An Uzbek PM on Facebook; A funny fantasy or for real?
Media and Internet, Politics and Society, Uzbekistan11 Comments
Have you gotten a “Friend Request” from O’zbekiston Respublikasi Bosh vaziri, Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev on Facebook yet? His personal page has 1,818 Friends, explains him to be a 100% Conservative believer in Islam, interested in Women and Married, inspired by various Westerners politicians and so on. There are even some professional photos, both uploaded and tagged, on his profile. But is this all real?
To debate this – weather or not Mirziyoyev’s Facebook page is actually authentic – is pretty silly and ridiculous, considering Uzbekistan is a country whose press freedom and online activity regulations especially in terms of political interactions, are far from socially free and enjoyable… but lets enjoy examining the suspicious question of “to be (a real Facebook page) or not to be” anyway.
Eurasianet.org raises an interesting point, regarding changing leadership roles in Uzbek politics:
“Why would the prime minister make a page now? Perhaps, in a bid to become President Islam Karimov’s successor, he wants to improve his image and even show himself to be something of a “liker” of Western philosophies at a time when there is an emerging partnership with the United States and the European Union.”
Just the other day, neweurasia’s Mansurhon informed about the “sexy new topic of talk” surfacing in Uzbekistan, regarding elections. Uzbekistan’s Parliament is seeking a change in Article 90 of the Constitution, wherein the length of the Presidency would be reduced from seven years to five. So, since come 2014 – someone new is bound to take center stage in Uzbek politics, is this supposed Facebook page a method of early and strategized campaigning?
Eurasianet.org notices Mirziyoyev’s online inspirations:
“From the Facebook page, you can see that Mirziyoyev is inspired by Nicolas Sarkozy, Lee Myung-bak, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and last but not least — or maybe last and therefore least? — Islam Karimov.”
Yes, Facebook attracts a Western crowd, and thus the importance of whoever-this-pages’-administrator is for creating an online international image to be seen in comparison with other international powers (who actually recognize the positive political power of social media, unlike authorities in Uzbekistan). But, what about a local and online Uzbek crowd? Does Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev also have a personal page on Uzbekistan’s exclusive social network “Muloqot.uz” – or is “He” strictly sticking to Western social networks? You probably guessed right – No, Mirziyoyev does not have a profile on Muloqot.
neweurasia contacted the Prime Minster’s office to check whether the page was authentic or a knockoff and the latter seem to be the case (not surprisingly). And also, the real office of the real Mirziyoyev said Facebook denied their request to remove the page. Is this really surprising? Not really, because Facebook – unlike media outlets in Uzbekistan – believe in freedom of speech and expression.
So, are you convinced yet that this is not the real Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev online, but just his Facebook-wannabe?