In this episode, Nate speaks with Bakhtiyor Nishanov, the deputy director for Eurasia of the International Republican Institute (IRI), about whether Uzbekistan is experiencing a thaw since the death of Islam Karimov in August 2016.
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Bakhti and Nate discuss Uzbekistan’s policies under President Shavkat Mirziyoyev: the release of a small number of high-profile political prisoners, relaxations on speech restrictions on social media, and improved relations with neighboring countries in Central Asia, among others. Do these changes constitute a genuine thaw, or are they just attempts by a new leader to shore up legitimacy using different tools than his predecessor? What kind of system is Mirziyoyev interested in creating, and what will it mean for Central Asia?
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