to death and fourteen to long prison terms, all accused of being behind the death. Several of the convicted were alleged to have tried to assassinate the president.

Militant Islamists fought during the late summer and autumn against the army in southern Kyrgyzstan, near the border with Uzbekistan. The Uzbekistan regime claimed that it was an ethnic Uzbek from the banned opposition party of the Uzbek Islamic Islamic movement, which wanted to infiltrate the rich and Muslim radical Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan. The foreign ministers from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan held a crisis meeting, and the four former Soviet republics then conducted military exercises together with Russian troops to train actions against Muslim guerrillas.

Uzbekistan, which previously pursued a Western-friendly policy, approached both China and the Russian Federation during the year. In November, President Karimov visited Beijing and held talks on increased economic cooperation but also on a joint fight against terrorism. In December, Uzbekistan was visited by Russian Federation Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Putin and Karimov agreed that the two countries would strengthen military cooperation, and Karimov expressed his support for the Russian war in Chechnya. He, on the other hand, criticized the OSCE for being too busy with human rights and too little with the security problems Central Asia and the Caucasus are facing. At the same time, the suspected leader of the banned Islamic group Hezb ut-Tahrir was arrested. In particular, unemployment has caused many young people in Uzbekistan to turn to the radical group, demanding an Islamic state. Hundreds of supporters of Hezb ut-Tahrir were arrested earlier this year.

The opposition said the regime used, and partly also staged, assaults during the year to be able to strike against the opposition and imprison its representatives before the parliamentary elections in early December. The OSCE, which did not consider that the country's electoral laws could give free and fair elections, did not send any official observer group to the election. Five government-friendly parties were running, while the country's main opposition parties were banned and their leaders were in exile. Parliament has no real power; it is in the hands of the president.

In December, the authorities publicly burned more than two tonnes of drugs seized during the year. Uzbekistan has a growing problem with smuggling from Afghanistan, but also with increased domestic production of drugs.

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