CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

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January 2024

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Tashkent upgraded diplomatic relations with Beijing. 

President Mirziyoyev 23-25 Jan visited China amid efforts to deepen bilateral ties and secure investment. Mirziyoyev 24 Jan met with China’s leader Xi Jinping in capital Beijing, during which pair announced they have upgraded diplomatic ties from “comprehensive strategic partnership” to “all-weather comprehensive strategic partnership”, meaning deeper cooperation and mutual support in regional and international affairs. Sides also agreed to work closely on range of infrastructure projects, including China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway.

December 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Jailing of lead activist raised concerns over media freedom.

Following 1 Dec sentencing of popular blogger from Ferghana region to eight years in prison for “insulting” and “slandering” public officials, NGO Human Rights Watch 5 Dec warned decision “will have a chilling effect on free speech and media freedoms in Uzbekistan”; statement added that “respect for freedom of speech and media freedoms has taken a negative turn and these rights are increasingly coming under attack”.

November 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

France’s president sought to boost ties with Uzbekistan, and FMs from Central Asian countries attended G7 online meeting.

Macron sought to bolster cooperation. President Macron 1-2 Nov visited Uzbekistan following trip to Kazakhstan (see Kazakhstan) amid efforts to strengthen ties. Sides reportedly discussed projects in agriculture and uranium, while Macron 2 Nov said countries would develop strategic partnership; Mirziyoyev praised “historic” visit and confirmed leaders had “agreed to advance bilateral relations to the level of a strategic partnership”. In interview broadcast 12 Nov, Russian FM Lavrov accused west of trying to “push” Moscow out of Central Asia. French newspaper La Tribune 26 Nov reported Macron pitched replacing Tashkent’s Russian-made fighter planes with French jets during meeting.

G7 hosted Central Asian FMs for virtual meeting. During 7-8 Nov G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Japan, FMs from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan 8 Nov attended virtual session amid efforts by G7 to strengthen engagement with Central Asia. G7 promised to “support the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Central Asian countries” and to strengthen cooperation on “regional challenges”, such as impact of war in Ukraine, water security and climate change.

October 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

President Mirziyoyev held talks with China’s Xi Jinping.

President Mirziyoyev 17 Oct held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping during Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Chinese capital Beijing; sides vowed to continue bolstering ties, with notable focus on economic cooperation. Meanwhile, Mirziyoyev 13 Oct attended Commonwealth of Independent States summit in Kyrgyzstan – regional intergovernmental organisation comprising former Soviet republics (see Kyrgyzstan).

September 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

U.S. president met with Central Asian leaders amid growing engagement in region.

Central Asian leaders pledged greater regional cooperation. Tajikistan 14-15 Sept hosted leaders of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in capital Dushanbe, as well as Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev who attended as “honoured guest”. Leaders discussed ways to promote trade, tackle insecurity and better manage energy resources amid water shortages across region.

U.S. president held summit with Central Asian leaders in New York. U.S. President Joe Biden 19 September met with Central Asian leaders on sidelines of 78th UN General Assembly in New York amid stepped-up efforts to bolster ties in region. Biden hailed “historic” meeting and pledged greater cooperation in number of areas, including security, trade and investment, and regional connectivity. NGO Human Rights Watch day prior issued statement noting “renewed focus” on region following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and warning Biden not to “allow this to eclipse urgent human rights concerns”.

August 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Court sentenced police officers for abuses during Karakalpakstan unrest, and U.S. sought to strengthen development cooperation.

Court handed prison sentences to police officers over Karakalpakstan unrest. Supreme Court 5 Aug announced that court in Kogon city had sentenced two police officers to seven years in prison for torture during crackdown on July 2022 protests in autonomous Karakalpakstan region; third officer handed three-year prison sentence for failing to prevent crime.

In another important development. U.S. development agency officials 26-30 Aug visited country “to advance the U.S.-Uzbekistan development partnership”.

July 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

President Mirzioyev won landslide victory in snap election observers said “lacked genuine competition”.

President Mirziyoev 9 July won re-election in snap poll, securing over 87% of ballots in vote that saw almost 80% turnout. Mirziyoev ran against three largely unknown candidates, prompting criticism from observers. Notably, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights 10 July released statement saying “election was technically well prepared but lacked genuine competition”. Poll followed number of constitutional amendments introduced by Mirziyoyev that, among other things, reset his presidential term count and extend term from five to seven years. NGO Human Rights Watch 7 July said election formed part of “a choreographed plan to consolidate power” and that govt had “gone into reverse with its reform agenda”.

