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.
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?
Editor’s Note: Nate Schenkkan is the Project Director for Nations in Transit at Freedom House and a veteran host of The Central Asianist Podcast. EurasiaNet is pleased to support The Central Asianist, which offers a unique take on developments in Central Asia, featuring top experts and journalists from around the world.