3 june 2020

Central Asia news

The son of Andijan ex-governor detained in Russia and turned over to the Uzbek authorities

01.08.2007 10:04 msk

Ferghana.Ru news agency

Ferghana Valley Uzbekistan

Well-informed and trustworthy sources claim that the son of Kobiljon Obidov, ex-hokim or governor of the Andijan region of Uzbekistan, was detained on the territory of Russia approximately a month ago and turned over to the Uzbek authorities.

Ulugbek Obidov colloquially known as Shahzoda or Prince was put on the list of wanted criminals as soon as his father, Hero of Uzbekistan Obidov, was relieved of his duties. It is whispered that law enforcement agencies were not the only ones who wanted Prince, that the Uzbek underworld was also after him to settle some old scores. Residents of Andijan could tell a lot of stories about Prince's behavior when his father was running the show. Only a few claim that Ulugbek was a good guy.

Prince's conflict with world champion Muhammadkadyr Abdullayev (boxing) of Andijan fomented probably the worst scandal. Eyewitness reports indicate that the row between them occurred when Prince refused to pay for lunch at the cafe Abdullayev opened following his triumph at the Olympic Games in Sidney in 2000. "You mean you don't know who I am? I'm Prince, the son of the ruler of Andijan," Ulugbek told the boxer to hear his response, "And I'm the son of the ruler of Uzbekistan." (It was a reference to President Islam Karimov who favored Abdullayev.) In short, angry words gave way to blows and Prince got licked. Obidov Jr. sent his men to have a talk with Abdullayev after that. Brandishing metal rods, they battered the boxer into unconsciousness.

The incident stirred all of Uzbekistan but the authorities neither denounced nor confirmed the rumors. Local TV networks in the Ferghana Valley ran a story on Abdullayev showing the Olympic champion, quite well and sound, in the gym. The date on the screen indicated that the footage was shot after the quarrel with he hokim's son. It was probably done to dispel the rumors.

Residents of Andijan meanwhile have other stories to tell about Prince - what he did to young girls, how he punished the drivers with the temerity to overtake his auto, and so on. There were even the rumors that Prince was involved in trafficking. The locals are convinced that it was Prince's behavior and way of life that cost his father his job once the report was made to Karimov himself. On the other hand, people who know what they are talking about claim that the hokim was punished for independence and because he had been considered the best deserving successor to the president.

Ulugbek's arrest was never officially announced. In the meantime, his photos are no longer on the billboards of wanted criminals. The human rights community and other organizations promoting the rights of refugees and political immigrants missed the fact entirely. Some specialists say it was because the operation as such was secret. As a matter of fact, Prince himself must have been keeping a low profile. He must have crawled into a hole only Uzbek secret services could figure out - and eventually did.

Rumors about the Obidovs are winding down in Andijan. It was certainly different right after the hokim's arrest. It was whispered then that men from the town of Khanabad (former Sovetabad, Obidovs' native town) intended to avenge Prince for everything he had done. Not a single Obidov so much as set foot outdoors then.

Obidov was sacked long before the tragic events of May 2005 when hundreds of Andijanis were mowed down by the regular army. Long before or not, it was the ex-hokim who was accused of organization of the revolt. Either the prosecution failed to provide evidence or the respect commanded by the former governor played its part, but the court sentenced him to only a single year imprisonment (sentence suspended). Obidov is under house arrest these days.