November 28-December 5, 1998
  1. Uzbekistan to launch privatisation drive in '99

  2. President's announces amnesty for Constitution Day

  3. New minister of communal services appointed

  4. Moscow denies fomenting strife between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan

  5. Karimov denies his country's involvement in Tajik mutiny

  6. President says Tajiks stoking row over rebels

  7. Kyrgyz President to discuss gas debt in Uzbekistan

  8. Akaev negotiates Uzbek gas exports

  9. Minimum wages in Uzbekistan increased

  10. President meets Russian governor

  11. Japanese vice-speaker in Uzbekistan

  12. Uzbek-Turkish JV to produce meat

  13. Tashkent to improve sanitary situation

  14. Report on traffic accidents

  15. Human story on long-lived people

  Uzbekistan to launch privatisation drive in '99
  Uzbekistan, hungry for foreign investment, will begin privatising many of its largest state companies next year, an official said on Wednesday. "From 1999, the government of Uzbekistan will begin selling off shares in companies involved in the basic sectors of the economy, and will do so with the participation of international consultants," a State Privatisation Committee official said. The cabinet had approved an order aimed at speeding up foreign investment through privatisation, he told Reuters. The former Soviet state has been slow in opening up its economy, allowing only a handful of Western firms to invest in some projects in the car making, gold and tobacco sectors. Discouraged by foreign exchange controls, foreign investors have been slow to pursue projects in the mostly farm state of 23 million people. The prize assets among the 30 companies set to go under the hammer in the next two years include a 46.5 percent stake in the Almalyk Metallurgical Plant copper producer, which could raise up to $400 million for state coffers. Almalyk, and companies such as the Tashkent Aviation Production Co, the National Bank of Foreign Economic Activity and the Uzkabel cable plant would be offered in 1999. In 2000, the sell-off list includes the Uzmetkombinat metallurgical plant, the Fergana oil refinery, Tashkent airport, the Elektrokhimprom chemicals group in Chirchik and the Kyzylkum Phosphorous Combine. The stakes in the 30 firms-- which would be valued by Western consultants-- will be sold off one by one, with shares of between 25 and 50 percent on offer. The government order includes a list of another 159 medium and large firms whose shares would be sold to foreigners on the stock and over-the-counter markets. Another 69 medium-sized companies would be sold off wholesale through tenders and investment transactions in 1999 and 2000, the state order said.
  President announces amnesty on Constitution Day
  President Karimov's special decree announced amnesty before the forthcoming December 8 Constitution Day, which is a national holiday. It has become a tradition to proclaim amnesty on Constitution and Independence (September 1) Days. Prisoners who are women over 60, World War Two participants, minors, first and second group disabled persons, inmates convicted up to three years and those, convicted up to five years, who have served a quarter of their sentence term will be entitled to the amnesty and freed.
  President appoints new minister of communal services
  President Islam Karimov dismissed long-ruling minister of communal services Viktor Mihaylov and appointed Gafur Muhamedov instead. In the last three months the president dismissed three vice-premiers, three ministers and two governors. Sources in the government say that this is not the end of the anti-corruption campaign yet.
  FSB denies allegations about Russia's trace in conflict
  The Russian government today dismissed allegations that its secret services provoked a recent confrontation between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, two ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia. On Monday, Uzbek President Islam Karimov accused the Russian Federal Security Service, the KGB's main successor, of fomenting a recent dispute between his nation and neighboring Tajikistan. The dispute centered on an anti-government rebellion last month in Tajikistan, which was put down after several days of fighting that claimed 334 lives. Tajik authorities accused Uzbekistan of helping train the rebels, commanded by former Col. Makhmud Khudoberdyev, and harboring them after their defeat. Uzbekistan has denied the claims. Karimov claimed a Russian secret service officer, an ethnic Tajik, fomented the uprising. The