June 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Legal proceedings over Karakalpakstan unrest continued; EU and Central Asian leaders sought to strengthen regional cooperation.

Supreme Court upheld lengthy prison term for Karakalpak activist. Supreme Court 6 June rejected leading Karakalpak activist’s appeal of 16-year prison sentence for role in July 2022 protests in autonomous Karakalpak region, during which 21 people were killed. Court gave 14 other defendants reduced sentences or suspended prison terms.

High-level EU-Central Asia meeting took place in Kyrgyzstan. Following China-Central Asia summit late May, European Council President Charles Michel 2 June gathered with Kazakh, Kyrgz, Tajik and Uzbek leaders, alongside representative from Turkmenistan, in Kyrgz town of Cholpon-Ata for high-level meeting. In joint press communiqué, leaders reaffirmed importance of deepening ties and used opportunity to express “continued commitment to uphold the UN Charter, particularly the principles of respect for the independence, sovereignty [and] territorial integrity of all countries”; they also discussed climate change, emphasising need to continue dialogue on “open water-energy cooperation in Central Asia”.

May 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Snap election announced after Uzbeks voted overwhelmingly in favour of constitutional reforms; China sought closer ties with Central Asian countries during “milestone” summit.

President announced snap election following constitutional referendum. Central Election Commission 1 May announced that 30 April referendum on President Mirziyoev’s proposed constitutional amendments had passed with over 90% of voters approving reforms. In 1 May statement, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said referendum “was technically well prepared and widely promoted as intending to enhance various rights and freedoms” but took place “in an environment short of genuine political pluralism and competition”. Mirziyoev 8 May announced snap election in July, which he is widely expected to win, saying he requires new mandate to implement reforms.

Central Asian leaders attended China summit following Russia trip. Leaders from all five Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – 9 May travelled to Russian capital Moscow for Russia’s Victory Day parade, which marks Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. Chinese President Xi Jinping 18-19 May hosted Central Asian leaders in north-western Xian city for “milestone” China-Central Asia Summit. In sign of Beijing’s growing influence in region, Xi unveiled ambitious development plan that includes building infrastructure, boosting trade and strengthening security networks.

April 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Uzbeks voted on proposed constitutional amendments.

After lawmakers mid-March backed referendum on constitutional amendments proposed by President Mirziyoev, which among other things would allow him to seek third term in office and extend presidential term from five to seven years, Uzbeks 30 April began voting, amid expectations referendum will endorse proposals.

March 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Lawmakers voted in favour of April referendum on new constitution; prosecutors handed down lengthy sentences to 39 Karakalpak activists.

Lawmakers backed referendum on constitutional amendments. Months after President Mirziyoyev first proposed constitutional amendments that, among other things, allow him to seek third term in office, lawmakers 10 March overwhelmingly backed proposed amendments and voted in favour of referendum, provisionally set for 30 April; Senate 15 March approved bill and confirmed date of referendum.

Authorities handed down more sentences to Karakalpak activists. Court in Bukhara city 17 March sentenced 39 Karakalpak activists to between five and 11 years in prison for their participation in July 2022 protests in autonomous Karakalpakstan region, which broke out in response to govt’s proposed constitutional amendment that would have ended region’s right to seek independence.

February 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Legal proceedings over Karakalpakstan unrest continued, and U.S. sought to deepen engagement in region.

More trials following Karakalpakstan unrest took place. After authorities late Jan charged 22 Karakalpak activists with instigating deadly violence in autonomous Karakalpakstan region in July 2022, authorities 6 Feb announced that one had died while in custody; in following days, exiled activists raised concerns about prison conditions and demanded an investigation. Bukhara city regional court 6 Feb opened trial for 39 more activists for similar charges of inciting unrest in Karakalpakstan. General Prosecutor’s Office 9 Feb announced arrest of three police officers amid investigation into police misconduct during protests.

U.S. pledged deeper engagement in region. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 28 Feb held talks with FMs from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, amid U.S. efforts to deepen engagement in region; Blinken announced $25mn of new funding to support economic growth.

