Between the holiday and mourning: RBC report from Uzbekistan

On September 3, Islam Karimov was buried. RBC correspondent has spent three days in Uzbekistan, watching how the government and the citizens of the republic make the way from the Independence Day celebrations to mourning of the founder of the state.
Origin source
In the evening on August 31 in Tashkent crowded teahouses. Tomorrow begins a three-day weekend here to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Uzbek statehood, which will be replaced by a three-day mourning for the founder of the modern Uzbek President Islam Karimov. But this is still no clue. Sitting around the Uzbeks relax before the long holidays, preventing the beer and vodka, the air is literally saturated with the smells of kebab and pilaf. Although Uzbekistan - a Muslim country, alcohol is not forbidden: after sunset, "Allah does not see", he explains to me by a local.

Death on Facebook

While Moscow is actively discussing the possibility of the death of Karimov, which on the same day, 31 August, according to the opposition website " reported" there seems to be no one believes it. For a country with a very young population (average age - 27.1 years) Karimov has always been, and his departure is not easy to believe. The more that the official media insist that the leader is alive, although it was in the hospital.

"Personally, I'm not sure that he was dead. Karimov could well take away Israel to be treated in a nibud or Germany. Most of the people that does not use special software to circumvent censorship on the internet, just do not know what is happening, "- explains the prosperity of foreign visitors to the teahouse came with me here Uzbek political analyst Andrei Saidov.

The main source of information neottsenzurirovannoy in Uzbekistan are social networks. Specialized groups on Facebook repost the publication of the Russian and Western media devoted to the political life in Central Asia. In anticipation of the holidays are filled with information about the health of the president.

Especially popular in those days used the Public "Health Karimov" arising after the official announcement of the leader of Uzbekistan hospitalization. Administrators group published in it information on the state of the president, denied the rumors about his death, wrote comments like "pray for grandpa!", collected signatures against the site "the", who continued to insist that Karimov is no longer alive.

Tashkent journalist Aleksey Volosevich many here called independentmym. On his page on the social network, it relays the publication of prohibited publications Asiaterra, whose editor is. He says RBC that guessed the death of the president on the eve of Independence Day, when a walk in the center of Tashkent and saw police strengthen, which traditionally happens during the holidays: "We calmly walked past the checkpoint, reached the gates of the presidential residence."

After that, he came to the hospital, which Tashkent called "the first government hospital," where supposedly was Islam Karimov. "There is no cordon, too, was not there. Thirty meters from the entrance stood a police car, where two policemen were asleep. In the hospital yard pass freely through the checkpoint and people out too. I tried to go and was stopped, but not heavily armed guard, and the only one janitor, who said that the hospital no one takes now, "- says Volosevich RBK. Then he suggested that Karimov or not in the country, or "guard is simply no one."

On the eve of the holiday of powerIt reported that all events involving the president and officials canceled. Firework display also will not be, but Tashkent residents can participate in the holiday festivities, drink cold soda and eating popcorn.

Holiday without "grandfather"

On the day of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of independence of Uzbekistan state television announcer read a large congratulation that he allegedly wrote, Islam Karimov, suddenly feeling better. Downtown in the morning began to fill up police patrols and obviously are in place for the people in civilian clothes, who were hiding from the beginning of September untypical for baking.

The squares were set scenes, sound engineers tuned nasty fonyaschuyu from time to time equipment. On the alleys barkers offering to buy a ticket for some simple rides. On a pedestrian street lined with merchants huge bag of popcorn. Racks street photographers were arranged almost every hundred meters, but this service is not popular, but "selfie-stick" was in the hands of each of the third.

Typically, these events startIt was about 11 o'clock in the morning, but at this time idly strolling citizens can be counted on the fingers. Many clothes were attached to small ribbon in the colors of the national flag. Under their feet creaked new paving slabs. According to local residents, the city that day was much cleaner than usual. Until the evening wanting to leave the darts or throw a basketball into the plastic ring, based on the simple prize was little.

Those who came to the festival in the city center were concentrated there, where you could find shade. Almost all of the benches around the fountain next to the National Security Service of Uzbekistan were occupied by people, young couples were looking for a good angle for selfie. A good angle meant the decision known to all local issues: to put in a frame beautiful jet of water, but not climbed the building security forces that shoot prohibited. Not all of it out, so they asked passersby to photograph them.

"In fact, we have all the festivals of recent years is not very crowded. People prefer not to waste a few days off, do not get drunk somewhere in tsetre, and get out of town on vacation, "- explains Andrey local guide.

Although Tashkent has modern water parks, swimming pools and even its own Disneyland, many locals prefer to go on holiday for the city especially popular reservoir - Charvak and Tuyabuguzskoe, also known as the Tashkent sea. Afford a minibus to Tashmorya can afford either - it costs 2000 soums (44 rubles.). Further leisure depends on inclinations and wallet, and there is infrastructure for tourists - cafes, water sports, etc., but it is possible, as most do, stay for free in their own towel with products seized from the house.

