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Uzbekistan: A nation's great loss

On September 7, 2007, a sunny Friday morning, Tashkent and the whole country were struck with the sad news – Mark Weil was killed. Mark Weil was the legendary artistic director of the famed Ilkhom Theatre that was founded in 1976 by Weil himself. Weil was reportedly killed by two unknown people in black, who waited for him next to his house and hit him on the head and stabbed him. The main topic discussed in Uzbek blogosphere during the past weeks was mainly about the death of this legendary person.

One of the first to report on Weil's death was Kamolanavo (RUS), who expressed her deep grief on the loss of Mark Weil. As expected, the post immediately got many comments, where all readers sympathized with the whole nation of Uzbekistan about the loss of its great son. Sherig178 wrote:

This is a tragedy on a national scale. It is hard to believe that this could happen in Tashkent. This is our great loss.

Sherig178 writes in his own blog (RUS) a very sympathetic post devoted to Mark Weil. He writes that “whoever did this [murder], the government must find them and bring them to an open trial and severely punish them.”

The government MUST do this. They killed a part of our soul, of our memory, and of our Tashkent. The government MUST punish them, and put a monument to the person [Weil], who greatly contributed to our development, to the development of our motherland. He was a patriot, therefore he didn’t leave the country [like others]. He loved Tashkent. Weil was the best of our society, therefore, facing up to Weil, giving dues to the great Master, the government will make [constructive] steps towards us – its nation.

Hot discussion concerning this issue took place on Registan.net too, after Nathan’s post about it (ENG) . The comments speculated about the three possible reasons for Weil’s murder: a) political – Weil’s murder has to do with upcoming elections and his refusal to support the president’s daughter, b) Weil was murdered for expressing progressive ideas in his theater (e.g. some homoerotic content of the repertoire), c) it was an anti-Semitic attack, as Weil was a Jew.

Rowan Wagner also deeply sympathized about “a great loss of a nation.” (ENG) In his blog, Rowan shares with readers his personal experience with Mark Weil, whom he calls “a great man, playwright, innovator and just fun guy.” Rowan is dreadfully sorrowful, because of such an end to Weil’s life.

And [Weil died] not from a nice comfortable heart attack, or some freak accident, but [was] beaten to death. To me this foreshadows a rising evil in Tashkent which until recently was place of calm, for Mark was loved by all in Tashkent, – always the faithful son and though in his art played at the fringes of politics and uncomfortable subjects often through humor and the medium of the play, never was threatening in any political, business, social or cultural sense.

Meanwhile, our own CXW discusses the lack of attention given to the murder by official Uzbek media, and that speculation about the background of the crime is rife.

Speculation surrounding Weil’s death will most likely continue for some time, not least because of reports of newspapers being ordered not to print any material.

The other issues discussed in the Uzbek blogosphere were mainly concerning the socio-economic life of people in Uzbekistan. Jamiyat writes about the recent rise of prices in Uzbek market and talks about the possible result of it among citizen. Jamiyat gives very interesting examples of local governments hiding this fact from the president’s apparatus and international organizations (ENG).

What one can observe now is that businessmen are forced to sell their goods for a lower price than the market dictates. That is, if the president visits the city of Margilan, for example, all sales-people are forced to sell their products for almost half of their original cost. An old Soviet way of hiding the reality, which was widely used starting from the 1980s… This tactics was also used during the two days’ Annual Meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development held in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan in 2003. A group of economists were taken to the local markets to show that the real prices are very low and affordable by the population. What the Uzbek officials would not realize, though, was that the respectable organization, such as the EBRD makes its reports about a country far in advance. They were not blind either and saw all the people fighting their way through the police cordons in order to be able to buy foodstuffs for an unbelievably low prices. After the experts left the market, police even had to use force to disperse people.

Jamiyat also writes about the hackers attack to the embassies of Asian countries (ENG) that opened passwords to 100 email accounts 37 of which belonged to Uzbek embassies and consulates around the world.

The blog Civil Society in Uzbekistan writes about the water and visa problems between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan (RUS) , posting an interview with the Uzbek ambassador in Tajikistan. The water problem is a great issue at the moment between these two countries. The problem was fueled by Tajik plans to build several hydroelectric stations on rivers that flow to Uzbekistan where they are used mainly to irrigate cotton fields. However, the ambassador says in the interview:

Taking my chance, I want to disappoint those who like to politicize this problem, and those who want to put these two brother nations at odds. There was not any enmity and insolvable contradictions.

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