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Cablegate: Tashkent Tidbits October 20, 2008

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DE RUEHNT #1201 2941240
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P 201240Z OCT 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY TASHKENT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0435
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 1128
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 4621
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 2912
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1571

174394 2008-10-20 12:40:00 08TASHKENT1201 Embassy Tashkent CONFIDENTIAL VZCZCXYZ0001\
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DE RUEHNT #1201 2941240\
ZNY CCCCC ZZH\
P 201240Z OCT 08 ZDK\
FM AMEMBASSY TASHKENT\
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0435\
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY\
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY\
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 1128\
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 4621\
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 2912\
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1571\
C O N F I D E N T I A L TASHKENT 001201 \
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SIPDIS \
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/19/2018 \
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON UZ
SUBJECT: TASHKENT TIDBITS OCTOBER 20, 2008 \
\
Classified By: POL-ECON Chief Nicholas Berliner for \
reasons 1.4 b and d. \
\
\
UNDP and Uzbek Customs Launch New Web Site \
------------------------------------------ \
1. (C) The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and \
Uzbekistan's State Customs Committee have launched a new \
website (www.customsreform.uz), which will include updates on \
the latest changes in Customs regulation and discussions of \
the new Customs Code. An English-language version is in the \
works. \
\
Non-Stop Service to Switzerland \
------------------------------- \
\
2. (C) Uzbekistan Airlines last week announced the expansion \
of its route network to include a new non-stop flight linking \
Tashkent and Geneva. At first glance this seems like an \
unusual choice since the airline already serves several major \
European hubs and Geneva is not a particularly large city; \
Zurich is also a more of a gateway airport. We can't even \
convince the Government of Uzbekistan to extend prison visit \
agreements with the Geneva-based International Committee of \
the Red Cross. The main reason may be that the new Uzbek \
Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva happens to be \
President Karimov's daughter, Gulnora Karimova, who would \
otherwise be subjected to time-consuming layovers in Paris, \
Frankfurt, or Milan on her commutes. The direct flight may \
also prove popular with Uzbek "biznessmen" seeking to do \
anonymous banking. \
\
Russian Ambassador Moving On \
---------------------------- \
3. (U) The Russian MFA reported on its website that the \
Russian Ambassador to Tashkent, Farit Muhametshin, has been \
appointed the head of the Federal Agency for Commonwealth of \
Independent States (CIS) Affairs, Citizens Living Abroad, and \
International Humanitarian Cooperation. The Charge \
d'Affaires will be Vazyh Ibragimovich Serazaev until a new \
envoy is named. In an October 18 article the Uzbek website \
uzmetronom.com credited Muhametshin, an ethnic Tatar, with \
the "restoration of friendly and allied relations between the \
states." \
\
Russia's Economy and Uzbek Migrants \
----------------------------------- \
4. (C) The effect of the world economic crisis on Uzbekistan \
was the topic of discussion at a meeting of embassy and IFI \
economists hosted last week by the Tashkent office of the \
EBRD. A significant portion of the discussion was devoted to \
the effect a downturn in the Russian economy would have on \
the up to 5 million Uzbek migrant laborers in Russia. A \
representative of the Russian trade mission assured us that \
the Russian migration service would be ruthless and efficient \
in deporting undocumented laborers, but his assertion was met \
with raised eyebrows. Other participants posited the more \
believable notion that highly qualified Uzbeks working in \
Russia will always find work and will remain through any \
recession, whereas unskilled laborers employed mainly in the \
construction industry may flood back to their family bases in \
Uzbekistan. Given that officially acknowledged remittances \
amounted to USD 1.6 billion in 2007 (nearly 9% of the Uzbek \
GDP), a mass return of unskilled laborers could be the most \
significant manifestation of the world economic crisis in \
Uzbekistan. \
\
Iranian Ambassador Takes Four Months to Present Credentials \
--------------------------------------------- ------------- \
5. (C) Iran's new ambassador to Uzbekistan Muhammad \
Keshovarzoda was in Tashkent for four months before \
presenting his credentials to President Karimov on October \
15. That Karimov was clearly in no hurry to receive \
Keshovarzoda can be seen as a reflection of GOU attitudes \
about Iran generally and suspicions about Tehran's motives in \
the region. \
NORLAND \

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