Although we shouldn’t expect anything drastic, Uzbekistan’s next president will likely change some of Islam Karimov’s policies, especially in the economic sphere. Because the country needs financial support and access to new technologies from the West, Uzbekistan may liberalize slightly, demonstrating greater respect for democracy and human rights.
The most likely scenario for eastern Ukraine is that a low-level conflict will continue to simmer. Moscow needs to give up its pipe dream that a pro-Russian government will come to power in Kiev, and forget its convenient but misleading stereotypes about its large neighbor.
In light of Minsk’s strict control over the electoral process, the election of two oppositionists to Belarusian parliament suggests that President Alexander Lukashenko is looking to improve relations with the West. How far will he go?
The struggle to succeed Islam Karimov is heating up. Rustam Inoyatov, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and Rustam Azimov—three of the most powerful men in Uzbekistan—are the leading contenders to assume the throne in Tashkent.
Change is coming to the regimes of Central Asia, with Uzbekistan only the first state to experience a succession crisis. The departure of a long-standing leader can result in regime consolidation, but a struggle for power can also lead to a period of glasnost and democratization.
The Kremlin is using the alleged terrorist plot in Crimea as way of delivering an ultimatum to its Western partners. It’s saying: “You said yourselves that there can be no military solution to the deadlock over Crimea and Donbas, so go ahead and broker a peaceful settlement. If you can’t, Russia reserves the right to make the next move.”
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his administration have increasingly divergent views about reform. Why hasn’t Lukashenko sacked his freethinking ministers? Is “Europe’s last dictatorship” actually liberalizing?
Evidently, most of Uzbekistan’s economic indicators are subject to statistical manipulations, be it a 90 percent voter turnout for presidential elections or refrigerator manufacturing, where a 50-fold increase was reported. In this context, numbers on labor migration out of the country shed more light on the efficiency of Karimov’s economic model than all of his statistical data.
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has contradicted himself several times on the issue of the status of Crimea. His ambiguities have helped him to maintain good relations with both Russia and Ukraine, and to forge a new relationship with the West.
Changes passed in a recent referendum amending Tajikistan’s constitution allow President Emomali Rahmon to run for office an infinite number of times and pave the way for his family to take over the reins of power. The veteran president is adept at protecting his regime and keeping his powerful neighbours at bay.