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December 31, 2004

The Tech Central Station Ring of the Clown Show

Is bloodthirsty Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov a client of the DCI Group lobbying operation? The latest from Tech Central Station makes me think that it is. Otherwise, this is completely inexplicable. Justin Logan has the goods:

JustinLogan.com: Our Man in Uzbekistan: Demonstrating that strategery isn't their only weakness, Steven Schwartz shows that neocons can be just as immoral as realists:

As I write, on December 29, the results of the Uzbek vote are both incomplete and controversial. The allocation of seats to the various parties, including the ruling National Democratic Party of President Islom Karimov, has yet to be announced, and functionaries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), have declared the balloting insufficiently democratic. But the OSCE inspires little confidence in such matters. For myself, I have witnessed several years of OSCE meddling and mismanagement of the promised transitions to democracy in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Kosovo, and do not perceive the OSCE as possessing moral standing to issue such criticisms.

At the same time, while observing the Uzbek elections, I was reminded of earlier chapters in the history of post-Communist democratization. Whether the OSCE was satisfied or not, ordinary Uzbeks lined up enthusiastically to cast their votes on a multipage paper ballot. Meanwhile, the Uzbek authorities made extensive preparations to accommodate foreign journalists, who did not show up in substantial numbers.

Now, wait a minute, who's the bad guy here?  Well, the OSCE, of course.  Schwartz is right to criticize the OSCE and its observer missions, but they deserve to be criticized for being too soft on despotic regimes, not too tough! Their previous and numerous failures to stand up to Russian chicanery in places like Moldova are indeed regrettable, though the institution is showing signs of healing. But Schwartz, for his part, paints Karimov as the good guy, who is regrettably being shoved around by those bastards from the OSCE.  Schwartz, who I'm not sure speaks one word of either Uzbek or Russian, might want to apply for a job as a CIS election observer.  Or maybe he can find himself a foreign patron to fund these little propaganda missions of his.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Salih, reporting from exile in Europe, gives the real scoop on the elections:

Uzbek voters knew absolutely nothing. They did not know who to vote for because they did not have any information about the candidates running for parliament. Everything was shrouded in mystery, except the fact that all parties in the race had been founded by state authorities.

Another curious aspect of the Dec. 26 elections was that they were held under an artificial state of emergency. Particular attention was paid to the Ferghana Valley, Bukhara and Samarkand. Ten days before the elections, troops from the Interior Ministry, the Defense Ministry and the National Security Service began regular patrols of these regions. Security forces took full control of all city mosques and public places, supposed potential sites for terrorist attacks. Operations to detain "extremist elements" also took place. So-called suspicious persons were brought into local police stations and booked, or were simply arrested on the spot. These included political activists calling for a boycott of the elections. Arrests occurred across Uzbekistan, and human rights activists and opposition party members were followed, put under house arrest and not allowed to register at the polls, even though the main opposition parties, Erk and Birlik, had been excluded from the race.

There was one person, however, who seemed happy with the elections, namely Vladimir Rushailo, who led the observer mission from the Commonwealth of Independent States. He was so pleased with things that he flew off to Kiev before the polls had even closed. For once, everything went off just as Russia had hoped.

Check out what the evildoers at the OSCE had to report, and Karimov's attempt to spin it...

Posted by DeLong at December 31, 2004 08:33 AM

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Wait, they had a "multipage paper ballot"? Sounds like democracy to me!

Posted by: JakeV at December 31, 2004 09:14 AM

Presumably the larger agenda here is to justify the Iraqi elections which will apparently be held in much the same way (right down to not knowing who is being voted for because the names are being held secret "for security reasons" see http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/12/31/11354/797).

This is a pre-emptive at European and other such spoilers who are going to be telling the world the day after Iraqi elections just what a farce they were.

Posted by: Maynard Handley at December 31, 2004 01:20 PM

To a neocon, "democracy" equals "elections". They had an election, so they must be democratic! Or at least on the road to democracy.

Just like Iraq.

Posted by: General Glut at December 31, 2004 01:48 PM

After spending five years in Uzbekistan, I can say that the OSCE was absolutely right not to even send observers to watch this farce. Five years ago (the last election go-around), the US begged the OSCE not to observe - and the situation has only gotten worse for human rights since then.

The sad thing about this story is that until 9/11 the US had human rights as a top priority in bilateral relations with the country. After securing an airbase in the country to conduct the military operations in Afghanistan, the US allowed the Karimov regime carte blanche to carry out whatever it fancied - suppressing both democratic and Islmaic opposition with even greater zeal than it had done before (and given the zeal with which they were repressing before makes the kind of violence the regime is using to repress the opposition on PAR with saddam hussein). Now Karimov knows the US will ignore its abuses. Just another example of how Bush is "making the world safe for democracy".

Many of us had great hopes for democracy in the region with the increased attention to the remote 'stans after 9/11 - but to no avail. Should we be frightened or encouraged that the only light of hope for democracy in the region comes from Afghanistan (something completely unimaginable five years ago)?

Posted by: Ghisht at December 31, 2004 05:10 PM

[another comment spam makes it through]

Posted by: at January 6, 2005 03:13 AM

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