security service acknowledged that the officer, Rizo Tursunov, is an agent but said he had no role in the incident. "Any claims about the Russian secret services' involvement in the exacerbation of the Uzbek-Tajik relations are absolutely groundless," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement. Tajikistan, an impoverished nation reeling from several years of civil war, has been plagued by frequent clashes despite a peace deal signed last year by the Russian-backed hard-line government and the mostly Islamic opposition. "Our efforts are aimed at consistent support of national reconciliation and ensuring peace" in Tajikistan, the Russian foreign ministry said. "Russia isn't pursuing any other interests in the region."
  "Uzbekistan isn't involvement in Tajik mutiny"
  Uzbek President Islam Karimov made an official statement on Monday denying his country having a hand in the recent armed mutiny in Tajikistan. "Uzbekistan has nothing to do with the armed mutiny, headed by Makhmud Khudoiberdyev, in the north of Tajikistan," Karimov told reporters following a working visit to Uzbekistan by Kirghiz leader Askar Akayev. Karimov emphasized that a statement by Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov about Uzbekistan's involvement in the recent events had nothing to do with the reality. That is the first time the Uzbek president has made an official statement about the mutiny.
  Karimov says Tajiks stoking row over rebels
  Uzbek President Islam Karimov on Monday accused forces close to Tajik leader Imomali Rakhmonov of trying to derail relations between the Central Asian neighbours. The former Communist boss also slammed Russian secret service members for provoking anti-Uzbek sentiment following an armed uprising in northern Tajikistan earlier this month when over 300 people died. "Some of the forces around Rakhmonov, a clan, want very much to bring the course of events to an international, inter-governmental conflict," Karimov said. Karimov also said Rakhmonov's comment that the Uzbek leadership helped to plot the revolt, which he described as an attempted coup, was the result of "hysteria." Tajik rebel forces, led by an ethnic Uzbek, launched an assault on the Tajik region of Leninabad, accusing Rakhmonov's government of genocide against ethnic Uzbeks. There was no immediate comment from Tajik authorities. Karimov said some of Russia's forces of 20,000, patrolling its leaky borders with Tajikistan and monitoring a 1997 ceasefire between the secular government and Islamic opposition, were involved in the provocation. "Helping them in this provocation are some Russian secret service troops." Karimov said he did not see any involvement in the provocation by Russian President Boris Yeltsin or Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. Karimov, who has led his nation of 24 million with an iron fist since Soviet times, said the border with Tajikistan would be strengthened as a result of the events and that a visa regime could be introduced. The incident and subsequent recriminations have driven a wedge between the two neighbouring states after they had shown signs of willingness to unite against the spread of Islamic fundamentalism from Afghanistan, which borders them both.
  Akaev to discuss gas debt in Uzbekistan
  Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev will leave for Uzbekistan on Monday on a one-day working visit for negotiations on the Uzbek gas supply to Kyrgyzstan. The president plans to convince the Uzbek authorities of the need to ease conditions of the gas supply in 1999 and solve problems of the Kyrgyz gas debt, General Director of the Kyrgyzenergo energy company Bakirdin Sartkaziyev told Itar-Tass on Sunday. Kyrgyzstan does not have its own gas stock and fully depends on imports from adjoining Uzbekistan at a price of 55 dollars per one thousand cubic meters of gas. The president plans to propose a 20 percent cut of the gas price in Tashkent, Sartkaziyev noted. Kyrgyzstan "would like to pay 70 percent of the gas debt to Uzbekistan with foods and commodities," he remarked. Under the previous agreement, it paid 50 percent in hard currency and 50 percent with foods and commodities. By November 1998 the debt amounted to 33 million dollars, and Uzbekistan threatened to stop the gas supply in case the debt was not paid by December 1. Sartkaziyev hopes that "mutual understanding will be reached in Tashkent." Kyrgyzstan also plans to look for alternative gas sources. Back on November 25 Kyrgyz Prime Minister Kubanychbek Zhumaliyev had negotiations with the Russian government on a possibility of the gas supply by Gazprom in exchange to Kyrgyz commodities. The Russian government promised to consider the proposal, sources at the Kyrgyz governmental department for relations with the CIS told Itar-Tass. According to department head Kasym Isayev, "the gas could be supplied from Uzbekistan in payment of its debt to Russia." A possible gas supply from Turkmenistan with the assistance of Russian Gazprom is considered as well.