January 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

President finalised border delimitation agreement with Kyrgyz counterpart; prosecutors handed down lengthy prison term for Karakalpak activist.

Uzbek and Kyrgyz leaders completed border delimitation process. During two-day trip to Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, President Mirziyoev and Kyrgyz counterpart Sadyr Japarov 27 Jan signed over 20 documents aimed at strengthening bilateral relations. Most notably, leaders finalised border delimitation agreement, which Japarov hailed as “truly historic event”.

Court sentenced Karakalpak activists to between three and 16 years in prison. During trial of 22 people charged with instigating deadly violence in autonomous Karakalpakstan region in July 2022, prosecutors 11 Jan called for 20 defendants to receive sentences of between five and 18 years. Bukhara city regional court 31 Jan sentenced lawyer and journalist Dauletmurat Tajimuratov to 16 years in prison. Court sentenced 15 others to prison terms of between three and eight and a half years, released five and handed one a suspended prison sentence.

December 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Authorities stressed that Russian proposal for “gas union” with Kazakhstan contains no “political conditions”.

Following Russian proposal late Nov to form “gas union” with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, aimed at facilitating shipments between three countries, speculation grew around Moscow’s political objectives amid its ongoing war in Ukraine. Energy Minister Jorabek Mirzamahmudov 7 Dec sought to ease fears, saying any agreement to import gas is “a commercial, sales contract. We will never agree to political conditions in exchange for gas”. Russia’s govt 9 Dec emphasised that “there are no political conditions here” and that Russia’s only consideration in proposing union is “the commercial interests of the three countries”.

November 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Authorities signed agreements with Kyrgyzstan on border delimitation; trial against Karakalpak activists began.

Uzbek and Kyrgyz authorities signed border delimitation deal. FM Vladimir Norov and Kyrgyz counterpart Jeenbek Kulubaev 2 Nov signed agreements on border delimitation in Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, including deal on joint management of Kempir-Abad water reservoir, vital water source that lies between Andijan region and Kyrgyzstan’s Osh region, and flashpoint for domestic Kyrgyz opposition (see Kyrgyzstan). Kyrgyz lawmakers 17 Nov ratified deal giving Uzbekistan ownership of reservoir in return for 19,000 hectares of land elsewhere along border; Uzbek Senate following day approved agreement. Both countries’ presidents must give final approval before deal is authorised.

Karakalpak activists arrested during July protests went on trial. Bukhara provincial court 28 Nov began hearings in trial of 22 people charged with inciting deadly July protests in autonomous Karakalpakstan region against proposed constitutional amendments. Meanwhile, ombudsman’s office 1 Nov announced release of 35 activists arrested during July protests; 516 people were arrested at time, of which 107 have been released.

October 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Authorities neared deal with Kyrgyzstan on definitive border delimitation.

Following breakthrough deal in March 2021 with Kyrgyzstan to resolve longstanding border disputes, both sides drew closer to agreement on definitive delimitation of shared border. However, frustration mounted in Kyrgyzstan among border communities over govt’s decision to hand ownership of Kempir-Abad reservoir, vital water source that lies between Andijan region and Kyrgyzstan’s Osh region, to Uzbekistan in return for land (see Kyrgyzstan).

September 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Amid Russia’s annexation of occupied territories in Ukraine, govt released statement on respecting “sovereignty” and “territorial integrity; Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit held.

Authorities pledged respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity amid Russia’s annexation plans. In response to developments in Ukraine, notably Russia’s annexation of four occupied territories (see Ukraine), foreign ministry 30 Sept reiterated position that “Uzbekistan is invariably committed in the implementation of its foreign policy to national interests, fundamental principles, including openness, equality, respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-interference in the internal affairs of other states” and called for “resolving the current situation through political and diplomatic means in accordance with the norms of international law”.

Govt hosted Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit. Uzbekistan 15-16 Sept hosted leaders from 13 countries for SCO summit in Samarkand city with “agenda to strengthen security, trade and innovative cooperation”. Attendees included SCO members China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia and Tajikistan; presidents of Belarus, Iran and Mongolia attended as observers, while those from Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Türkiye attended as invited partners. Türkiye’s participation in summit as only NATO member, along with President Erdoğan’s expressed interest 15 Sept in joining SCO, further strained ties between Ankara and western partners.

