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Karimov -- Bold And Nasty

Uzbek President Islam Karimov: "Very nice"

Uzbek President Islam Karimov: "Very nice"

Qishloq Ovozi noted a while back that Uzbek President Islam Karimov, 77, seemed to have problems articulating his thoughts at his April 10 inauguration ceremony.

In the interest of balance, it should now be pointed out that Karimov seemed to have no trouble expressing himself at the May 8 informal summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Moscow. And he had some interesting comments.

There has been a creeping thaw in Uzbek-Tajik relations lately, but it was clear at the informal summit that there will be no thaw in Uzbek-Kyrgyz relations anytime soon.

Kyrgyz President Almaz Atambaev addressed the leaders at the CIS roundtable before Karimov. All were using their speeches to pay homage to the sacrifices of the people of the Soviet Union during World War II.

Atambaev offered his words of praise and noted it was a pity that not all the CIS leaders would stay in Moscow for the massive May 9 parade Moscow was having to commemorate the war's end.

"It would demonstrate their respect to the great victory," Atambaev said.

Karimov was not the only leader at the table who was not attending the May 9 festivities in Moscow, but he seemed to have taken Atambaev's comments personally. Qishloq Ovozi has also noted that Karimov can be quick to take offense.

Fortunately, there is a video of Karimov's speech to the CIS leaders.​

The clip by is 35 minutes, although Karimov does not start speaking until the 23:20 mark. He starts with the obligatory praise for sacrifices of the past. But at about 23:55 he starts responding to Atambaev's remarks, upbraiding him, actually, calling his comments "inappropriate."

Karimov says that "every country, every people, and every leader" has the right to choose when, where, and how they wish to mark anniversaries and other national events. He continues by saying that there is no "obligation" as to which "rituals" a country must observe.

At the 25:50 mark, Atambaev, whose microphone is turned off, calls out that he was simply expressing his opinion.

"Very nice," Karimov says, cutting off Atambaev.

"Your opinion we already know for a long time," Karimov continues, with a smile on his face that suggests how pleased he is with himself at that moment.

Moving ahead, Karimov returns to the theme of praising "our fathers and grandfathers" for their contributions to win the war, and even says that "a special role in the victory, without any exaggeration...belongs first of all to the Russian people."

But at about the 28:00 mark, he transitions from speaking about World War II to warning of the dangers and consequences of a potential World War III, "possibly the last war in the history of humankind."

Karimov then mentions Ukraine, carefully noting he is not criticizing anyone for the situation there but then calling for a restoration of trust between the world's great powers, "firstly between the United States and Russia."

Russian President Vladimir Putin is shown several times while Karimov is saying all this.

I'll leave it to the viewer to decide what those looks on Putin's face might mean.

-- Bruce Pannier, with contributions from RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service (Azattyk) and RFE/RL Uzbek Service (Ozodlik) Director Alisher Sidikov

About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect some of the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change. Content will draw on the extensive knowledge and contacts of RFE/RL's Central Asian services but also allow scholars in the West, particularly younger scholars who will be tomorrow’s experts on the region, opportunities to share their views on the evolving situation at this Eurasian crossroad. The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.


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