With Andrew we go through the mahalla - private housing estate. On the narrow streets of go blank walls of adobe houses, forming a long maze, in which worn tanned children attend sheep and sit at the crossroads of women in colorful robes and sell the piece of cigarettes and other small items. But the basic life going on inside hidden from the eyes of outsiders yards. Inside is sure to be a tree, couch, where you can otdohand pull the welcome guests, and maybe even a small fountain.

"The Uzbeks - a nation that is unlikely to happen to administer street politics, hold rallies in public squares and express their opinion at all and even more discontent. Their conversation on the street is difficult, especially a stranger. If people in Tashkent rare, but have something to say privately, looking around, that in regions is possible. It is sufficient to show a policeman frightened to run away all ", - says Andrey.

He added that many remembers the bloody events of 2005 in the Ferghana Valley. Then, in the largest city in eastern Uzbekistan Andijan crowd of local residents gathered for a rally demanding the release of those arrested on charges of involvement in radical Islamic organization business. It was seized by the prison building and the regional administration. The next morning, went to Andijan heavy machinery, which opened fire on the crowd in the center of all, including women and children. Killed hundreds of people, thousands managed to escape into neighboring Kyrgyzstan, becoming refugees.

"All power is in the hands of the security forces. fullyochiya police are endless, so to them, no one ever argues. People are afraid. Here, the level of self-censorship going wild ", - says Andrey soon as we have several times in ten minutes to check things with a metal detector.

The police searches at the entrance to the subway or public places is a usual thing. Local when a patrol is automatically drawn to the bag to show that there is nothing forbidden.

unwanted information

If it was relatively not crowded, in the sleeping areas of life was in full swing in the middle of the festive city. Here own infrastructure - shops, markets, cafes: all that can be found in the center, but much cheaper.

"Previously, before weekends and holidays, the authorities, say, traders warned, it is better to pack up and leave for a few days. Otherwise, there will always be a reason for the suspension of the store. Now do not even need to warn all and so to understand and go ", - said opposition filmmaker Oleg Karpov.

Most recently, he worked on a series felms on the presidential motorcade, which is twice a day passes under the windows of his apartment in a panel Khrushchev. According to Karpov, first came to him often precinct due to the fact that he is the only of the whole house did not close the window during a motorcade. But then it gave up.

But in general, the freedom of opinion in Uzbekistan, the situation does not seem bright. On Independence Day in the park Bobur police detained journalist Saeed Yanyshev, who filmed on video festivals. "I was approached by people in mufti and in uniform then. The most important among them was the high tone to ask me who I am, why shoot, he called two operas, gave them a mandate: to accompany me to the police station and the "check me in full." However, this time there were no verification - is already approaching the police department, one from the opera received instructions from his superiors - the car turned and Yanyshev dovezli almost home.

Political analyst Andrei Saidov said that over the years of Karimov's Constitution has acquired numerous prescribed exceptions and limitations of freedom of expression, which allow officials Obshow any unwanted information threatening the constitutional order or not be disclosed for reasons of State interests.

"Survived those media whose editors were outside the country and before them could not reach, - says journalist Volosevich. - Until 2005, the country has worked more than 100 Western and independent journalists. After the Andijan events the West has introduced some restrictive sanctions, and the Karimov regime began to clamp everything is possible. In 2010, six of the most active journalists summoned to the prosecutor of Tashkent, threatened various punishments. Against all excited criminal case for defamation and insulting the state. One of the six was tried, soldered large fine - 9 or 10 thousand dollars -. For cooperation with the radio "Voice of America", but it caused such an international response that was not against the other ships. "

Political scientist Saidov said that the earlier critics of the regime can "sew" criminal charges because bytovuhi. Who can award a large sum or condemn probation. "In general, for the whole of society is characterized by limiting the information is closedspine. This is due to the state policy and mentality features. Uzbeks are generally ashamed of any publicity, prefer to find a compromise behind closed doors, and outside impose extremely streamlined result ", - explains the analyst.

Import substitution in Uzbek

Uzbek business lives in the same closed doors that and the media. In fact, to negotiate with someone from entrepreneurs, it takes several days. One of those who agree to talk, in the end suddenly catch a cold, the other ceases to answer calls, someone honestly said that he changed his mind. Finally near the hotel I met with representatives of medium-sized businesses, as he calls himself, asking only point that works in the field of trade and services. Long interrogates what exactly will be the text if I substituted him. We sit in the car and drive to the roundabout way inconspicuous cafe. My companion chooses the farthest table and staring intently at the faces of all the members of the cafe.

"Medium-sized businesses can engage in Tashkent. You are welcome. You can open a shop or cafe. To us, for example, come checke often. Any system - check every five years. Naturally, we are ready. I do not understand those who leave from here to Russia and thinks that will sweep the yard and get a thousand bucks. He just does not want to think a head here, not work. Although the state gives to rent the land and fertilizers, "- explains the source, for the thousandth time taking a promise not to mention his name, and even the city where we met. Later I realize that his opinion about the "lazy janitors" - is almost a verbatim quote a speech of Islam Karimov.