August 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Calm prevailed in Karakalpakstan as President Mirziyoyev appointed new leader to head region following July’s deadly protests. Following deadly protests early July in autonomous Karakalpakstan region in response to govt’s proposed constitutional amendments, govt 1 Aug closed public consultation period on proposed amendments; commission said parliamentary committee will review feedback and amend accordingly before referendum on constitution is held. President Mirziyoyev 26 Aug appointed Amanbai Orynbaev to lead Karakalpakstan, accusing region’s previous leadership of “failure to find solutions to individual socio-economic problems”, which he said were “at root of the events of two months ago”; predecessor Murat Kamalov same day stepped down, citing health issues. Military participated in U.S.-sponsored military exercise, Regional Cooperation 22, 10-20 Aug in Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe, alongside U.S., Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Pakistan (see Tajikistan).

July 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Protests erupted in autonomous Karakalpakstan region in response to govt’s proposed constitutional amendments, turning deadly as police clashed with demonstrators. Protests 1 July erupted in Karakalpakstan’s regional capital Nukus following President Mirziyoev’s proposed constitutional amendments that would have, among other things, ended region’s right to seek independence. Thousands took to streets in apparently peaceful demonstrations; however, violence quickly escalated as police clashed with protesters, prompting govt to suspend internet and phone services and 3 July to impose state of emergency, which was terminated 21 July. Mirziyoev 2 July visited Nukus and announced decision to reverse proposed amendments, ending protests. As of 26 July, internet services had not been restored. Prosecutor general 4 July said at least 18 were killed, over 200 injured and 516 more detained from 1-2 July. Human rights group Open Dialogue Foundation 20 July said 300 people remained behind bars and dozens were still missing. EU 4 July called for “open and independent investigation” and for govt to “guarantee human rights”; U.S. and UN 5 July echoed these statements, with U.S. calling for “peaceful resolution”. Mirziyoev 6 July said commission appointed to investigate unrest will include independent activists and other members of public. Authorities 5 July reported shelling near border with Afghanistan. Five missiles landed in city of Termez in Surxondaryo region, damaging buildings; no group claimed responsibility for attack. During international conference on Afghanistan hosted by Uzbekistan later in month, President Mirziyoev 26 July called on Taliban to “take decisive measures to prevent and counteract terrorism” and to “break off ties with all international terrorist organisations”. Meanwhile, Kyrgyzstan 20-21 July hosted President Mirziyoyev along with leaders of Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in Issyk-Kul Lake town of Cholpon-Ata to discuss economic and political cooperation in wake of Ukraine war, COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest and situation in Afghanistan. Summit marked first gathering of regional heads of state since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 Feb (see Ukraine) and ended with pledge to increase cooperation. Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, however, did not sign off on treaty committing countries to “friendship, good neighbourliness and cooperation”, citing domestic procedures.

June 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

President Mirziyoyev sought constitutional amendments that could allow him to seek third term. President Mirziyoyev 20 June proposed constitutional amendments that, among other things, could allow him to seek third term in office; current election laws stipulate two five-year term limits. Delegation from Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights 15 June released report that concluded presidential election held in Oct 2021 lacked competition and that significant procedural irregularities were observed. Kunz.uz media platform 1 June reported dramatic increase in price of bread, at times by up to 75%, in some stores in capital Tashkent and other regions since war in Ukraine (which has impacted global food supplies) began (see Ukraine).

May 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Uzbek troops killed three people along Kyrgyz-Uzbek border, while senior official urged greater engagement with Taliban govt in Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan 6 May said Uzbekistan’s troops opened fire previous day in western Jalal-Abad region near Ferghana Valley, injuring three alleged smugglers who later succumbed to wounds; Uzbekistan’s border service 6 May confirmed incident, said “border guards observed the smuggling of large quantities of goods” and were “forced to use weapons”. Acting FM Vladimir Vorov same day spoke on phone with Kyrgyz FM Jeenbek Kulubayev and stressed need to “avoid negative consequences in the border area” and “expand Kyrgyz-Uzbek cooperation”. In interview with U.S. broadcaster Voice of America published 4 May, Special Representative for Uzbek President on Afghanistan Ismatulla Irgashev called for greater engagement with Taliban, said new Afghan govt is “reality that must be accepted”, but insisted Uzbekistan will not formally recognise Taliban govt without international community. Meanwhile, U.S. ambassador to Uzbekistan spoke out against reports of police officers forcibly shaving young Muslim men, saying it violated individuals’ religious freedom. Ministry of defence 1 May denied report by Russia’s Sputnik news agency that it has violated Afghanistan’s airspace by flying drones over latter’s territory.

