New construction, large-scale demolitions, building refurbishments, and street closings are reconfiguring Uzbekistan’s capital, Tashkent. Consistent with President Islam Karimov’s penchant for opaque policy-making, officials have not offered an explanation for the timing and the scope of recent urban renewal efforts.
Some local observers believe that Tashkent planners are following the “Ashgabat model,” a reference to the sweeping changes that have transformed the Turkmen capital over the last two decades. Uzbek officials would like to see Tashkent filled with “beautiful palaces that you stare at in awe, but [are] not a place for people to live in,” said one resident. [For background see EurasiaNet’s archive].
Many locals were aghast to discover one day last November that trees in the central Amu Timur Square had been felled. The large old trees, some dating to the late 19th century, made the leafy park a popular spot to stroll, play chess, or meet friends. The trees and gardens were replaced with lawns and small saplings for reasons never explained.
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