Uzbekistan: The Polyanka Pact

16 Sep

Lord Venal has received a missive from one of his sources in Tashkent revealing the outcome of a secret meeting in Uzbekistan’s capital between heir-apparent Shavkat Mirziyoyev and his long-time sidekick Rustam Azimov.

Shortly after the news broke on 28 August of President Islam Karimov’s hospitalisation, Shavkat apparently invited Rustam to Tashkent’s Polyanka restaurant for a discreet tête-à-tête.

Lord Venal’s source saw a happy looking Rustam leave the restaurant clutching a beermat, while a self-satisfied looking Shavkat dropped his to the floor as he left.

The source retrieved the beermat and found the following formula scribbled on it:

(SM x 2) = (RA=PM x 2) = SM

Our source was puzzled, but Lord Venal sniffed a pact along the lines of the infamous Granita Pact between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in the UK in the 90S.

He has interpreted the coded message to mean that Mirziyoyev will be president for two terms with Azimov as his prime minister. The reins of power will then be handed over to  the PM.

As with all these deals, there’s a catch – Mirziyoyev is widely expected to introduce a 14-year presidential term, thus allowing him to be forever known as Uzbekistan’s longest serving president after serving his two terms allowed in the constitution, beating the late Karimov by a year, who will forever be known as Uzbekistan’s first president.

By that time Azimov will be in his mid-8os – a classic case of better late then never.

 

The Best Exotic Marigold Presidential Lodge

9 Sep

Are you an ailing dictator, struggling to maintain your country amid failing health?

Do you fear ending up bearing the burdens of state alone and with no support?

Were you shocked by Islam Karimov’s lonely final years and death?

If so, join the growing international trend of high-end presidential lodges. These lodges gather presidents from several neighbouring countries in a cluster of excellence, with all facilities a modern dictator expects, at affordable prices. In your sunset years, combine running your fiefdom with discreet and dignified support, surrounded by fellow men who appreciate your talents and gain inspiration from you in their own work to better their nations.

You have your own accommodation, fully serviced with all appropriate staff, but can interact with your fellow-dictators in the lounges and communal areas of the facility. Swap wisdom and anecdotes of days gone by. Discuss how to tackle those pesky problems that afflict even the most accomplished of dictators. Surround yourself with a supportive network of like-minded friends.

chilling-out

Afternoon tea is always a relaxing part of the daily schedule….

ready-to-rock-the-house

Evenings of light fun are just a moment away….

The Best Exotic Marigold Presidential Lodge offers many advantages:

– Seclusion when you need it to tackle weighty matters of state, friends on hand for light relief from the burdens of office

– Equipped with all the latest facilities, including dedicated studio for those nightly television addresses to the nation, complete with all relevant backdrops, national flags and accoutrements

– Dedicated runway 5 kms away to fly in cardiac surgeons and other medical personnel from Moscow, Germany and elsewhere, as well as key presidential advisers like Tony Blair (group rates can be negotiated for talks with more than one resident)

– Secure accommodation in separate block for those troublesome daughters if needed

– Guaranteed discretion for the final days of passing to avoid unseemly speculation by ill-informed citizens

“This is just what the late Islam Abduganievich needed to have avoided the loneliness and indignity of his final years” – a fellow regional president.

 

 

Uzbekistan: ‘Butch’ Bites the Dust

5 Sep

News reaches kazaxia from Tashkent that Islom ‘Butch’ Karimov, who in a strange case of mistaken identity became president of Uzbekistan last year, has passed away, just a few days after his namesake Islam Karimov.

Found wandering the streets of Qarshi, Uzbekistan in February last year, Butch was whisked away to Tashkent to become president because of his remarkable likeness to missing president Islam Karimov.

‘Butch’ received his nickname for being a dead ringer of his near namesake, who was most famous for the role he played as the Butcher overseeing the bloody massacre in Andijan, Uzbekistan in 2005.

Unfortunately, Butch never got to realise his dream of emulating his hero, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, by staying in power for more than three decades but in a last request, he may live on as the ‘Eternal President’.

Earlier this week, Lord Venal received some intriguing documents detailing these last wishes. It is not clear whether the next president will act upon them.

Lord Venal was handed the documents in a Tashkent nightclub after a pleasant evening of dancing (not very expertly) and drinking (with more assurance). He was surprised at the good cheer all around, despite the drama being played out in a nearby hospital.

DECREE OF THE PRESIDENT OF UZBEKISTAN

On the title ‘Eternal President’

The First President of the Republic of Uzbekistan is to be awarded the title of ‘Eternal President’.

The title is to exist eternally and cannot be revoked or passed to another individual.

The holiday of the ‘Eternal President’ is to be marked on the anniversary of the birth of the ‘Eternal President’. Ceremonies are to be held at the monument in the capital Tashkent and all towns across Uzbekistan.

I. Karimov

President

29 August 2016

Tashkent

AMENDMENT TO THE CRIMINAL CODE OF THE REPUBLIC OF UZBEKISTAN

DRAFT

The Criminal Code is to be amended with the addition of the following article:

“The attempt to remove from the lawful incumbent the title of ‘Eternal President’ simply because the holder of the title is dead

– shall be punishable with a sentence of deprivation of liberty or imprisonment for eternity, with or without eternal confiscation of property.

I. Karimov

President

 

Uzbekistan: The Endgame is Nigh

30 Aug

With confusion swirling around the fate of Uzbekistan’s long-serving president Islam Karimov, who suffered a brain haemorrhage on 27 August, succession scenarios have mushroomed across the media.

According to an Instagram post from Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, the  ailing president’s youngest daughter, on 29 August, the strongman leader, who has been at the helm of Uzbekistan since before independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, was hospitalised following the cerebral haemorrhage and was in a ‘stable’ condition. Later reports, still unconfirmed, claimed the president had died on that day at 15.35 Tashkent time. The presidential administration subsequently denied this.

