The New Elite in Post-Communist Uzbekistan
An analysis of Uzbekistan's post-Communist elite not only enables us to understand the processes taking place in Uzbekistan but enhances our ability to forecast future sociopolitical developments in Central Asia. Three key questions must be addressed: 1) Who comprised Uzbekistan's elite under Communism and what were their positions? 2) what is the nature of the new elite and what are their politics? 3) What path will Uzbekistan take in its future development?
The Uzbek elite felt the effects of general laws that marked the development of the Soviet system. For this reason, the nature and status of the elite in Communist Uzbekistan differed little from the situation of the party-bureaucratic elite in the former Soviet Union. They had the same "ownerless" property, the same power, which was transformed into a commodity, and the same trafficking in power. Matters reached a point where money could buy the post of a high-placed party official, a chief of a regional Department of internal Affairs, or a directorship of a sovkhoz. At the same time, the specifics of the national and religious mentality, as well as parochial and clan interests that aggravated the acute general-systemic crisis of the former Soviet Union, could not help but make themselves felt in Uzbekistan. One may recall the well-known "cotton affair" of the 1970s and 1980s. It was more commonly termed the "Uzbek affair" in Moscow official circles, with a focus on its specifically national rather than systemic character. The cotton affair meant many billions in stolen rubles for the state; it cost the lives of more than one member of the highest party and economic elite and ruined the lives of many others.