Interior Minister Resigns, Andijan Trials Continue
Curiouser and curiouser. Zokir Almatov has reportedly resigned as interior minister. Fergana.ru hails the departed minister thus:
Even when Almatov privately disagreed with some orders, he was soldier enough to carry them out first and discuss them later. And that is how things are supposed be done.
Attempts are made nowadays to pin the blame for what happened in Andizhan on Almatov. That’s a wrong approach because a soldier ordered to open up is first and foremost compelled to do so by the oath of loyalty. Emotions can wait until later, until old age and pension…”
The RFE/RL story states that Almatov’s replacement, Anvar Salihbaev, is one of the Uzbek officials on the EU’s visa blacklist (I assume the list is being amended). Salihbaev was also part of the tranche of Uzbek ambassadors who were recalled in the recent diplomatic reshuffle.
Interestingly, back in November defence minister Kadyr Gulyamov, also on the EU’s list of “we don’t like your sort around here”, was similarly cast out on his ear. Gulyamov’s successor, Ruslan Mirzaev, is also blacklisted by the EU.
Meanwhile, in the past two days nearly 80 people have been given sentences of 10-20 years for their involvement in the Andijon evenements. Incredibly, amongst other defendants are Uzbek officials and police accused of negligence in failing to deal with the initial jailbreak which triggered the tragic chain of events.
Sentiment on the ground seems clear: the SNB is getting away scot-free whilst others are scape-goated.