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The Uzbek tinderbox

Most post-Soviet states, like Ukraine, decided not to shoot their citizens. Not Uzbekistan

Lenin justified ruthlessness by quoting a Russian folk saying—”When you live with wolves you must learn to howl like a wolf.” Last month, Islam Karimov, the ageing Uzbek president, did what his Soviet apparatchik training told him to and howled “shoot.” When the shooting stopped, hundreds of people lay dead in the streets of Andijan, a city in the fertile, ethnically complex Ferghana valley, east of the capital Tashkent.

A regime which competes in nastiness with Turkmenistan for the mantle of worst in central Asia blamed “Islamic extremists” linked to Hizb ut-Tahrir for provoking the trouble. Hizb, which is banned,…

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