Uzbek Crackdown on Turkish Firms
The Hurriyet Daily News is carrying an interesting AFP report about an Uzbek crackdown on Turkish firms that are being accused by the government of being fronts for religious activity. From the report:
Uzbekistan has stepped up pressure against the private business interests of its one-time ally Turkey, with state media denouncing Turkish firms as acting as a front for religious extremists.
Long wary of the influence of Islamic fundamentalism in the Muslim majority Central Asian state, secular authorities appear to be linking Turkish private business to the activities of the Nurcus, an Islamic group that is banned in the country.
Uzbek state television has repeatedly aired documentaries accusing Turkish companies of creating a shadow economy, using double accounting and propagating nationalistic and extremist ideology.
"Over the past two years 54 Turkish nationals have faced criminal charges, 50 ventures working with Turkish capital were closed down for breaching country's laws and causing damage to the economy," a special report by the main Uzbekistan channel said.
Over half a billion dollars worth of cash and goods were "confiscated by one Tashkent court decision alone," according to the documentary "Kurnamaklık" (The Ungrateful Ones).
The reports came just after Uzbek law enforcement officials raided the Turkuaz supermarket, one of the biggest in the capital Tashkent, in a so-called "mask show" operation involving balaclava-clad special security forces.
At the end of last year, the first and the oldest Turkish supermarket in Tashkent was closed down for breaking local laws.
At the same time, one of the most prestigious English-language schools in Uzbekistan – which operates with Turkish funding – declared the suspension of their educational services for "safety and security reasons."