The Soviet sub-republic of Uzbekistan became
an independent state when the Soviet Union disbanded in
1991. In a contentious presidential election that year,
former communist leader Islam Karimov won big. He
remained the president of Uzbekistan, with far-reaching
powers, until his death in 2016. All real opposition was
forbidden. Armed Islamist guerrillas began around the
turn of the millennium to try to overthrow the regime.
In May 2005, the riots culminated as the military opened
fire on a crowd in Andizan and many hundreds were
After Islam Karimov declared Uzbekistan independently
on August 31, 1991, he allowed the Communist Party to
transform the People's Democratic Party with himself as
leader. In December of that year, the first direct
presidential election, which Karimov won with 86 percent
of the vote, was held. The only other candidate who was
allowed to stand was the poet Muhammad Solih, leader of
the opposition group Freedom.
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Uzbekistan. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
The same day, in a referendum, Karimov's decision to
proclaim independence was approved. In 1992, Uzbekistan
was given a new constitution which stated that the
country is a secular, democratic republic with an
elected president (see Political system).
In 1992, student ravages broke out in the capital
Tashkent, at the same time as several protesters were
killed in protest actions against price increases and
the government's increasingly tough stance on the
opposition. Regime critics were beaten, arrested and
brought to trial. The leaders of the two opposition
groups Unity and Freedom were abused and forced to flee
While real regime critics went underground or left
the country, new "opposition parties" were formed, which
were in fact support parties to the regime. The ruling
People's Democratic Party won big in the 1994 elections,
but according to foreign observers there were extensive
irregularities. A year later, a referendum was held in
which 99.6 percent of participants approved that
Karimov's tenure be extended to 2000.
Several political prisoners were released in an
amnesty in 1996, when other measures were also taken in
an attempt to improve the country's reputation in the
outside world. Political parties were allowed, provided
they did not stand on religious or ethnic grounds. A
human rights conference was held the same year in
Tashkent, and when Karimov visited the United States, a
former refugee prisoner of conscience was given the
right to return to Uzbekistan.
But soon the pendulum turned again. In 1997, new
riots arose in the Fergana Valley, leading to harsh
convictions against Muslim activists. Two years later,
at least 15 people were killed in an explosion in
Tashkent. The attack was followed by six death sentences
and 14 long prison sentences for attempted murder on
Karimov. In 1999, the suspected leader of the banned
Islamist movement was also arrested the Islamic
Liberation Party, which had attracted many unemployed
youth in the Fergana Valley.
In the 1999 parliamentary elections, the People's
Democratic Party became the largest again, and in 2000
President Karimov was re-elected for a new five-year
The guerrilla group Uzbekistan's Islamic Movement (IMU)
made raids from Afghanistan via Tajikistan in 1999 and
2000 into the Fergana Valley with the goal of
overthrowing the regime and establishing an Islamic
state. The raids created tension throughout the region
and in early 2001, Central Asian leaders held a crisis
meeting to wage a joint fight against the IMU (see
Foreign Policy and Defense).
Following the terrorist attacks against the United
States on September 11, 2001, Uzbekistan was given a key
role in the US-led war against the Taliban regime in
Afghanistan. The Taliban and Saudi terrorist leader
Usama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network had supported the IMU,
which had bases inside Afghanistan. Karimov left Uzbek
territory for the US-led forces that drove the Taliban
Massacre in Andizhan
The cooperation with the US strengthened Karimov's
position abroad, while at the same time the eyes of the
world were directed at the regime's oppression of
dissent. It may have contributed to Uzbek policemen
being sentenced in 2002 to prison for the death row
abuse of prisoners.
That same year, Karimov presented a proposal to
extend his own term of office from five to seven years
and to extend Parliament to two chambers. The proposal
was approved by a large majority in a referendum.
In 2004, Uzbekistan was shaken by a series of blast
attacks and firefights that cost around 50 people.
Several of the deaths were committed by suicide bombers.
An outbreak group from the IMU guerrilla - the Union of
Islamist jihad - took on the death. About 20 people were
sentenced to prison for up to 18 years for the attacks.
The tense situation in the Fergana Valley culminated
in May 2005 when the military opened fire on several
thousand protesters in the city of Andizhan. According
to the regime, 187 people were killed, but eyewitnesses
and human rights groups stated the number of victims to
at least 500.
In November 2005, 15 men were sentenced to prison for
14-20 years for participation in the protests in
Andizhan. The trials were referred to as judicial
proceedings and claims were raised on an international
investigation. By the end of the year, over 150 people
had been sentenced in partially secretive trials for
alleged crimes in connection with the Andizan violence.
There were no military or security police among the
Contrary to the Constitution, President Karimov was
re-elected for a third time in December 2007.
Parliamentary elections in December 2009 and January
2010 were preceded by human rights groups by new
proposals against oppositionists. Assessors considered
that the election was used by the regime to give the
impression that there was multi-party democracy in
Uzbekistan. The OSCE sent only a few election observers,
as it considered it pointless to send any large group.
Regime-loyal parties won as expected a big victory.
By now, the Karimov family had developed into a
political dynasty. A small elite linked to the family
decided how power, wealth and business opportunities
should be distributed. President's daughter Gulnara
Karimova has long appeared as a possible successor to
The fall of the president's daughter
However, Karimova was accused of using the family's
power to crush competitors in business. From 2012, she
was linked to a series of corruption scandals, including
one in which the telecom company TeliaSonera was
involved. The companies paid large sums to Karimova and
her circle to gain access to the Uzbek market.
In 2013, Karimova fell out of favor and lost her
influence. Her TV channels were closed and an
investigation into financial crime was launched against
her media company. She herself accused the security
services chief of wanting to crush her.
In 2014, Karimova was placed under house arrest and a
criminal investigation against her was initiated.
Several of her closest associates were sentenced to long
prison sentences for extensive financial crime. In
December 2017, Gulnara Karimova was sentenced to ten
years in prison for corruption. The sentence was
converted in July 2018 to five years in house arrest,
but in March the following year, she was returned to
prison after violating the house arrest rules.
A new presidential election was held in March 2015.
Since Karimova was out of the game, and no other clear
heir to Karimov had appeared, Karimov was once again
elected presidential candidate. He was nominated by the
Liberal Democratic Party, which gradually took over the
role of state-bearing party from the People's Democratic
Party. As expected, he won by and large his fourth
straight presidential election - completely contrary to
the constitution that only allows one re-election.
Military agreement with Russia
Uzbekistan signs agreement with Russia on closer military cooperation.
Jail sentences for riots
Fifteen people are sentenced to 14 to 20 years in prison for being behind the
riots in Andizan in May of that year. The convictions of the convicted are
believed to have been enforced through torture. In the autumn, another 58 people
are sentenced to long prison sentences after secret trials.
EU sanctions against Uzbekistan
The EU is imposing sanctions on Uzbekistan, including, among other things,
arms embargo and a ban on entry into the Union for a series of high-ranking
Uzbeks. The sanctions will be phased out gradually in 2008 and 2009.
Cooperation agreement with the US is terminated
President Islam Karimov (1991–) terminates the military cooperation agreement
with the United States. The US soldiers are forced within six months to leave
the military base in Khanabad (Xonobod) which they used for operations into
Hundreds of protesters are shot to death
Andizian prison is stormed by armed men who release all prisoners, including
the extremist-accused small businessmen. Regimental-critical demonstrations
erupt, and police and military kill an estimated hundreds of protesters as they
shoot straight at the crowd.
Pointed Islamists in court
A number of small business owners are facing trial in the city of Andizhan
(Andijon), accused of membership in Islamist extremist groups.