"I’m going for a swim," says Pelle Bendz, a 52-year-old Swede, as he rummages in the jeep for his bathing trunks. The other tourists look at him, bewildered. What’s left of the Aral Sea is reputed to be a toxic stew, contaminated by pesticides and other chemicals.
Two of the most despotic leaders in the world sit atop the governments of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, according to rights groups. But in sharp contrast to the way they regard their respective peoples, Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and Uzbekistan’s Islam Karimov seem to treat each other with courtesy and respect when they get together.
Giving in to sustained international pressure, authoritarian Uzbekistan is opening up its cotton fields to international monitors this fall.
For months, state-run media propaganda in Uzbekistan has warned about the supposedly detrimental effects of foreign media and culture on young people.
Uzbek leader Islam Karimov has taken cosmetic steps lately, such as voicing support for probing journalism, to try to put a more human face on his regime. But the true nature of the Uzbek government can be discerned in a treason case against a former military intelligence official.
Early on Mar. 15, a 58-year-old man put on his tracksuit and left home in Qurghonteppa, a 90-minute drive south of Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capital. Morning exercise was a regular part of his routine, says Amnesty International.
Central Asian states do not face an “imminent” threat posed by Islamic militants, but they need U.S. assistance to help defend against potential dangers, according to top U.S. diplomats.
Uzbekistan has introduced sweeping new banking and import regulations that appear designed to keep hard currency from leaving the country.
Newly released documents appear to make a connection between executives from a Swedish company accused of bribing its way into Uzbekistan’s telecoms market and Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of the country’s strongman, Islam Karimov.
Mahfuza, a mother of three in a small town in the Ferghana Valley, has better things to do than spend her afternoons at crowded, smoke-filled Internet clubs. But as a high-school algebra teacher, she has an extracurricular assignment from her bosses: she must monitor the clubs’ clientele – many of them her students – while they play computer games, surf social networking websites, and watch music videos.
Uzbekistan is facing a public health time bomb, experts are warning. Authorities contend they are making gains in the battle to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS, but independent specialists say such claims are built on twisted figures and deceptive methodology.
This summer, a 32-year-old musician with Uzbek citizenship was visiting her mother in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. For the last decade, the musician has lived in the Tajik capital Dushanbe with her husband, an ethnic Uzbek, and their 10-year-old daughter.
During the day, when Uzbek border guards patrol its streets, Mingdon is a sleepy Ferghana Valley town. But after night falls, Mingdon, a hamlet of 10,000 on Uzbekistan’s frontier with Kyrgyzstan, turns into a smugglers’ paradise.
The recent travails in Uzbekistan of Russian cellphone giant MTS – hit by employee arrests and a three-month suspension – highlight the perils for foreigners of doing business in Central Asia’s most populous country.