Breaking with the past?

New Series Reveals Uzbekistan Reforms Haunted by Bad Habits of the Past

Power Briefs | Central Asia is a new series pub­lished by the University of Ulster and the Corruption and Human Rights Initiative (CHRI).

It draws on the pow­er of data sci­ence to scru­ti­nise the integri­ty of mar­kets and gov­ern­ments in Central Asia.

Issue one focus­es on the Akfa-Artel busi­ness group and its founder Jahongir Artikhodjaev, Mayor of Tashkent. This case study is used in order to place a foren­sic lens over the reform process under­way in Uzbekistan.

A Russian lan­guage sum­ma­ry is avail­able here via Open Democracy.

An Uzbek lan­guage sum­ma­ry is avail­able here via El-Tuz.

Podcast intro­duc­tion by the report’s author is avail­able here.

Issue One “Breaking with the Past: Conflicts of Interest and Transparency in Mirziyoyev’s Uzbekistan”

The report’s author Professor Kristian Lasslett argues ‘the dev­il is always in the detail, you have to exam­ine with a fine tooth comb the every­day trans­ac­tions of gov­ern­ment and busi­ness in order to reli­ably deter­mine whether there is seri­ous con­tent under­pin­ning pol­i­cy statements’.

The study finds while there are laud­able exam­ples of greater open­ness in gov­ern­ment and busi­ness, the bad habits of the past con­tin­ue to stymy reforms.

We have here a major, polit­i­cal­ly exposed busi­ness group­ing [Akfa-Artel group] in receipt of sig­nif­i­cant state aid over­seen by the Mayor of Tashkent, which oper­ates opaque off­shore struc­tures cen­tred large­ly in the United Kingdom, admin­is­tered in some instances by indi­vid­u­als impli­cat­ed in extreme­ly shady prac­tices’, Professor Lasslett observes.

Image: Figure 1 in the report details opaque off­shore vehi­cles linked to Akfa-Artel select­ed by gov­ern­ment to invest in the US$1.3 bil­lion Tashkent City prop­er­ty devel­op­ment over­seen by the Mayor.

On a num­ber of notable high val­ue instances this state aid is pro­vid­ed with­out an open ten­der or clear selec­tion cri­te­ria. At least we think, attempts to obtain infor­ma­tion on gov­ern­ment deci­sions proved impos­si­ble despite admirable free­dom of infor­ma­tion laws’, Professor Lasslett adds.

Issue one of Power Briefs makes a series of rec­om­men­da­tions for strength­en­ing the reform process in Uzbekistan, includ­ing increased pub­lic, fis­cal and cor­po­rate trans­paren­cy, the use of open, com­pet­i­tive ten­der­ing process­es, the ces­sa­tion of opaque awards of state aid, greater pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion, and more pre­scrip­tive pro­ce­dure for man­ag­ing con­flicts of interest.



Professor Kristian Lasslett dis­cuss­es the reports key find­ings.

Professor Kristian Lasslett
T: +44 28 9036 6248