Karimov of Uzbekistan relied on import substitution. According to the businessman, the proportion is now between the imported products and local is about 30 by 70. "Another five or seven years ago, these proportions were reversed. We are now producing fertilizer cheaper and no worse than the Europeans. We have ensured the automotive market and the public are given interest-free loans for cars. We cooperate with China and Korea. Foreign investors interested in Uzbekistan ", - confident businessman. He says that the pressure of today's business there. There is an unspoken monopolia state, but in strategic areas so, in his opinion, it is necessary.

"You know, there is a definite problem with the currency conversion. The official exchange rate is now almost two times lower than on the black market. Therefore, those who have the opportunity to buy cheaper and sell more expensive, and they are people from the bureaucracy, feel good, "- he said my interlocutor, once again looked around. The conversation ends almost as soon as the next table sits a young couple.

More talkative those who lost almost everything. And you lose all in Uzbekistan can be one day. And it will not depend on the market, either by exchange rate fluctuations. "I held earlier microbusiness. I had a video rental. The culture house I rented a few square meters under the stairs. Since the 1990s, it was all good, and I made no less than a thousand dollars. This is quite enough to live. But at some point the authorities came and just said that in the afternoon to come here for work and the room must be freed. None of the tenants are not even argue, "- says the former hasbusinessman Oleg.

What is called the business in Uzbekistan - is the sphere of trade, says businesswoman Elena Agibalova. It is over 15 years engaged in trade in the market. A few years ago, she said, she lost everything. Now she was not particularly upset about the fact that it can be someone to eavesdrop, so we meet in a crowded cafe. Rather, a woman, on the contrary, wants to be heard. Under the overpass located marshrutchiki chaotic parking, Exchange wage workers, traders and exchangers samsa. Nearby rub bright Tashkent prostitutes, which is difficult to confuse with ordinary resident of Tashkent.

Agibalova brought a thick package of documents, and at first start rattling off the names of the officials to whom she sought help in vain. Within five minutes of conversation, he boils the head mass of details. "I long ago moved from Russia to the husband. We all went to trade on the market. I went to Russia, to Turkey, brought goods to the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. I was all arranged until it began to change the tax system and the value of tradeki. We changed the curators, offered some new conditions. Each time, tougher and unprofitable, "- says Agibalova. Mechanically fingering with peeling nail polish countless stack of documents.

According to her, at some point the market on the racetrack, where she had several points, began to oversee the people from the Interior Ministry. We began to select "point" on trumped-up pretexts.

"Against me, staged provocation. Some women perpetrated scandal. Police arrived, took away all the goods, without explaining the reasons. I took even a mobile phone. I lost goods on the $ 200 thousand. And for several years I can not get the truth. In the excitement the Uzbek people can not trigger a change of government, but such stories. Now on the market only traders not less than 50 thousand people ", -. Not hide anger Elena Agibalova.

Last way

The fact that Islam Karimov had died, even before the official announcement of this information to users of the Uzbek segment of Facebook said the administrator loyal to the authorities of the "Health Karimov" of the country. He wrote that the apparatus for artificialrovoobrascheniya was disconnected. "I offer my sincere apologies, but I must tell you about it. I'm sorry, I can not keep you in error, knowing the truth ", - reported in the social network.

On the morning of the next day, official sources reported that Karimov in critical condition.

A few hours after the official announcement of the death of the President, in the morning, before sunrise, the residents lined along the main streets of Tashkent. While waiting until they will travel past the funeral procession, they are squeezed into small roses hands. police lined up in front of people. Behind them - people in civilian clothes. President's body had to transport from the hospital and from the airport. From there to deliver a special flight to Samarkand, where he wanted to be buried next to the family and not far from the grave of Tamerlane.

Convinced that the permanent leader is gone, the country began to actively discuss a successor. According to the Constitution in the next three months, the authorities should take over the chairman of the Senate Nigmatulla Yuldashev. However, the fact that he will become the second president of the republic, almost no one in Uzbekistanto not believe. Much more significant, local political analysts estimate the chances Shavkat Mirzijaeva, Rustam Azimov, in charge of financial and economic sphere, and the head of the National Security Service, Rustam Inoyatov.

"When I was asked about a successor, I would like to say that it will be he who will read out the greetings instead Karimov nation on Independence Day. Good thing I did not say anything, because then it would be the new president was to be the speaker of the state television - says political analyst Andrei Saidov. - Now everyone is talking seriously about the candidacy of the current prime minister Mirzijaeva. It seems to me, despite the fact that he was very close to Karimov, in power, he can not stand up. To do this, he is not popular among the people. Karimov, as an authoritative ruler equal beside him could not stand. "

According to Saidov, the last word in determining the shape of Karimov's successor will be for the security forces of the National Security Council - the real power in the country in recent years. "Who today would support the SNB, Rustam Inoyatov, chairman, the, most likely, will be the next president", - the political scientist said to me while we stand with him in the crowdnear the cordon. It shows people in civilian clothes, standing behind a pillar. They behave in a relaxed, joking with the police. Next to them, a tough guy in the tracksuit, which constantly looks around. According to Saidov, these are called "posbon" - the local designation of informants, snitches. I watched with interest "posbon". He carefully scans the grieving people of Tashkent, threw flowers after the departing cortege.