Democracy dies in darkness

Asror Arabjanov
2 min readFeb 14, 2020

When the president or the prime minister — the head of government — are not there, heads of Uzbekistan’s regions are almost royals. As there is no text-book clear division of powers at the republican level between an executive, legislature and judiciary, the situation at regional level takes the even more creative forms possible. French Enlightenment political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu’s body (let his spirit rest in peace) would create eternal engine by turning in grave for the fact that the country effectively proclaims to be constitutional republic with clear division of powers among its institutions.

Though in paper the above-mentioned division is clear and fundamentally stable, current state of affairs in regions leaves many gaps for the new government to fill. The legacy left by the late head of state seem to provide relative freedom and feeling of immortality for region heads (khakims).

The recent outburst of the Ferghana region khakim — G’aniyev Shukhrat — notorious for his outrageous speeches, caused considerable reaction (though not as big as the one caused by Tashkent city khakim Jahangir Artikhodjaev’s speeches) among informed public. In his speech allegedly given in Ferghana, he directed all his anger towards the head of Quva district demanding to “read janazah”[1] to the blogger who reported on recent mass protests of people demanding to provide electricity and natural gas in Quva district[2].

Should this situation happen in more civilized and democratic societies, the head of Ferghana would announce his resignation without a second thought. The situation takes even stranger form, when the mammoths of justice — the General Prosecutors office and the Human Rights Ombudsman — go silent. At the same time when the President takes major steps to provide people a relative assurance on freedom of speech, as creation of Agency of Information and Mass Communications, situation seems to be a little out of hand. But we have what we have and we have nothing to do but wait for the next generation of civil servants to be born and hope they don’t catch star fever from their predecessors.

As the Washington Post’s slogan goes ‘Democracy dies in darkness’, and so far the new generation of ambitious bloggers seem to provide that spark to keep the flame burning.

[1] Ṣalāt al-Janāzah (Arabic: صلاة الجنازة‎) is the Islamic funeral prayer; a part of the Islamic funeral ritual.