7 April 2004, Volume
The Week At A Glance
Violence in Uzbekistan overshadowed all other events. A series of suicide bombings and shoot-outs began on 28 March with an explosion in a village outside of Bukhara. The blast leveled a house and killed 10 people, many of them related. Authorities later said that the occupants were religious extremists manufacturing explosive devices when an inadvertent detonation occurred. Later that night, several assaults on police officers took place in Tashkent. On the morning of 29 March, female suicide bombers struck the Chorsu market in Tashkent. On 30 March, gun battles raged in a Tashkent suburb, leaving nearly 20 militants dead by day's end. Two bombing incidents on 31 March and 1 April killed two people. Only by the end of the week had an uneasy calm returned.
Uzbek Prosecutor-General Rashid Qodirov briefed journalists on 2 April with an official tally of the dead and wounded. He said that the violence claimed the lives of 33 terrorists, 10 policemen, and 4 civilians. According to Qodirov, 19 people have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the violence. Uzbek officials have linked the attacks with other high-profile terror strikes worldwide and suggested that they are the work of an international terror group possibly affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Other observers noted that the limited number of civilian casualties and the apparent effort to target police suggest a somewhat different pattern.
Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev urged his country's lawmakers to pass new legislation to bring the country's laws into line with the constitution and to spur economic development. The president also signed into law a controversial bill intended to bolster the status and use of the Kyrgyz language. Akaev was careful to note, however, that the new law will not infringe on the rights of Russian-speakers. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev dispatched two controversial laws recently approved by parliament -- on the media and on elections -- to the Constitutional Council to test their constitutionality. The council has one month to respond.
Tajikistan's Justice Ministry finally turned down the opposition Taraqqiyot (progress) Party's application for official registration. Party representatives had been trying to register since December 2003, at one point staging a brief hunger strike to protest the ministry's sluggish response. Rejection in hand, Taraqqiyot now plans protests and lawsuits.
Turkmenistan engaged Russia's National Reserve Bank (NRB) -- a private institution despite its name -- for help in collecting $500 million it believes it is owed by Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Kazakhstan. NRB may soon have a chance to test its negotiating skills, as Azerbaijan quickly announced that it recognizes only $18 million of the $56 million Turkmenistan claims it owes. Meanwhile, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov decided that his country has enough mosques. Niyazov told members of the Religious Affairs Council at a 29 March meeting, "I'm handing over three more mosques to you, and then we won't build any more. That's enough."Terror in Uzbekistan: Preliminary Conclusions
A wave of terror attacks and violent clashes with police struck Uzbekistan between 28 March and 1 April, leaving nearly 50 people dead. Uzbek authorities have stressed the involvement of suicide bombers -- a first in Central Asia -- and alleged Islamists, claiming that the attacks are part and parcel of the worldwide terror threat popularly exemplified by Al-Qaeda. The attackers' apparent efforts to target police and the comparatively low number of civilian casualties suggest, however, that other interpretations of are equally plausible.
The violence began with an explosion in the village of Qahramon (Romitan Raion, Bukhara Oblast) on the evening of 28 March. Various sources placed the time of the blast between 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tribune.uz, an independent Internet newspaper funded by George Soros's Open Society Foundation, reported on 29 March that the explosion killed 10 people and destroyed an entire house. Pensioner Ne'mat Razzoqov, his son, granddaughter, and a number of male guests perished. Razzoqov's wife survived and was hospitalized.
Uzbek authorities claimed in a 29 March announcement that the Razzoqovs had been preparing explosive devices for use in terrorist acts when the blast occurred. Neighbors described the family as extremely pious, tribune.uz reported. Russia's gazeta.ru wrote that Ne'mat Razzoqov's 25-year-old son was an adherent of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Banned in Uzbekistan, Hizb ut-Tahrir seeks to reestablish the Islamic caliphate; it espouses nonviolent means, but its radical goals and penchant for secrecy have led some to suggest that the organization is biding its time before an eventual violent strike. Emergency workers discovered 1.5 tons of explosives in the ruins of the house, tribune.uz reported on 30 March. Other reports indicated that the authorities found 50 half-liter plastic bottles filled with a mixture of aluminum powder and ammonium nitrate, as well as 920 kilograms of additional aluminum powder. A rescuer told tribune.uz, "If all of the explosives that were there had gone off, there would have been nothing left of the village."
