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Uzbekistan is U-turning its foreign policies to get a fair distance away from the USA
Uzbekistan is U-turning its foreign policies to get a fair distance away from the USA, points out Konstantin Zatulin, Director, Russian Institute of CIS Countries Studies. "They used to be America's friends. They allowed Americans to start bases in their [Uzbek] land. They threw the doors open to Western capital. All that made them sure such policies not so much promoted stability as endangered Uzbekistan's ruling regime," says the expert. An US Air Force base in Khanabad, in the Uzbek south, close to the Afghan frontier, is the Pentagon's en-route airfield for manpower and materiel to be airlifted to whatever part of Central Asia, whenever necessary. Among landmark events, the expert highlighted recent violent developments in Andizhan, Uzbekistan leaving the GUUAM, and President Islam Karimov's current visit to China. Armed insurgents seized a prison and regional administrative premises in Andizhan, fourth-largest Uzbek city, in the small hours of May 13. Troops were introduced quite soon to take the administration house by storm. Official statistics have casualties at 170, while news agencies and rights activists were reporting several hundred victims. Shortly before, May 5, Uzbekistan announced leaving the GUUAM, an organization of Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova, established in 1997. Experts regard the bloc as anti-Russian. As he was referring to the Andizhan tragedy, Mr. Zatulin said: "We Russians see to the root of current Central Asian developments deeper than anyone else. To my mind, it is either wishful thinking or sheer provocation to expect Uzbekistan setting up democracy on the British or US pattern overnight." Russia has, de facto, supported President Karimov's tough action to preserve national stability, as the situation makes it necessary for Moscow to help a CIS country keep steady. It is naive to think that, "we could expect a democratic regime to come to Uzbekistan if only Karimov had been behaving like [Askar] Akayev [recently overthrown Kyrgyz president]," said the expert.
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