Today, January 31, will go into contemporary history of Uzbekistan – President Shavkat Mirziyoyev dismissed Rustam Inoyatov, head of the National Security Services (NSS), after over 20 years of work on that post.
According to first-hand reports, the president arrived at the NSS head office, where he harshly criticized both the activity of the service and Inoyatov, particularly. Until now, the NSS head has been beyond any criticism. He has been considered an all-mighty person with chilling reputation. He is one of the high-ranking officials in the country to be banned from the West after Andijan unrest.
Strict power hierarchy, all-mighty regime, lack of any opposition – observers see Inoyatov behind all these “achievements.” It is widely rumored that in exchange for such stability in the country, he is enjoying preferences and has created personal big business. According to many experts, Inoyatov could replace president Islam Karimov, when he experienced health problems.
Meantime, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev came to power and became an outspoken critic of the National Security Service. Inoyatov’s first deputy was dismissed soon after Mirziyoyev’s coming to power. Afterwards, other officials were discussed. Staff reshuffles reached also the interior and defense ministries. Noteworthy that defense and interior ministers were appointed also by approval of NSS chief. At the end of 2017, Mirizyoyev said in a statement that the powers of NSS are groundlessly wide. That statement announced big changes in the field, but few people believed that the new Uzbek leader will cope with the task. On January 31, Mirziyoyev shamed the sceptics.
“Dismissal of 73-year-old Rustam Inoyatov, who seemed to be all-mighty chief of the Uzbek National Security Service for 20 years, may put an end to Karimov’s era in Uzbekistan. A state in the state - this is what the threat detection department under Karimov became, in fact. It was a big obstacle to the modernization process launched by second president of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, including his efforts to liquidate black market trading - Uzbekistan is the only CIS country that can still ‘boast of’ it after the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Arkady Dubnov, political analyst, expert in Central Asia, has told EADaily.
According to Uzmetronom.com, an uncensored online media outlet, a short before Inoyatov’s resignation, his two deputies, heads of 11 regional offices of the National Security Service were dismissed as well. Dubnov believes that such fundamental staff purges will continue at lower levels of NSS of Uzbekistan. “This assumption was confirmed by the appointment of former prosecutor general Ikhtiyer Abdullayev as chief of NSS. Mirziyoyev’s vigor makes me believe that Uzbekistan’s transformation into a modern and dynamically developing country is quite real a task,” Dubnov says.
Expert in Central Asia and Middle East Alexander Knyazev, in turn, says Rustam Inoyatov’s dismissal was rather symbolical, as the NSS has been undergoing gradual reform throughout 2017. “Last May, the territorial military units were removed from the NSS. The responsibilities and functions in the field of economy, staff policy and other sectors were reduced dramatically. NSS no longer has and will no longer have the role in had before. Many powers of NSS were transferred to the Interior Ministry yet in late 2016. After death of first president Islam Karimov, Rustam Inoyatov with his department was the guarantor of the new president’s approval without any shocks for the country. Reforms of NSS were made with Inoyatov’s direct participation. Shavkat Mirziyoyev agreed on resignation of Rustam Inoyatov, which means that the period of power transit in Uzbekistan is finally over in line with all assumed scenarios. Now, NSS is a usual special service with no special powers. No ‘new Inoyatov’ will emerge in the country. It appears that the old configuration of security and law-enforcement departments in Uzbekistan does not imply existence of a dominating organization,” Alexander Knyazev says.
Soon after this interview, it was reported that Rustam Inoyatov is appointed advisor to the president for political affairs.
EADaily’s Central Asian Bureau