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Uzbek President Islam Karimov has become the latest post-Soviet autocrat to claim that the ongoing global economic and financial crisis has proved the prescience of his economic policies.

Speaking at a festive event to mark Uzbekistan's Constitution Day on December 5, Karimov lavished praised on his own decision not to rush into market reforms, saying, "Don't destroy your old house before you've built your new one."

Touting the virtues of his country's tightly controlled economy, the Uzbek leader said the Western market economy is an inappropriate model for other countries, adding that Uzbekistan has its own, unique model of modernization.

He neglected to point out that despite all his "right choices and decisions" (and he left no doubt as to whose decisions they were) and despite Uzbekistan's vast deposits of natural resources, much of the population lives in poverty and hundreds of thousands of Uzbek have left the country for seasonal jobs elsewhere.

As usual, Karimov's speech was greeted with a standing ovation -- virtually no one in Uzbekistan would dare to criticize him or his policies. As Karimov has averred in the past and would have his people believe: Western democratic models don't work in Uzbekistan.

-- Farangis Najibullah

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