Uzbekistan is ruled by an authoritarian
regime with President Shavkat Mirzijoev in the lead. His
self-appointed government is dominated by the Liberal
Democratic Party, which is one of the country's five
allowed and regime-loyal parties. When Mirzayev
succeeded Islam Karimov at his death in 2016, there were
hopes for political reform. Some of them have been
freed, and dozens of political prisoners have been
released. But much is also the same since Karimov's time
When President Islam Karimov died in 2016, Uzbekistan
was faced with an uncertain future. Karimov had then
ruled Uzbekistan almost single-handedly since
independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The regime
had almost complete control of society through its
security service. Regime critics were persecuted,
imprisoned, tortured and exiled.
Country facts and history of Uzbekistan, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
Contrary to the Constitution, in March 2015, Karimov
had been re-elected as President a fourth time (the
Constitution allows only one re-election). The election
was criticized by independent election observers from,
for example, the OSCE.
When Karimov suddenly passed away on September 2,
2016 in the suites of a brain haemorrhage, Uzbekistan
was without an obvious leader. Many feared that fierce
power struggles would break out, but already after a few
days Prime Minister Shavkat Mirzijoev emerged as
Uzbekistan's new strong man. He was appointed acting
president, even though the Constitution says the Senate
President will replace the president if he dies.
In December 2016, when Mirzijojev was elected as
ordinary president, it was done in the same form as in
previous presidential elections. Some loyal
counter-candidates had to stand in line for sight, after
which Mirzijoev won a superior victory. Election
observers from the OSCE criticized both electoral fraud
and unfair conditions, in which the candidate of the
power unit unilaterally favored the electoral movement.
During Mirzijoev's first year in power came signs
that the social climate was softening. More than 30
political prisoners have been released, the uz cups have
been allowed to travel abroad without special
permission, and attempts have been made to abolish the
widespread forced labor in the cotton fields. Of the
17,000 people Karimov listed as suspected Islamic
extremists, 16,000 have been written off.
In January 2018, Mirzijoev dismissed the head of the
dreaded security service, which has been criticized for
human rights abuses and violations. However, Mirzijojev
gave the Security Chief a new assignment as a member of
Parliament's upper house. This allowed him to enjoy
prosecution immunity. A restructuring of the security
service was initiated. In August 2019, Mirzijoev ordered
the infamous Jaslyk prison, called the Torture's House,
to be closed.
Basically, however, the regime's exercise of power
has not changed so much since Karimov's days. Human
rights organizations stress that thousands of people are
still imprisoned in Uzbekistan for political reasons.
The main objective of the regime is domestic political
stability, and it therefore fears rapid political and
economic reforms that can trigger social unrest. The
entire apparatus of power and society in general is
permeated with corruption. Many politicians have major
business interests, especially in the cotton industry.
Since the opposition is not allowed to take part in
elections, there is no clear gauge of the Uzbek
political sympathies and it is uncertain how much
popular support the regime has. Some uz cups see it as a
guarantor of political chaos like the neighboring
countries of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have lived
High unemployment combined with political repression
and mass arrests of Islamists appear to have increased
support for Muslim fundamentalism. The regime is
therefore trying to strengthen cooperation with the
country's moderate Muslims in the hope of reducing
support for radical Islamists.
Read about the events in the Calendar.
FACTS - POLITICS
O'zbekiston Republic / Uzbekistan
republic, unitary state
Head of State
President Shavkat Mirzijoev (2016–)
Head of government
Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov (2016–)
Most important parties with mandates in the
Liberal Democratic Party 53, Uzbekistan Democratic
Party for National Renewal 36, Social Democratic Justice
Party 24, People's Democratic Party 22, Uzbekistan's
Ecological Party 15 (2019-2020)
Main parties with mandates in the second most
Liberal Democratic Party 52, Uzbekistan Democratic
Party for National Renewal 36, People's Democratic Party
27, Social Democratic Justice Party 20 (2014–2015)
88% in the 2016 presidential election, 71% in the
first round of parliamentary elections in December 2019,
62.8% in the second round of the parliamentary elections
in January 2020
presidential elections 2021, parliamentary elections
Prison for MR activist
Human rights activist Muchtabar Tojibajeva, who has criticized the
authorities' way of shutting down riots in Andizan, is sentenced to eight years
in prison for "economic crime".
Prison for Opposites
Sanjar Umarov and Nadira Chidojatova from the opposition party My sunny
Uzbekistan is sentenced to eleven years in prison (later reduced to eight years)
for "economic crime". Assessors believe that they are rather punished for their
criticism of the shooting deaths in Andijan. Both are pardoned later.
Uzbekistan joins Eurasec
Uzbekistan becomes a member of the Eurasian Economic Community (Eurasec),
which already includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Belarus.