Three policemen were killed in two separate assaults in Tashkent on the evening of 28 March and early morning of 29 March. A report by Uzbekistan's official UzA news agency on 29 March stated that one policeman was killed and one wounded when they were attacked at 1:40 a.m. on 29 March after approaching a group of "suspicious individuals" and asking to see their identification. A gun was stolen from one of the policemen. At 5 a.m. on 29 March, three unknown assailants attacked a police patrol, killing two policemen and stealing their firearms, CentrAsia reported on 29 March. In a separate incident in Tashkent at 10:30 p.m. on 28 March, one man was arrested and 10 homemade bombs confiscated, CentrAsia and UzA reported.
Numerous sources reported that two suicide bombings took place near the Chorsu market on the morning of 29 March. The market, it should be noted, does not operate on Mondays, and it was closed on the morning of the attacks. Most sources said the blasts occurred at 8:30 a.m. and 9:05 a.m., respectively, but accounts varied on exact times and locations. RFE/RL's Uzbek Service quoted an eyewitness on 30 March as saying that the first explosion took place near a children's store at the market entrance where policeman usually lined up in the morning to receive instructions. The police, and not the store, appear to have been the target. The witness said that after the explosion he saw seven policemen lying on the ground "covered in blood" and a female suicide bomber whose body had been "blown apart." A second female suicide bomber reportedly blew herself up at the Chorsu bus stop, killing a small girl and wounding a policeman. Meanwhile, gazeta.ru reported that a male suicide bomber set off the second blast, killing three policemen.
The official report by the UzA news agency spoke of one explosion at Chorsu that killed two people, and a suicide attack at 9:24 a.m. at the Ko'kaldosh madrasah that claimed only the attacker's life. Most news agencies reported three policemen and one child killed in two suicide attacks at the Chorsu market (two suicide bombers also perished), Uzbek Interior Ministry spokesman Ilhom Zakirov told a news conference on 29 March that the death toll from all of the events of 28-29 March was 19 killed (including six policemen) and 26 wounded, with 11 suspects taken into custody.
Events grew more confusing on 30 March. For much of the day, Uzbek security forces battled suspected terrorists in a Tashkent suburb. AP reported that the incident began with a car stopped at a checkpoint -- two alleged terrorists "jumped out and detonated explosive-laden belts" while others fled to nearby residences. An Interior Ministry spokesman later told AP that 16 alleged militants -- 11 men and 5 women -- were killed in the ensuing fighting. Tribune.uz reported that up to 40 militants may have been involved in the fighting.
Uzbekistan's Interior Ministry claimed at first that 20 terrorists blew themselves up on 30 March when security forces tried to detain them, Interfax reported the same day. At a 2 April briefing, Uzbek Prosecutor-General Rashid Qodirov broke the figure down into two incidents with a different explanation of the circumstances. In the first incident, two terrorists died in an explosion when their car was stopped at a police checkpoint. Three policemen died and 11 were injured. In the second incident, two groups of militants -- one 14-strong and one 4-strong -- perished in fighting in the village of Salar (Qibray Raion, Tashkent Oblast), some from gunshot wounds and others in self-detonated explosions.
Several intriguing details surrounded the events of 30 March. AP quoted at least one local resident as saying that the women in one of the cars wore veils and spoke a Central Asian language the witness could not understand. EurasiaNet reported that three of those killed in the shootout were later found to have had in their possession weapons stolen from police, most likely on 28 March.
Less serious incidents occurred later in the week. On 31 March, Qilichbek Azimbekov, described by Prosecutor-General Qodirov as a "terrorist accomplice," blew himself up after a stand-off with police, UzA reported the same day. He was the only victim. The next day, Farog'at Akramova set off an explosive device in the same village outside of Bukhara where the first blast had taken place. Akramova survived with extensive injuries, but 10-year-old Zarina Saidova was killed, UzA reported. Saidova was the younger sister of Babur Amonov, who died in the 28 March explosion. Akramova was Amonov's widow.
The events seem to have caught Uzbekistan's cautious state-run media off guard. Uzbek television did not begin covering the events until the evening of 29 March, when a special broadcast featured an address by President Islam Karimov, tribune.uz reported on 30 March. Before the emergency broadcast, state television had aired a documentary about Jacques Cousteau while other stations merely displayed a blank screen, fergana.ru reported.