April 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Islamic State (ISIS) claimed first cross-border attack from Afghanistan, clashes at Kyrgyz border left two dead, and wheat shortages raised concerns over food security in coming months. Amid uptick in activity in Afghanistan since Taliban takeover last year (see Afghanistan), Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) 18 April said it fired ten rockets from Afghan town of Hairatan at military base located in Uzbek border town of Termez in first such assault of its kind; president’s spokesperson next day denied claims, claiming “situation is stable” and calling on citizens to disregard “provocations”. Kyrgyz Border Guard Service 5 April reported incident between Uzbek border guards and Kyrgyz nationals allegedly attempting to smuggle goods into Uzbek territory on horseback, which resulted in Uzbek guards fatally shooting two individuals. Kazakhstan, major global wheat supplier, 1 April imposed quotas on wheat exports from 15 April to 1 June due to supply disruptions following Russian invasion of Ukraine (see Ukraine); while quotas allow limited exports and Kazakhstan made public assurances it plans to continue regional supply, concerns mounted about potential impact on food security in coming months; Tashkent late March had announced plans to buy 100,000 tonnes of wheat from Kazakhstan between April and July to ensure domestic food security, with imports mainly from Kazakhstan making up about 35% of domestic wheat consumption. Meanwhile, govt 8 April delivered over 34 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Ukraine in further signal of support for country’s territorial integrity.

March 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Western sanctions on Russia following invasion of Ukraine affected remittances, as govt sought to strike neutral approach. Central Bank chief 17 March reported remittances from Russia “shrank significantly” in first half of March, compared with same period of 2021; last year, majority of remittances were sent from Russia. FM Abdulaziz Komilov 17 March said: “We do not recognize the Luhansk and Donetsk republics” and called on Ukraine and Russia to resolve conflict “by diplomatic means”. Foreign Ministry 18 March hosted meeting on Ukraine attended by EU and member states, UK, Japan and U.S.; govt reportedly expressed desire for neutral approach and diplomatic resolution to conflict. President Mirziyoyev and Russian President Putin 21 March held telephone conversion to discuss bilateral cooperation as well as Ukraine crisis. NGO Cotton Campaign 10 March announced end to campaign to boycott Uzbek cotton and textiles, citing progress in ending forced labour during crop harvesting last year.

January 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Authorities detained suspected members of proscribed group. Police in capital Tashkent 26 Jan announced detention of dozens of alleged members of Islamist group Katiba al-Tawhid wal-Jihad that authorities banned in 2016. Media reports 19 Jan revealed Uzbek and Russian security officers detained individual from Uzbekistan in Russia for attempting to join militants in Syria.

December 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Authorities engaged with Taliban and faced renewed scrutiny over country’s human rights situation. In sign of tentative engagement with Taliban, govt 17 Dec announced it had sent technicians to Afghanistan to help repair airport in Mazar-e Sharif city. Six U.S. senators 6 Dec urged U.S. Biden administration to press Tashkent to embark on reforms related to human rights, noting “Uzbekistan remains among the world’s most repressive countries”. Following inaugural meeting of Strategic Partnership Dialogue, U.S. 13 Dec welcomed govt's political reform efforts, including on human rights. NGO Human Rights Watch 9 Dec urged authorities to release Muslim blogger Fozilxoja Orifxojaev, who is facing eight-year prison sentence for “threatening public security over a social-media post”.

November 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

President Mirziyoev was sworn in for second term, while govt participated in 17th EU-Central Asia summit. Mirziyoev 6 Nov began his second presidential term after taking oath of office following last month’s election. EU foreign policy chief 22 Nov met FMs of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in Tajik capital Dushanbe for 17th EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting; parties same day issued joint communiqué that reaffirmed support for “strong, ambitious and forward-looking partnership”, noted “the importance of progressing on the rule of law, democracy, governance, gender equality and universal human rights”, and cited concerns over “regional repercussions of developments in Afghanistan”. Ahead of meeting, NGO Human Rights Watch 19 Nov said govt “harassed political opposition figures in the lead up to elections and targeted outspoken and critical bloggers”. State security service 23 Nov announced detention of suspected members of proscribed group Katiba al-Tawhid wal-Jihad in Tashkent region.

