Russian Foreign Minister’s statements about the Andizhan events show lack of reliable information. In Smolensk, it is the information sent by Karimov that is used. The situation must be analyzed as a whole. In the context of that clan struggle, Americans try to find an ally in the opposition, and, if possible, among moderate Islamist leaders. Presidential elections will be held in 2007 and the Andizhan case is a signal that Karimov is sending to the Americans to indicate them that whatever they are attempting will fail. Government structures have proved their loyalty. The government needs to revive the Islamist threat. After having violently (with blood) suppressed the Taleban and terrorist revolt, the government can present Karimov as the only “civilized leader” in the country.
I was able to talk with a political prisoner who had escaped the Andizhan jail. He said to me that it had been the penitentiary administration itself which had set them free. Assault rifles were waiting for them just outside. The Hizb ut Tariq’s role is hard to define, even if the president accuses the group, which owns properties in London, of having caused all the attacks in the country. I don’t defend the caliphate, but I don’t think that all of its followers have to be incarcerated, and even less when they declare themselves against violence.
We made an inquiry about the Andizhan events with Memorial and other organizations. We got the names of 316 deaths. The names of 630 airplane evacuated victims are unknown. According to some researchers, the number of dead people could mount to 1500. I used to think that Russia did not have a policy concerning the CIS countries and during the Ukraine elections I could see that this is not like that. Russia can still come through well in Uzbekistan. Historically and economically, the Uzbek people has always turned to Russia. The U.S. has made evident its interests in the Middle East, because of their internal problems, particularly in terms of energy. The current regime is not eternal and I’m not giving it more than two years of life if the Americans really try to replace it. Russia cannot ignore this, otherwise it would risk losing Uzbekistan.

Novyie Izvestia (Russian Federation)

Россия может потерять Узбекистан “, by Barkhom Khamkhoiev, Novyie Izvestia, June 7, 2005. Text adapted from an interview.