Uzbekistan energy officials fired

Gasoline shortages, refinery problems possible reasons

By Ubaydullo Babadzhonov and Shakar Saadi

2010-07-14

TASHKENT -- Two high-ranking energy officials were sacked July 13 by order of President Islam Karimov.

Deputy Prime Minister Ergaz Shoismatov and Uzbekneftegaz Chairman Ulugbek Nazarov were fired.

Their replacements are former Uzkhimprom chief Gulomdzhon Ibragimov and former economy minister Shokir Faizullayev, respectively.

The government had no comment on the firings, restricting itself to a brief announcement on the www.gov.uz website.

But observers had opinions.

The firings were linked to Karimov's dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in the oil and gas sector, an Uzbekneftegaz official who lacked authorisation to talk to media said on condition of anonymity.

"Nationwide recently we've seen a severe shortage of diesel fuel and gasoline", the official said. "On top of that, an inspection in June found deficiencies and financial shortfalls in a number of oil refineries. All this couldn't go unnoticed at the top".

"Every state is like a living organism", said Uzbek analyst and rights activist Anatolii Volkov. "Sometimes it gets sick and you have to treat it by cutting out some organs".

These affairs will always go on "behind closed doors" in Uzbekistan, he said. "To talk more concretely, you need open information, but we don't have information. ... We don't have democracy".

Political scientist Iskander Khudoiberganov said the ranks of leadership change regularly in Uzbekistan.

"There's nothing good about it,” he said. “It's obvious that the authorities wanted something, didn't get it, and are looking for the culprit. They name someone to a position, expect an accomplishment from him, and don't get it.

"The system is guilty, not the person", he continued. "This is connected to the Soviet manner of exploiting oil and gas deposits: extracting as much as possible".

More turmoil could be coming in the oil and gas sector, he predicted.

"Firing Shoismatov, who was responsible for the fuel and energy industries, could be connected to dissatisfaction with the performance of Uzbekneftegaz", he said. "Namely, fire the Uzbekneftegaz CEO and his patron in the government".

Inside the company, the sackings have altered the atmosphere, the anonymous Uzbekneftegaz official said.

"They're talking in the company about the possibility of more changes", the source said. "Many fear for their jobs now".

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Reader Comments

  • One can't get enough gasoline, while the other calls a half-dead devil his father. Zhirinovsky was right - 22 million rams. We live like slaves with animal rights. We will die in the same fashion. But no regrets. What I regret is that our children and grandchildren will also live this way. Nothing will change.

    November 17, 2010 @ 04:11:00PM Улугбек
  • A man on a horse never thinks about people on foot. Probably, these new ones, just as was clear with old ones, are paying out bribes.

    August 3, 2010 @ 04:08:00PM Фаррух
  • And when will Karimov himself be replaced?

    August 2, 2010 @ 07:08:00AM Муроди
  • I am so sorry for the Daddy, the strong and uncontested system that he created is impossible to improve in a civilized way. The government or the regime was formed in an archaic way from the start. Meanwhile, everybody says in the East: while the dog is barking, the caravan moves on. Democracy and openness is the strength of a nation. A smart politician, he exploits people's tolerance and obedience. He did a lot for strengthening the state, but he failed to do a lot for his people. As a result, we have rampant corruption, lawlessness and incompetent authorities.

    July 30, 2010 @ 07:07:00AM Олов
  • You cannot chop wood without making chips fly. Was it connected with gasoline shortages in Samarkand? People are suffering but city fathers do not give a damn. They probably are not affected by it.

    July 26, 2010 @ 01:07:00AM зануда
  • One thief out, one thief in, that is it.

    July 17, 2010 @ 10:07:00AM ektibor