  Akaev negotiates Uzbek gas exports
  Kirgiz President Askar Akayev in Monday visits Tashkent, Uzbekistan's capital, for one-day talks on Uzbek gas exports to Kirgizstan. The director of Kirgizenergo company, Bakirdin Sartkaziyev, told Itar-Tass that the Akayev wants to negotiate softer terms of Uzbekistan's gas deliveries in 1999 and solve the issue of Kirgizstan's gas debt. Kirgizstan has no gas fields and imports all its gas from Uzbekistan at 55 dollars for 1,000 cubic metres. Sartkaziyev said the Kirgiz side would bargain for a 20 per cent lower price at the talks in Tashkent. He said Kirgizstan "would want to repay to Uzbekistan 70 per cent of the gas debt with goods and food". Under an earlier contract, Kirgizstan pays 50 per cent of its debt in the hard currency and 50 per cent in commodities and food. Kizrgizstan's gas debt to Uzbekistan has totalled 3.3 million dollars by November, and the Uzbek side warned that it would stop gas deliveries unless the monetary part of the debt is cleared by December 1. Sartkaziyev said he expected that an "understanding will be found" at the Tashkent talks. However, Kirgizstan will look for alternative gas imports. Prime Minister Kubanychbek Zhumaliev on November 25 held talks in Moscow with the Russian government on Gazprom's gas exports in exchange for Kirgiz commodities, a spokesman at the Kirgiz governmental department in charge with CIS contacts told Itar-Tass. The spokesman said the Russian government promised to consider the deal. Department chief Kasym Isayev said "the gas supplies could come to the republic from Uzbekistan against the debt of this country to Russia." Another considered option is Turkmenistan's gas exports to Kirgizstan with assistance from Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom.
  Minimum wages in Uzbekistan increased
  The President issued a decree this week announcing the indexation of wages by 1.2-fold beginning January 1, 1999. Last time wages were increased on July followed by the immediate increase of prices. There is no doubt that prices this time will rise even before people will get their increased salaries. So the new minimum salary in Uzbekistan will be 1,320 soums that is 12 dollars at the Central Bank rate or 3.5 dollars at the unofficial rate.
  President meets Russian governor
  President Karimov met with visiting governor of the Russian Orenburg oblast Vladimir Yelagin. Uzbekistan has had fruitful cooperation with this part of Russia. Orenburg is even one of the major partners of Uzbekistan among CIS oblasts. For the past nine months the trade turnover was 5.6 million dollars. Orenburg maintains direct contacts with Uzbekistan's Samarkand, Bukhara, Kashkadarya, Andijan and Khorezm regions. There are ten Uzbek companies operating in Orenburg that manufacture commodity goods and do assembling and maintenance works in the energy sector. Mr. Yelagin said that he came to Uzbekistan to make more contacts and expand the economic cooperation with the regions of Uzbekistan.
  Japanese vice-speaker in Uzbekistan
  A parliamentary delegation from Japan led by its vice-speaker Kozo Watanabe was received at the Oliy Majlis by Chairman Erkin Khalilov. The speaker of the Uzbek parliament told the visiting guests about existing laws and said he was glad to expand relations with the Japanese parliament. Both sides spoke about the cooperation of the Oliy Majlis with European and Asian states. They discussed ways to create laws that are applicable in a democratic society. The Japanese delegation was then given a tour inside the Oliy Majlis.
  Uzbek-Turkish JV to produce meat
  The consumption of meat in Uzbekistan is way lesser than in Europe or America and the Uzbek State Company for poultry production is to blame for the poor work. However there are some private companies that are trying to minimize the shortage. An Uzbek-Turkish joint venture Golden Wing has a poultry farm in Bostanlyk. To be more correct they re-equipped and improved the existing state farm by investing two million dollars. During one year of the company's operation they have sold 600 tons of meat. Their target for the next two years is 3 and 15 thousand tons of meat sale respectively. The company also has a Golden Wing restaurant in the center of Tashkent which serves meals from their own products.
