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Uzbekistan: Security Service Personnel to be Removed from Embassies

“The ambassador is the representative of the president. Nobody should be keeping tabs on him.”

The president of Uzbekistan has embarked on another sally against the powerful security services by demanding that all the body’s agents stationed in embassies abroad be recalled.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev declared his intent on this policy during a speech to foreign diplomats over the weekend. 

“All diplomats make a note of this: every person, regardless of their position and affiliation with some or other organ, should be subordinated to the ambassador and should implicitly fulfill his orders. In the embassies there are representatives of a certain service, but that’s it, those times are over. Tomorrow I will recall them all. The ambassador is the representative of the president. Nobody should be keeping tabs on him,” Mirziyoyev said.

This marks a bold full-front assault on the National Security Services, or SNB, the body’s commonly deployed Russian language acronym.

The remit of the SNB has long been said to extend well beyond mere national security. High level representatives of the security services have used their influence to accumulate wealth and power, making Mirziyoyev’s increasingly bold confrontation more than a matter of bureaucratic reorganization.

In another landmark speech on December 22, this time to lawmakers, Mirziyoyev announced that the time had come to institute legislation enshrining the precise responsibilities of the security services.

“The National Security Services [or NSS] operates on the basis of a statute adopted by the government 26 years ago. We must reform this structure. The NSS should be a protector of our external and internal security,” Mirziyoyev said to audible rustling in the hall.

Political analyst Rafael Sattarov noted in remarks to Eurasianet.org that while most countries tend to have representatives from their security organs installed at their embassies, the issue of contention with the SNB is that their officers have unlimited power.

“It is possible that diplomats complained to the president about the SNB. But that SNB chief Rustam Inoyatov is not going to like this is pretty clear,” Sattarov said.

Mirziyoyev moves against the security chiefs that were in charge before his ascent to power in 2016 have been steady and inexorable. But while the Interior Minister and Defense Minister have both been switched out, the 74-year old head of the SNB, Inoyatov, who has held his job since 1995, remains firmly in place.

A day of reckoning for one or other side may be on the horizon.

Uzbekistan: Security Service Personnel to be Removed from Embassies

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