Uzbek officials soon regained their bearings and began to brief the press. Prosecutor-General Qodirov tallied the week's death toll at a 2 April briefing: 33 terrorists, 10 policemen, and 4 civilians. Qodirov said that the authorities detained 19 people on suspicion of involvement in the violence. Other sources listed much higher totals as human-rights organizations warned of a widespread campaign against anyone suspected of Islamist leanings. "Kommersant-Daily" cited such sources on 1 April as reporting that 200 people had been arrested. A law-enforcement source told the newspaper, "We've received instructions to treat potential militants very harshly. We arrest them using physical force. After our colleagues died, we gave up on persuasion; we beat them right away."
Two persistent rumors floated at the margins of news reports and formed the basis of heated discussions on Uzbek web forums, especially during the early hours when official sources were silent. The first was that the Interior Ministry and National Security Service had been placed on high alert in the week preceding the attacks. The second rumor was that policemen were called up for special duty at 3 a.m. the night before events began, and that some policemen had instructed their relatives to remain at home. It should be stressed that these rumors have remained entirely unconfirmed.
Some unconfirmed reports suggested events that differed significantly from official versions. For example, fergana.ru reported that 10 policemen were killed in the first explosion at the Chorsu market. The second blast, according to fergana.ru, claimed only the life of a male suicide bomber. An elderly man who witnessed the second blast told fergana.ru: "I saw [the suicide bomber] myself. He was lying near the new tea house with his stomach torn out."
Finally, another unconfirmed report stated that a minibus filled with explosives blew up near the Charvoq reservoir outside Tashkent on 30 March. Numerous media outlets noted that if the reservoir's dam had been breached, the resulting flood could have engulfed the capital. Russia's "Izvestiya" even headlined an article on 30 March: "Militants Nearly Flood Tashkent." Subsequent reports indicated, however, that a car-bomb attack would be unlikely to damage the heavily guarded dam.
Some observers linked the plethora of rumors and unconfirmed reports to a paucity of official information and what many described as an "information vacuum" in the Uzbek capital, particularly on 29-30 March.
President Karimov announced in a televised interview on 29 March that extremists with backing from abroad had spent six to eight months preparing the terror attacks. He termed them "evil forces" and described them as hoping "to destabilize the situation." Prosecutor-General Rashid Qodirov was more specific in a news conference the same day, blaming Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
By 1 April, Ilya Pyagay, the deputy antiterrorism chief at Uzbekistan's Interior Ministry, had announced that a branch of Al-Qaeda was behind the violence. According to Pyagay, "These are Wahhabis who belong to one of the branches of the international Al-Qaeda terror group." Meanwhile, Qodirov seemed to back off from these assertions, telling reporters the same day that a government commission would have preliminary results to report "in three or four days." Qodirov explained that "the investigation does not rule out either the involvement...of the Hizb ut-Tahrir organization or a tie with international terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda."
A spokesperson for Hizb ut-Tahrir denied involvement. Imran Waheed in London stressed that the group eschews violence and suggested that the Uzbek government itself could be behind the attacks. A subsequent 2 April statement from "Hizb ut-Tahrir in Uzbekistan" posted to CentrAsia (http://www.centrasia.ru) also denied any connection to the attacks.
Muhammad Solih, leader of the opposition Erk (Freedom) Party, condemned the terror attacks while noting that "the political regime of Uzbekistan, with its emphasis on repression against dissidents, has created good conditions for terror." Other opposition figures and groups also mixed condemnation for the attacks with criticism of the government in their statements.
Official international reaction was sympathetic, yet somewhat reticent, in a reflection of international ambivalence about the Karimov regime. The following exchange on 2 April between White House spokesman Scott McClellan and a reporter captures the ambivalence:
Question: "Are Uzbekistan's problems local, or are those of concern to the global fight on terror?"
MR. McCLELLAN: "Well, we work closely with them in the global war on terrorism, and we will continue to do so. And I think that if you can -- specific questions about recent attacks, that would probably be best addressed to Uzbekistan about who is responsible."
