Protest action in the mutinous city
Almost one hundred women, residents of Andizhan (Uzbekistan) organized a protest action yesterday. Cradling their kids, some of them blocked the city highways protesting against absence of gas and electric powers in their homes. The police did not interfere.
Novye Izvestia approached Ural Sharipov of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences for comments.
"The situation in Uzbekistan is tricky," the expert said. "There are two factors that should be taken into account. The first boils down to the colossal gap between the poor and the wealthy and between living standards in Uzbekistan and in other countries of the Commonwealth. In fact, prosperity in Uzbekistan amounts to only one tenth of its value in Russia. An average pension in Uzbekistan is but $10-15 while prices in this country do not differ from the ones in Russia that much. Unemployment is the other factor. A lot of Uzbeks seek jobs in other CIS countries, and first and foremost in Russia to support their families."
"The Andizhan region is the weakest link in all of Uzbekistan and first and foremost because of it is densely populated," Sharipov continued. "No jobs are to be found there for love or money. Enterprises of the Soviet era are but insolvent derelicts. Instead of trying to solve socioeconomic problems of the region, the authorities take harsh measures and brand protesters against the policy of the state as extremists or terrorists. In the meantime, domestic conflicts in Uzbekistan are mostly fomented by unsolved social problems."
WOMEN SEIZED ANDIZHAN
Novye Izvestia, January 24, 2006, p. 4