Unrest in Uzbekistan: 6 Month Outlook (JULY 2022)


    Last week, violence protests erupted in Uzbekistans restive Karakalpakstan region. The central government attempted to amend provisions of the constitution which provide a right of secession to the autonomous region. Uzbek security forces moved to disperse the demonstrations, killing 18 and wounding several hundred [source]. The separatist government of Karakalpakstan claims that the true number of killed and injured is far higher than the official toll [source]. It also rejects the government’s accusation that protesters were violent and under the influence of narcotics [source]. Historical mistreatment by the central government and the ecological catastrophe left in the wake of the Aral Sea’s disappearance is aggravating tensions in Karakalpakstan [source].

    KJ-1: It is highly likely that Uzbek security forces will successfully suppress pro-secessionist forces in Karakalpakstan in the next 6 months. 

    • The demonstrations which erupted in the regional capital of Nukus compelled the central government to scrap the plans to curtail the regions autonomy [source]. 
    • The government accuses unspecified foreign elements of backing the protesters as well as providing them with narcotics [source].   
    • Even after President Mirziyoyev announced the suspension of the government’s plans, protests continued [source].
    • Troops were deployed to Nukus and are now patrolling the streets of the regional capital. Uzbek security forces arrested over 500 people [source]. 
    • President Mirziyoyev announced a month-long state of emergency. These military curfews have largely pacified the situation in Nukus [source].

    KJ-2: It is unlikely that the central government will reintroduce plans to curtail the region’s autonomy in the next 6 months. 

    • In an attempt to quell the unrest, authorities released a prominent Karakalpak journalist from detention. He was subsequently rearrested [source]. 
    • Russia is unwilling to deploy peacekeeping forces to Uzbekistan as it did in Kazakhstan in 2021 [source].
    • The Kremlin regards the unrest in Karakalpakstan as an internal issue of Uzbekistan [source]. 
    • Uzbekistan is not a member of the CSTO and consequently has to rely on its security services to maintain order [source]. 
    • President Mirziyoyev sacked key governments officials he deems responsible for sparking the unrest with unpredictable and aggressive policies at the regional level [source].
    • Moreover, Uzbekistan is mounting a sustained public relations campaign targeting US Republican Congressmen [source].

    KJ-3: It is unlikely that pro-secessionist forces in Karakalpakstan will carry out significant political activity in Karakalpakstan in the next 6 months.

    • As late as 2015, the leader of the Karakalpak ‘government in exile’, Aman Sagidullaev, was in Kyrgyzstan [source]. 
    • The separatist government largely relocated to Norway from Kyrgyzstan in 2019 [source]. 
    • This was due to the improvement of relationships between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan after the death of Islam Karimov [source]. 
    • Kyrgyzstan cooperates with Tashkent on arresting and deporting Uzbek political dissidents and journalists [source]. 
    • Karakalpaks were generally integrated into the regional and central political structures in the last decade [source], [source]. 
    • Moreover, intervention from the security services has minimized clashes between disparate ethnic groups [source], [source]. 
    • As such, separatism does not enjoy universal support in Karakalpakstan [source]. 
    • Support for separatism seems to be divided along generational lines [source].

    Intelligence Cut-Off Date: July 21, 2022

    Alec Smith
    Alec Smith
    Alec Smith is a graduate of the MSC International Relations program of the University of Aberdeen and holds an LLB in Global Law from Tilburg University. He works in the private sector in field investigations and security.

    Table of contents


    Get the weekly email from Grey Dynamics that makes reading intel articles and reports actually enjoyable. Join our mailing list to stay in the loop for free!

    Related contents

    Subscribe to our Newsletter!
    I agree to receive the latest emails
    and offers from Grey Dynamics.
    not Information
    Subscribe Now
    Subscribe to our Newsletter!
    I agree to receive the latest emails
    and offers from Grey Dynamics.
    not Information
    Subscribe Now
    Learn to create professional videos and have fun in the process of creating videos.
    Video Review And Collaboration.
    Get Started