U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher delivered a more polished statement, saying: "We'd like to extend our condolences to the government of Uzbekistan and the Uzbek people for the injuries and loss of life caused by these terrorist attacks. The attacks are yet another example of the importance of continuing cooperation against those who would stop at nothing to achieve their misguided goals." U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told Uzbek Foreign Minister Sodiq Safoyev that the United States is ready to assist Uzbekistan in the wake of the terror attacks, AP reported on 30 March. President George W. Bush also conveyed his condolences to Karimov in a telephone call.
At least two leading U.S. newspapers provided remarkably similar editorial responses to events in Uzbekistan. A 1 April editorial in "The Washington Post" commented: "Mr. Karimov, who aspires to a strategic alliance with the United States, has portrayed the violence as another episode in the global struggle against terrorism. In one sense he's right: Uzbekistan has been a target for Islamic extremists, some of them allied with al Qaeda or the Taliban movement of neighboring Afghanistan. The trouble is that Mr. Karimov may have done as much to produce the terrorists as he has to combat them."
"The New York Times" echoed the sentiment on 5 April: "After a deadly series of bombings that have claimed at least 47 lives, Uzbekistan has been quick to portray itself as the latest American ally to be targeted for retaliation by international terrorism. There is truth to that: the formerly Soviet Central Asian republic contains an American air base that supports operations in neighboring Afghanistan and has been targeted by groups linked to Al Qaeda. But that is hardly the whole story. Uzbekistan's ruthless dictator, Islam Karimov, uses his country's role in the campaign against global terrorism as cover for repression that only foments further terror, of the homegrown variety."
Meanwhile, some Russian media pursued an entirely different interpretation. Mikhail Leontev, a pro-Putin commentator on state-controlled ORT, stopped just short of suggesting on 31 March that the United States could be behind the attacks in Uzbekistan. Spain's "El Mundo" writes that "the people who carried out the terror attacks [in Madrid] were some kind of unschooled minor-league riffraff. The people who carried out the terror attacks in Uzbekistan seem even more like riffraff. Riffraff is not very good at coordinating its activities on an international level. But we can see very clearly the synchronization of outbursts of terrorism with domestic political problems within the United States, both economic and election-related..."
A 1 April analysis by RossBusinessConsulting (RBC) filled in the blanks: "According to specialists queried by RBC, the events in Uzbekistan could have been staged by the United States. The Americans have an interest in redrawing the borders in Central Asia and creating pockets of manageable conflict. This will allow the United States to establish itself in strategically important parts of the region. This is why Washington is no longer satisfied with the loyal and stable regime of Islam Karimov. The experts feel that the United States could easily let the situation in the region develop along the lines of the scenario perfected in Kosovo."
The lack of a free press in Uzbekistan makes it difficult to gauge popular reaction. Official media printed condolences from world leaders intermingled with outraged condemnation of the attacks by ordinary citizens. Opposition journalists were dismissive, however. Sergei Yezhkov, a journalist from Uzbekistan whose outspokenness recently led to his dismissal from an official newspaper, wrote on fergana.ru on 2 April, "Most of the statements on television and articles in the newspaper do not count. They were manufactured in classic Soviet style."
A 5 April report by RFE/RL's Uzbek Service titled "The people condemn terror, but..." cautiously noted, "While Uzbek officials claim that the explosions were organized from abroad and were the work of religious extremists, many people have concluded otherwise." When fergana.ru conducted an informal poll of Tashkent residents on 1 April, respondents -- many of whom chose not to give their names -- viewed the attacks as an expression of popular discontent. Frequently noting that police were the primary targets of attacks, typical comments focused on popular dissatisfaction with corrupt and oppressive law enforcement and a lack of viable outlets for political dialogue. One must note, however, that the bulk of the materials that appeared on fergana.ru during the crisis were harshly critical of the Uzbek government, a stance their survey duly reproduced.
The terror attacks come at a time when Uzbekistan is experiencing growing international pressure over its human-rights record. Moreover, many of the cases that have stirred international indignation concern the Uzbek government's repressive tactics in the struggle to contain such Islamist groups as Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Recent reports by International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch have lambasted the Uzbek government for an egregious and worsening record of human-rights violations. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development recently decided to reduce its level of engagement with Uzbekistan and it agreed with most observers that Uzbek economic reforms are stalled.