October 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

President Mirziyoyev won second presidential term, while senior Uzbek officials engaged with Taliban govt in Afghanistan. Central Election Commission chairman 25 Oct declared Mirziyoyev winner of election with 80.1% of vote; Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)-led monitoring mission same day said election was “not truly competitive”. Ahead of election on 24 Oct, NGO Human Rights Watch 13 Oct cited restrictions on media freedom and opposition candidates that “compromise the fairness and integrity of the first presidential elections since President Shavkat Mirziyoyev came to power in 2016”. Earlier, U.S. Deputy Sec State Wendy Sherman 4 Oct met with Mirziyoyev in capital Tashkent to discuss bilateral relations; Sherman “underscored the importance of the United States’ strategic partnership with Uzbekistan”. Turkmenistan President Berdymukhammedov 5 Oct met Mirziyoyev in Tashkent where pair “stressed during the talks that peace and stability in Afghanistan are the key to sustainable development in the entire Central Asian region”. FM Abdulaziz Kamilov 7 Oct visited Afghan capital Kabul to meet acting Deputy Head of Taliban govt Mulla Abdul Kabir and acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi; Kamilov said he “received from our Afghan brothers strong and clear assurances that Afghanistan will never impose any threat or danger on Uzbekistan".

September 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

President Mirzyoyev confirmed candidacy for Oct presidential election. Ahead of election on 24 Oct, Mirzyoyev 9 Sept accepted nomination by ruling Liberal Democratic Party to seek second five-year term in office. Govt mid-month reportedly began implementing deal reached with U.S. to transfer Afghan pilots and their families, who had fled Afghanistan in Aug, to U.S. military bases in Middle East; foreign ministry 13 Sept confirmed deportation of all Afghan nationals who had flown to Uzbekistan last month.

August 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Amid concerns over regional security, country faced influx of Afghan military aircraft and forces following Taliban’s takeover of major Afghan cities. Presidents of five Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – 6 Aug met in Turkmenbashi city, Turkmenistan, to discuss range of issues, including regional cooperation and “earliest possible settlement of the situation in neighboring Afghanistan”. Presidential envoy to Afghanistan Ismatulla Irgashev 11 Aug met senior Taliban leadership in Qatar alongside senior Russian and Turkmen officials to discuss bilateral relations, border issues, economic projects, as well as security situation. Following Taliban’s seizure of major Afghan cities including capital Kabul (see Afghanistan), reports mid-month surfaced that dozens of Afghan military aircraft and hundreds of soldiers crossed borders into Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan; notably, Uzbek defence ministry 16 Aug said air defence downed Afghan aircraft that had crossed into Uzbek airspace, later said collision with Uzbek fighter jet caused crash. Delegation to Tajik-Uzbek border demarcation commission 24-29 Aug held talks with Tajik counterparts. Meanwhile, ruling Liberal Democratic Party 7 Aug announced it will nominate President Mirziyoev as candidate for presidential election scheduled for 24 Oct.

July 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Govt considered U.S. request to accept Afghan refugees following high-level meeting that reaffirmed shared interests. FM Abdulaziz Kamilov 1 July met U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken in U.S. capital Washington, after which Blinken said: “We have strong shared interests when it comes to security in the region, particularly with regard to Afghanistan”. Senior official 22 July said there existed no legal basis to agree to U.S. request to accept Afghan refugees who had cooperated with U.S., saying matter “cannot be decided immediately”.

June 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Authorities made series of arrests of suspected extremists, and concerns rose over border security with Afghanistan. Authorities 15 June apprehended group allegedly planning terrorist attacks in Syria. Police next day detained 20 people in Mirzaobod and Yangier districts of eastern Sirdaryo region suspected of distributing “extremist materials” on social media, reportedly confiscating weapons and literature. Authorities 17 June detained six suspected members of proscribed Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir in Urgut district in south-eastern region of Samarkand. Meanwhile, authorities confirmed that 53 Afghan troops and allied militia fighters 23 June crossed border into Uzbekistan to flee stepped-up Taliban offensive (see Afghanistan); also said that after questioning, Afghan pro-govt forces were allowed back into their country. Authorities mid-June announced military drills along border. UN Special Envoy on Afghanistan Deborah Lyons 22 June warned about potential security repercussions of worsening Afghan conflict on “many other countries, near and far".