  Tashkent Mayor's Office tries to save the environment
  Seems like the city officials have found a way to make the environment cleaner. The capital as well as other cities have suffered from the shortage of public refuse-bins and garbage boxes and transportation to convey them. As a result 600 garbage trucks, which is a quite small number for Tashkent, wouldn't cope with the four and a half thousand tons of everyday wastes that would be stockpiled for several days causing infectious diseases like hepatitis and making streets look bad. Now in Tashkent neighborhoods you can see special fenced public dumps with dozens of plastic waste-bins produced locally for specific kinds of waste. A guard will watch after the bins and will make sure that people are using them for appropriate garbage. Currently there are 178 such dumps in the city and additional 550 are expected to be produced soon. This project cost the city budget around 12 to 15 million dollars.
  Traffic accidents happen fewer
  A traffic security commission under the Cabinet of Ministers held its meeting and made a report. In the past ten months over 8 thousand and a half traffic accidents occurred in the country killing almost one thousand six hundred people. These figures are smaller than those last year, but even the death of one person is never little. The commission spoke about improving the work of traffic security services, whose negligence may let a drunk driver commit a crime. In 83 accidents truck drivers hit people driving while intoxicated.
  Human story about long-lived people
  People have always wondered what the secret of long-life was. In an attempt to reveal this secret, I met with a handful of old people who crossed the 100-year mark. Healthy environment, prosperous economy, high-living standards and advanced medicine are definitely the main factors of long-life, but most of the people I met said that hard-work was the secret of their century of life. 106-year-old Zulayho Khojanazarova is five years older than her neighbor Haitova Aqiloy. The two friends and neighbors havent seen each other for such a long time, that when they met they were surprised to see each other still alive. They have lots of descendants who take care of them. In Uzbek traditions the sons wife has to look after his parents. The 111-year-old grannys 75-year-old daughter-in-law is still with her husbands parents. The two neighbors said that they had worked in a collective farm and had always competed with each other. Even now they seemed to be competing to outlive one another. The 111-year-old Qodirqul Pirimqulovs grandchildren study overseas. The old man says hes never been outside of his neighbourhood and has spent his life working hard and growing cotton and grain in a collective farm. He wishes he had been born now, because he believes that Independence brought great possibilities for young people. What is a dream for most people is the reality for these individuals. And we would think that they have all the reasons to be happy. However, it is not always the case. 116 year-old Mother Turgunoy didnt seem to be excited from long-life. She outlived all of her eight children and despite a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren she feels lonely. The happiest of all was Lutfiya Shodieva, who is 122 years old, the oldest person in Uzbekistan. She is the mother of six children. She also has 15 grandchildren, 50 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren. Her husband died 30 years ago and she did not re-marry. May be because shes been loyal to him or perhaps she hasnt found a man older than herself. All her life she worked in a collective farm. In mid 20s, during the first years of the Soviet state, she worked closely with Soviet Uzbekistans early leaders. The only reason she is still alive, she says, is because she never stopped working hard. According to the statistics from the Ministry of Social Security, there are almost 700 centenarians in Uzbekistan and there are 413 people who are over 100-years-old. My grandfather died this year when he was 101 and my grandmother died two years ago at the age of 98. There is no doubt that if I had asked them what the secret of long-life was, they would have surely told me: Hard work. (Odil Ruzaliev)

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