The head of state has fired officials and executives responsible for the problems in the distribution of gas. The sector is controlled by opaque companies. The role of Gazprom Russians.
Moscow () – Uzbek President Šavkat Mirziyoyev has fired several executives and technocrats in recent days for serious failures in the energy and gas distribution systems that have severely affected the population in one of the coldest winters in many years in these latitudes. Mirziyoyev said he felt “deep concern and anguish for every family, every person in our country who is suffering from the cold,” adding that “all the country’s leaders should have similar sentiments.” And immediately after that he announced the dismissal of the mayor of the capital, Tashkent.
In fact, as various press reports and in particular the Radio Ozodlik website show, warnings to the Mirziyoyev administration about problems related to his ambitious plan to increase oil and gas extraction have been repeated for at least three years. . Many journalists have pointed out that the main beneficiaries of these projects are highly opaque companies controlled by Uzbek and Russian political adventurers, including an oligarch close to Putin.
Ozodlik reports that in January 2020 a confidential document circulated in various government offices stating that the multi-million dollar energy project could endanger the country’s security in this sector and cause large deficits in gas supply. Various documents and testimonies confirm that this project handed over several deposits to the control of certain characters without any credible competition, interested only in speculating in international markets.
One of the key figures targeted by the investigations is Bakhtyor Fazilov, a little-known Russian-Uzbek businessman from Samarkand with ties to Uzbek secret services. In the secret report, his name appears as responsible for the disproportionate costs of construction services compared to state companies. In addition, control of the main gas reserve in Uzbekistan is attributed to a Russian company from St. Petersburg, registered in the name of a front man lawyer for the oligarch close to Putin Gennadij Timchenko, on whom US and EU sanctions weigh. .
Many of the contracts, according to the documents published by Ozodlik, have been stipulated with offshore companies based in Cyprus, Singapore, China, Great Britain and other free zones, almost always at the direction of Mirziyoyev himself. The Russian giant Gazprom, the Kremlin’s geopolitical weapon, has inserted its tentacles into various folds of Uzbekistan’s energy programs.
Now the Uzbek president has instructed the SGB Security Service to launch an investigation into the actions of the dismissed officials and apply severe sanctions if it discovers violations of the law. This measure was also included in the 2020 report, which suggested “dismissing all officials” of the Ministry of Energy and the state-owned company Uzbekneftegas for the damage caused to the country’s economy.
According to journalistic reconstructions, ties to the Russians date back to the years immediately after the collapse of the Soviet empire, but the first president, Islam Karimov, was very wary of the Russians, whom he did not fully trust, while his current successor barely arrived. to power in 2016, he tied his hands and feet to Gazprom’s men. The bank associated with the Russian company, Gazprombank, financed in 2017 a mixed company called Natural Gas-Stream with almost 4,000 million dollars, whose declared objective was “to guarantee the stable satisfaction of the needs of the population and the economy of the country in derived from the extraction of hydrocarbons”.
In 2019 Mirziyoyev formed a control commission over 35 active projects in the sector for a total budget of 39 billion dollars that exposed various errors and management failures, but was unable to correct them. And now the Ministry of Energy has announced that oil and gas supplies have decreased due to the depletion of various sources, as well as numerous accidents in the extraction process. And the Uzbek people are still exposed to cold and ice, waiting for better times.