This has brought into sharp focus the question of who is next in line to the throne. The frontrunners are Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Finance Minister and first deputy to Mirziyoyev, Rustam Azimov and national security head Rustam Inoyatov, according to EurasiaNet.org and RFE/RL.

Mirziyoyev, 59, is considered to be a gruff hardliner, while Azimov, 57, is a relatively more urbane figure, used to dealing with the wider world. Inoyatov, 72, is more likely to be the kingmaker, unless he’s keen to play Andropov to Karimov’s Brezhnev and delay the long-term succession question.

The Karimov clan could provide a dark horse in the form of the president’s younger daughter, the aforementioned Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, or her husband Timur Tillyaev, but after the spectacular reversal of fortunes of elder daughter Gulnara Karimova, the Karimov clan’s stock may not be very high these days.

Gulnara Karimova, the artist formerly known as GooGoosha, has been under house arrest in Tashkent since early 2014. The chances of her apeing Leicester City and coming good at 5,000-1 are extremely remote.

Tashkent is predictable in its unpredictability, so the close-knit cabal of Uzbekistan’s ruling elite may well have a surprise up its collective sleeve as to who will best protect their interests.

One thing is certain, the will of the people is unlikely to play any significant role in the choice of successor.

SCO “politically unhealthy” film ban

10 Jun

With Tashkent making last minute preparations for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit on 23-24 June, Lord Venal came across this enlightening memo from his recent trip to Tajikistan.

WP_20160511_09_22_54_Pro-2

Tashkent: Sprucing up the Palace of Forums for the SCO summit

Having caught his breath after the crammed programme of his referendum monitoring visit to Dushanbe (frankly the hosts’ generosity – particularly with alcohol – left some parts of the programme rather a blur), Lord Venal found he must have somewhere picked up another interesting document.

This appears to be a proposed secret ban on a number of foreign films, which the SCO considers promote a “politically unhealthy attitude to elected leaders”. The document – which asks that the six member governments back the ban and implement it with no publicity – lists the first batch of what are likely to be a growing list of films, together with a brief description. It calls on the films to be banned from showing in cinemas and on television and blocked on the internet.

Lord Venal remembers seeing several of these at the Rutland Odeon when they first came out in the 1970s, and points out, with some modesty, that he was often told that he bore a passing resemblance to Edward Fox in his youth.

“Films to be banned from presentation (as of 12.04.2016):

October (USSR, 1928) – glorifies the violent overthrow of an established government and turns rebels into heroes.

The Great Dictator (USA, 1940) – encourages unhealthy ridicule of elected leaders and slander over their character and leadership.

Day of the Jackal (UK/France, 1973) – unacceptable presentation of the idea that assassinating an elected head of state is feasible or desirable.

All the President’s Men (USA, 1976) – encourages a cynical attitude to politics and applauds the removal from office of an elected leader.

Primary Colors (US, 1998) – normalises the concept that the outcome of an election could be uncertain.

Downfall (Germany, 2004) – its presentation of the psychological breakdown and encouragement to suicide of an elected head of state promotes an unhealthy attitude to political leadership.

Valkyrie (USA/Germany, 2008) – normalises for viewers the unacceptable idea that organising a coup and removing elected political leaders could be honourable.

Leviathan (Russia, 2014) – depicts an elected politician in an unfavourable light, thus breeding unhealthy cynicism among viewers.”

 

Kazakhstan Issues New Guidelines to Journos

3 Jun

Kazakhstan’s Interior Ministry has issued a new set of guidelines for reporters asking them to ensure that they can be easily identified as members of the press when covering events in the country.

‘Journalists who cover mass actions must have their IDs, badges and the possible identification of the press badges: armbands, hats, vests with the words “press”, “media” to refer to their status,’ Almas Saudabaev, director of the Interior Ministry’s State Language and Information department told reporters.

The move follows a Keystone Cops-style incident in the capital Astana when more than 50 journalists were detained by the police at a non-existent protest rally on 21 May.

Lord Venal’s sweatshop in Taldykorgan has been working overtime to produce a range of hi-vis vests and masks for discerning journalists that conform to the new recommendations.

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While the vest will clearly help you stand out from the crowd and is fully waterproof, the mask is said to protect from the effects of tear gas and pepper spray. For a limited time only the vest and mask combo are available for a sensational $29.99.

In future, the police will be in their usual uniforms, often supplemented by riot gear, and the plain-clothes officers of the security services can be spotted in dark suits, black leather jackets and sunglasses.

To help the authorities, maybe anyone thinking of protesting about anything should don the following outfit:

 

 

Astana Cycling Team Snatches Victory in Italy

30 May

The cash for the grand Astana sports project may be drying up, but the cycling team is not out yet as it pedalled to victory in the Giro d’Italia for the third time on 29 May.

Team Astana’s Vincente Nibali put in a plucky performance over the last few days, helped in no small part by long-term race leader Steven Kruijswijk’s crash at the start of the descent of the Coll dell’Agnello in stage 19 of the 21-stage race.

Nibali won the Giro for Astana in 2013, adding to Alberto Contador’s victory in 2008, but with the cash for the project drying up, as falls in the oil price have hit Kazakhstan’s coffers, Nibali could be on his way to join a new start-up cycling outfit in Bahrain.

Nibali rides next in the Tour de France in July, but is insistent that he will play second fiddle to Astana team leader Fabio Aru. Nibali is also targeting the Rio Olympics.

If the two-times Giro winner does pack his bags for the Gulf, then the cash-strapped Astana team will perhaps look to signing cycling wunderkind Peter Sagan on a miserly $4.5 million per year contract.