Finally, the Bush administration faces a difficult decision in the spring over Uzbekistan, where the U.S. maintains a forward supply base in Uzbekistan to support operations in Afghanistan. A recent State Department report gave Uzbekistan low marks on human rights, and government-to-government assistance programs totaling some $50 million will have to be axed unless the Bush administration decides to waive the human-rights requirements. Domestic pressure has been building on the issue, with a number of op-eds and editorials in "The Washington Post" condemning Uzbekistan's human-rights record, questioning the country's usefulness as a U.S. ally in the war on terror, and urging increased U.S. pressure on the Karimov regime to implement reforms.
While only Uzbek officials seemed ready to assign blame for the attacks, some independent observers were willing to offer preliminary analytical comments. Aleksei Malashenko of the Carnegie Moscow Center told "The New York Times" on 30 March that the attack was similar to the recent bombings in Spain in that it targeted a U.S. ally. In separate comments quoted on polit.ru, Malashenko noted: "In addition to the goals set by Al-Qaeda and other international Islamist organizations, there was another goal here -- to show Karimov and the entire Uzbek establishment that they're not the sole rulers of the country. Uzbek Islamist terrorists are trying to influence the domestic situation; they're pursuing their own goals."
The domestic situation was the primary focus of concern for other observers. Yezhkov, the aforementioned journalist who was recently dismissed from a state-controlled newspaper, contributed two articles to fergana.ru in response to the attacks. In the first, on 30 March, he wrote: "I recall the words of one of my colleagues, who spoke immediately after the first explosions rang out in Tashkent. 'This is the shot from the Aurora,' he remarked bitterly." In a later comment, Yezhkov remarked that calm had returned to Tashkent by the morning of 31 March and "the acts of violence and terror that unexpectedly befell the country ended as quickly as they began."
Yezhkov suggested that the organizers had hoped to spark a general uprising. "Knowing the true attitude of most people toward the police," he wrote, "those who prepared the acts of terror probably hoped to be met with understanding and support [among the populace]." But Yezhkov noted that the vast majority of Uzbeks, however much they might dislike a police force viewed as corrupt and often brutal, chose to uphold the law in the face of instability. Still, he warned, "Even though they were using live ammunition, these suicidal individuals' plan misfired. This was no 'shot from the Aurora.' But we should not forget it, for it is important to remember its causes."
Esmer Islamov, described as a "freelance journalist specializing in Uzbek political affairs" who writes under a pseudonym, opined on EurasiaNet on 30 March: "The broad scope of the violence...suggests that the episode may be a home-grown insurgency, rather than a strike by international terrorists." He concluded, "It may be the work of a new group, with its origins rooted in the despair generated by the Karimov government's stranglehold over the country's political and economic life."
Svante Cornell, an expert on Central Asia at Sweden's Uppsala University, told RFE/RL on 31 March: "The reigning assumption is that this is a work done by the most prevalent armed opposition to the government, which is the Islamic extremists." Cornell went on to note that the perpetrators could come from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, could be linked to Al-Qaeda, or could represent a splinter group of Hizb ut-Tahrir that has chosen to embrace violence.
Ahmed Rashid, the author of "Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia," told "The Christian Science Monitor" on 1 April that, "Clearly the idea is to get public support by targeting the police, and provoke some public reaction." Rashid told the newspaper that the attackers may represent a "cross-pollination" of Islamic groups. He concluded, "This could be a splinter group [of Hizb ut-Tahrir] that decided to go down the path of violence, or part of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan underground."
Though the attribution of responsibility for the attacks in Uzbekistan remains a guessing game at this early stage, some conclusions appear premature. For example, the supposed similarity between the attacks in Madrid and Uzbekistan -- both are U.S. allies -- is offset by a glaring difference: the attack in Madrid was intended to kill a large number of ordinary people; the attacks in Uzbekistan primarily targeted policemen and do not appear to have been designed to cause significant civilian casualties. The pattern of such presumed Al-Qaeda attacks as Madrid, Bali, and even Casablanca does not hold in Uzbekistan. Even if a subsequent link to a radical Islamist group emerges, the attacks seem to have been directed at "regime targets," not ordinary citizens.
