Novruz festivities in the Uzbek capital Tashkent are providing a welcome respite after residents shivered through a hard winter.
Uzbekistan experienced unusually long and cold winter, one that highlighted shortcomings in the country’s economic system. According to some estimates, Uzbek GDP enjoyed roughly 7 percent growth in 2011. But much of that growth was driven by commodity exports, namely cotton and natural gas. Those economic spheres tend to benefit a just few individuals, especially those who are well-connected to President Islam Karimov’s administration.
The domestic economy appears to be stagnating, in large part because of stifling government regulation. And judging by the rapidly decaying state of the country’s infrastructure, the quality of life for most Uzbeks seems caught in a downward spiral.
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