Tag Archives: Child labour

Uzbekistan: Is Santa Ban Linked to Osh Violence?

19 Dec

Observers have reacted with dismay to the news that Uzbekistan is making moves to outlaw Santa Claus as the authorities in Tashkent call for Santa’s  Russian cousin Ded Moroz to be banned from the nation’s airwaves this festive season.

Kazaxia can exclusively reveal that the ban is not some spur-of-the-moment decision but is linked to a long-running dispute with its neighbour Kyrgyzstan. The Santa spat dates back to 2007 when Kyrgyzstan usurped the North Pole as the ideal base for the global present deliverer to base his operations. Tashkent pointed to a Stalin-era map which showed Santa’s new base to be in Uzbek territory.

The problem worsened when inter-ethnic violence broke out in Osh, Kyrgyzstan in 2010 between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks, leaving hundreds dead. Tashkent didn’t react at the time but has now decided to make it’s move by aiming to strangle a valuable foreign currency earner for Bishkek.  Not only are the Kyrgyz coining it in from  Santa Claus – who is  forced to pay an  extortionate rent for the mountain base, but the Russian’s have also got in on the act with a separate base for Ded Moroz, albeit at a much lower rate.

It looks like Santa Claus/Ded Moroz will be giving Uzbekistan a wide-berth this time round, so all that children in the country will have to look forward to is a visit from Evil Uncle Karim, Tashkent’s answer to the traditional present deliverer. Evil Uncle Karim comes with a sinister twist – after descending the chimney he steals the kids’ toys, raids their piggy banks and then drags them off screaming to toil in his cotton fields.

Uzbekistan: Land of Economic Opportunity

2 Oct

Lord Venal is back from his long summer holiday and has some investment advice for Kazaxia’s readers

Uzbekistan, often seen as a basket case economy by many observers, would seem to be the new promised land of economic opportunity, if a thought-provoking piece on Jamestown is to be believed.

Richard Weitz comments on moves taking place to make Uzbekistan an investor’s dream as the government strives to diversify the economy and make the country an attractive place to do business in.

The building formerly known as Bankland, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

He rightly points out that the role of cotton in the Uzbek economy is now lessening in favour of other industries. One sector that could prove interesting to investors  is the gold industry.  Since Britain’s Oxus Gold’s interests in a mine in Uzbekistan were handed over to its Uzbek partners in 2011 there has been a significant gap in the market for foreign investors to fill.

Opportunities abound in telecoms

The telecoms sector is another booming one in Uzbekistan. With the recent court cases opened against Russia’s MTS by the authorities in Tashkent, there should be plenty of takers for the company which was once the country’s largest operator.

One problem highlighted by Weitz is potential labour shortages in Uzbekistan with unemployment at a very low 1.3% according to the International Labor Organization. The Uzbeks have found a way around this thorny issue by sending school children and teachers  along with, university students and lecturers to help out with the cotton harvest.

Weitz cites ‘experts’ who feel that the country should relinquish ‘self-censorship’ in the media to allow information to flow freely and to re-establish currency conversion instead of the current system which sees Uzbek citizens having to go to the black market to get their hands on hard currency at extortionate rates.

With the stability offered by Islam Karimov, at the helm for more than 20 years,  Uzbekistan is indeed the land of economic opportunity for foreign investors.