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Uzbek President Meets With Key Kremlin Adviser --> President Karimov (right) with Russian President Vladimir Putin in November 2005 (ITAR-TASS) November 16, 2006 -- Uzbek President Islam Karimov has reportedly met with a group of Russian political experts led by key Kremlin adviser Gleb Pavlovsky to explore ways of expanding bilateral ties.

The visit comes just one week after Karimov proposed constitutional changes that some observers say follow a Russian model that places considerable power in the hands of the head of state.

Official Uzbek news agency UzA reports that Karimov told Pavlovsky, who heads the Moscow-based Effective Policy Foundation, that he values his opinion on Uzbekistan's political processes.

The Russian delegation, which is said to include pro-Kremlin political analyst Andranik Migranyan, has been in Samarkand this week to discuss political reforms with pro-government Uzbek political experts.

Addressing journalists on the sidelines of the two-day event in Samarkand, Pavlovsky reportedly praised what he called the "Uzbek model of development," saying it could be applied to other countries.

Pavlovsky also welcomed Karimov's recently announced constitutional plans.

Karimov submitted two bills to parliament in mid-November that envisage parliamentary groups and would give those entities a say in the choice of the prime minister and the governors of Tashkent and its region.

The amendments would oblige the president to consult with parliamentary groups before nominating a candidate for the post of prime minister. But they would also allow the head of state to dismiss the legislature if lawmakers fail in three votes to approve a nominee.

Karimov says the changes are aimed at "democratizing and modernizing" the country.

But independent Uzbek observers dismiss that claim, saying they would bring no more freedom to the country and would just make Uzbekistan's political system look more like that of Russia.

Karimov's administration has courted Moscow heavily since Western government pressure began after a violent security crackdown in eastern Uzbekistan in May 2005.

(UzA,,,, Interfax)
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