May 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

President Mirziyoyev pardoned prisoners affiliated to proscribed groups. Marking end of holy month of Ramadan, President Mirziyoyev 12 May released, pardoned or commuted sentences of over 100 inmates, including 52 people convicted for taking part in activities of banned groups. Ahead of Oct presidential election, opposition politician mid-May said justice ministry rejected his application to register Truth and Development Social Democrat Party, citing insufficient signatures.

April 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Authorities implemented last month’s border agreement with Kyrgyzstan while seeking to improve economic ties with adjoining provinces in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Following last month’s deal with Kyrgyzstan to resolve longstanding border disputes, authorities 1 April held opening ceremony for road from Rishtan district of Fergana region to Sokh exclave inside Kyrgyzstan. Governor of eastern Ferghana province 23 April hosted governors of Tajikistan’s Sughd province and Kyrgyzstan’s Batken province for forum aimed at boosting economic and cultural ties between three adjoining regions that are located in Ferghana Valley. After new Criminal Code 31 March went into effect, which among other provisions introduced prison sentences for insulting president online, rights group Committee to Protect Journalists 28 April urged govt to repeal laws ahead of Oct presidential election.

March 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Govt and Kyrgyzstan struck deal to resolve longstanding border disputes. Following state visit to Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent, Kyrgyzstan’s President Japarov and President Mirziyoyev 12 March agreed to complete demarcation of sections of border within three months and improve access between Uzbekistan and its exclave of Sokh inside Kyrgyzstan; Japarov’s press secretary 13 March said “the Uzbek side expressed its readiness not to claim the Unkur-Too area” in Kyrgyzstan’s Osh region. Kyrgyz and Uzbek PMs 25 March approved deal that includes land swaps and opening multiple checkpoints to improve access in and out of Sokh exclave; head of Kyrgyz security services next day said “issues around the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border have been resolved 100 percent” and “there is not a single patch of disputed territory left”. Meanwhile, Ferghana regional court 18 March found 22 defendants guilty of involvement in mass unrest in Kyrgyzstan’s Sokh exclave in May 2020, which left scores injured; defendants sentenced to between two and five years’ imprisonment.

February 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Govt brought forward 2021 presidential election while arrest of blogger prompted international criticism. President Mirziyoev 8 Feb signed into law bill, proposed by parliament in Jan, that rescheduled presidential, parliamentary and local elections, formerly held every five years on first Sunday of last ten days in December, to first Sunday of last ten days in October; move implies next polls now scheduled on 24 Oct 2021. NGO Human Rights Watch 12 Feb condemned 30 Jan arrest of video blogger Otabek Sattoriy, calling extortion case against him “dubious”, said Sattoriy’s coverage of sensitive issues put him in “local authorities’ crosshairs”; UK ambassador 5 Feb said if no credible evidence presented, Sattoriy’s case is “concerning” and “undermines media freedom”, while UN resident coordinator in Uzbekistan 10 Feb said in a tweet UN “welcomes the call for fair & impartial application of the law in respect to this case”.

January 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Uzbekistan

Trial on deadly security incident at dam last year proceeded; video surfaced showing small-scale protest in Fergana region. Tashkent City Court 5 Jan resumed closed-door trial of May 2020 incident at Sardoba dam, which left six people dead and forced 70,000 people to flee their homes in eastern region of Sirdaryo; trial, which started 21 Dec, involved 17 defendants, including officials of state railway company and construction company, accused of negligence, abuse of office, violation of safety regulations and other offenses. NGO Human Rights Watch 7 Jan said authorities are “severely hindering the work of independent nongovernmental organizations” due to “excessive and burdensome registration requirements”, and called on govt to amend its legislation and allow independent groups to register. Video 13 Jan surfaced apparently showing dozens of people blocking road to protest power cuts in Altyaryk district in far-eastern Fergana region; protesters reportedly dispersed after state officials arrived and promised to resolve energy supply issues.