At the end of August, President Islam Karimov, who through an iron fist ruled Uzbekistan for a quarter of century since its independence, suddenly passed away with no named heir. Almost half of the country’s population, the most populous nation in Central Asia, has known no other leader than Karimov. The late president leaves his former Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyaev, the de facto head of the Samarkand Clan, now as acting president with a relatively weak hand to manage this geopolitically pivotal state’s domestic politics and its relations with its two main suitors, Russia and China.
A competition for power
Will Uzbekistan pivot to Russia? While Moscow may be a less attractive economic partner than Beijing, the lower costs of a deeper economic relationship with Russia than with China may push Mirziyaev closer to PutinAndrew J. Bowen