The focus on regime was evident in initial reactions to the bombings at the Chorsu market, where bombings took place on a day when the market was closed and, in at least one instance, targeted a gathering of policemen. RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reported on 29 March that police had beaten an old man to death at Chorsu on 28 March after he interceded in a dispute between police and saleswomen. EurasiaNet reported on 30 March: "A palpable hostility for the police could be felt among onlookers at the Chorsu bazaar.... Some mentioned an incident the day before the blasts occurred, in which a vendor had been beaten to death by police." RFE/RL's Uzbek Service recorded similar emotions: "Most of the traders and witnesses at Chorsu linked [the bombings] with the incident on 28 March when police beat a 78-year-old man to death at Chorsu."
Another premature conclusion is that suicide attacks are a surefire indication of a link to Al-Qaeda or other Muslim-extremist movements. The technique so powerfully linked in the popular imagination with "Muslim extremists" does not belong to them alone. (In a disturbing incident that illustrates the phenomenon's increasingly global reach, a disgruntled miner blew himself up in Bolivia's congress on 30 March, killing himself and two policemen, AP reported the next day.) In fact, the use of suicide bombers against "regime targets" has been employed to the widest and bloodiest effect by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). As the BBC reported on 2 May 2000, "The LTTE has carried out at least five times more such attacks than other similar organizations put together." Al-Qaeda and its offshoots have generally been distinguished by a preference for massive strikes against soft targets. The Al-Qaeda suicide attack that killed Ahmed Shah Massoud, leader of Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, in 2001, is the exception that proves the rule.
The suggestion that the mere fact of suicide attacks in Uzbekistan is insufficient evidence of a connection to Al-Qaeda should not be taken to have any moral significance. It serves only to restrain us from potentially misleading generalizations. As James Steinberg argued in a 2002 article in "Brookings Review" (vol. 20), "Different terrorist groups pose different challenges and require different tools, even as we categorically condemn their methods. The threat posed by al Qaeda differs from the threat posed by the Irish Republican Army or even by the bloody suicide killers of the Tamil Tigers."
What these caveats should make clear is that only a thorough and unbiased investigation can throw light on the true nature of the violent events that rocked Uzbekistan last week, and provide firm ground for further analysis. While we must be careful not to prejudge the Uzbek government's efforts on this score, time is growing short for official Tashkent to restore its credibility. The Karimov government's policy of quashing internal dissent and disregarding democratic norms in the name of stability has alienated much of the international community. Last week's events revealed as illusory the stability that repression had supposedly established. Unless more effective policies are in the offing, the tragedies in Tashkent and Bukhara could become part of a vicious circle in which ill-conceived efforts to enforce stability enter into a symbiotic relationship with violent extremism amid escalating volatility, both in Uzbekistan and in the broader expanse of Central Asia.Under The Weather
Turkmen President-for-life Saparmurat Niyazov fired the head of his meteorological service, Suhanberdi Bayramov, on 29 March for inaccurate weather forecasts. Turkmen TV broadcast the cabinet meeting the next day. In this excerpt, Niyazov addresses Begench Atamuradov, deputy chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers and minister of agriculture:
"The meteorological service keeps giving us the same old weather forecasts every day. How is it possible to work like this? [Suhanberdi Bayramov, head of the Hydrometeorological Committee] is cheating the state and the people. He said that it would be 29 degrees Celsius yesterday and today he keeps repeating the same thing. But there was no such heat! All of his weather forecasts are like that.
"[Addressing Bayramov]You are fired! How could you write a weather forecast like that? You said it was 29 degrees Celsius yesterday and 29 degrees Celsius today. Where is the heat? Where was yesterday's heat? Even before this, the information you were providing wasn't up to scratch.
"You said there will be no rain, but it rains. You failed to forecast the recent three days of rainfall. You said that there would be no rain in the near future.
"What are you doing there working as a team? You are fired! Leave the session. The forecasts should be at least somewhat realistic. But this doesn't even come close to reality.
"[Addressing Atamuradov] I told you about 20 days ago to keep making demands on Bayramov, because you can't event plant cotton [with forecasts like this].
"I think aviation doesn't get any [worthwhile] information from him either. There is a guy who graduated from the Hydrometeorology Institute of Leningrad. He's from Birata [eastern Turkmenistan] -- appoint him. He is publishing a magazine. He tries to do his best. But you, Begench, you don't care."