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Medvedev To Karimov -- Leave Office Voluntarily

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (right) with his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (right) with his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov
Title sounds far-fetched, eh? But that is what a broadcast on Russia's "Kommersant FM" radio said on June 14. The radio station interviewed Sergei Zatsepilov, the general director of the "For a Just Foreign Policy" center.

Zatsepilov said on the eve of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, that Dmitry Medvedev wants to impress upon Islam Karimov the need for Uzbekistan to have a "peaceful transfer of power" and that to ensure this the SCO was willing to "take it upon itself to guarantee security."

Zatsepilov said "internal upheavals in Uzbekistan are entirely possible," especially if Karimov died in office, which could lead to a power struggle among the country's elites.

Zatsepilov said the "Arab Spring" has frightened the Uzbek authorities and caused concerns among Uzbekistan's SCO allies that similar unrest could strike Central Asia, particularly Uzbekistan.

Russian TV First Channel showed Medvedev meeting with Karimov in Tashkent on June 14.

The report showed the two presidents looking very glum and Medvedev saying the year started with the Arab Spring and such events are likely to have unforeseeable consequences around world.

"We are interested that (future) events develop along scenarios that are understandable and predictable for us," Medvedev said, as Karimov sat a meter away looking very unhappy.

Russian media has recently done other reports portraying Uzbekistan and the country's leadership in an unflattering light. Karimov has always been suspicious of Russia and has again seemingly cast his lot in with the West.

But Karimov is also surely aware of the fate of former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev, who became a victim of Russian soft power when Russian media launched an all-out blitz on Bakiev and his family in early 2010.

Angry crowds chased Bakiev from power in April of the same year.

-- Bruce Pannier