Uzbekistan

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Posted by kaori 04/27/2009 @ 20:13

Tags : uzbekistan, central asia, asia, world

News headlines
Japanese first to book place - ESPN
Japan became the first team to qualify for the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa when they beat Uzbekistan 1-0 in a Group One qualifier on Saturday. Shinji Okazaki struck the only goal early in the game to secure Japan's place at their fourth...
US military deaths in Afghanistan region at 621 - Washington Post
By AP AP -- As of Friday, June 5, 2009, at least 621 members of the US military had died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan as a result of the US invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to the Defense Department....
UZBEKISTAN: GM UZBEKISTAN'S UNCERTAIN FUTURE AMID TALK OF A TAKEOVER - EurasiaNet
General Motors operations in Uzbekistan are unaffected by the company's bankruptcy proceedings, Uzbek authorities insist, even though the local operation may be subject to a takeover. GM Uzbekistan "does not plan to adjust its development programs in...
Indictment alleges trafficking in foreign workers - Kansas City Star
Those named in the indictment: Abrorkhodja Askarkhodjaev, 30, Nodir Yunusov, 22, Rustamjon Shukurov, 21, citizens of Uzbekistan living in Mission; Ilkham Fazilov, 44, Nodirbek Abdoollayev, 27, citizens of Uzbekistan living in Kansas City; Viorel Simon,...
BAHRAIN SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH UZBEKISTAN - Bahrain News Agency
HE ALSO MET WITH ISLAM KARIMOV, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF UZBEKISTAN. A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WAS SIGNED DURING THE VISIT BETWEEN THE CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY OF THE TWO COUNTRIES. THE ACCOMPANYING DELEGATION INCLUDED MR....
US military deaths in Afghanistan region at 619 - The Associated Press
As of Thursday, June 4, 2009, at least 619 members of the US military had died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan as a result of the US invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to the Defense Department. The department last updated its...
Uzbekistan's mobile internet penetration now up to 4.8% - TMCnet
TASHKENT, Jun 5, 2009 (Asia In Focus via COMTEX) -- As of 1 January 2009, number of legal entities, providing data transfer services, including Internet service, made up 856. The number of internet cafes reached 872. * The number of companies,...
Malaysia to face last year's finalists Thailand and Indonesia - Malaysia Star
Balakrishnan said they played against top club sides as Stroitel and FC Ardus were the current champions and runners-up of the current Uzbekistan Futsal League. Malaysia have never beaten Thailand in the AFF series since the inaugural championship in...
Who has qualified for South Africa 2010? - BBC Sport
Takeshi Okada's Japan became the first team to book their place after earning a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Uzbekistan in Tashkent. Shunji Okazaki grabbed the only goal of the game after nine minutes to book a fourth successive finals berth....

Uzbekistan

Coat of arms of Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan, officially the Republic of Uzbekistan (Uzbek: O‘zbekiston Respublikasi or Ўзбекистон Республикаси), is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia, formerly part of the Soviet Union. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south. Once part of the Persian Samanid and later Timurid empires, the region was conquered in the early 16th century by Uzbek nomads, who spoke an Eastern Turkic language. Most of Uzbekistan’s population today belong to the Uzbek ethnic group and speak the Uzbek language, one of the family of Turkic languages. Uzbekistan was incorporated into the Russian Empire in the 19th century and in 1924 became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, known as the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic (Uzbek SSR). It has been an independent republic since December 1991.

Uzbekistan's economy relies mainly on commodity production, including cotton, gold, uranium, and natural gas. Despite the declared objective of transition to a market economy, Uzbekistan continues to maintain rigid economic controls, which often repel foreign investors. The policy of gradual, strictly controlled transition has nevertheless produced beneficial results in the form of economic recovery after 1995. Uzbekistan's domestic policies of human rights and individual freedoms are often criticized by international organizations.

The territory of Uzbekistan was already populated in the second millennium BC. Early human tools and monuments have been found in the Ferghana, Tashkent, Bukhara, Khorezm (Khwarezm, Chorasmia) and Samarkand regions.

Alexander the Great conquered Sogdiana and Bactria in 327 BC, marrying Roxana, daughter of a local Bactrian chieftain. The conquest was supposedly of little help to Alexander as popular resistance was fierce, causing Alexander's army to be bogged down in the region that became the northern part of Hellenistic Greco-Bactrian Kingdom. For many centuries the region of Uzbekistan was ruled by Iranian Empires, including the Parthian and Sassanid Empires.

In the fourteenth century AD, Timur, known in the west as Tamerlane, overpowered the Mongols and built an empire. In his military campaigns, Tamerlane reached as far as the Middle East. He defeated Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I, who was captured, and died in captivity. Tamerlane sought to build a capital for his empire in Samarkand. Today Tamerlane is considered to be one of the greatest heroes in Uzbekistan. He plays a significant role in its national identity and history. Following the fall of the Timurid Empire, Uzbek nomads conquered the region.

In the nineteenth century, the Russian Empire began to expand and spread into Central Asia. The "Great Game" period is generally regarded as running from approximately 1813 to the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, a second, less intensive phase followed. At the start of the nineteenth century, there were some 2,000 miles (3,200 km) separating British India and the outlying regions of Tsarist Russia. Much of the land in between was unmapped.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, Central Asia was firmly in the hands of Russia, and despite some early resistance to Bolsheviks, Uzbekistan and the rest of Central Asia became a part of the Soviet Union. On 27 October 1924 the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic was created. On 31 August 1991, Uzbekistan declared independence, marking 1 September as a national holiday.

The country is now the world's second-largest exporter of cotton, and it is developing its mineral and petroleum reserves.

Uzbekistan is approximately the size of Morocco and has an area of 447,400 square kilometers (172,700 sq mi). It is the 56th largest country in the world by area and the 42nd by population. Among the CIS countries, it is the 5th largest by area and the 3rd largest by population.

Uzbekistan stretches 1,425 kilometers (885 mi) from west to east and 930 kilometers (578 mi) from north to south. Bordering Kazakhstan and the Aral Sea to the north and northwest, Turkmenistan to the southwest, Tajikistan to the southeast, and Kyrgyzstan to the northeast, Uzbekistan is not only one of the larger Central Asian states but also the only Central Asian state to border all the other four. Uzbekistan also shares a short border (less than 150 km) with Afghanistan to the south.

Uzbekistan is a dry, landlocked country; it is one of two double-landlocked countries in the world, i.e., a country completely surrounded by land-locked countries – the other being Liechtenstein. Less than 10% of its territory is intensively cultivated irrigated land in river valleys and oases. The rest is vast desert (Kyzyl Kum) and mountains. The highest point in Uzbekistan is 4,643 meters (15,233 ft), located in the southern part of the Gissar Range in Surkhandarya Province, on the border with Tajikistan, just north-west of Dushanbe (formerly called Peak of the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party, today apparently unnamed).

The climate in the Republic of Uzbekistan is continental, with little precipitation expected annually (100–200 millimeters, or 3.9–7.9 inches). The average summer temperature tends to be 40 °C, while the average winter temperature is around 0 °C.

Major cities include Bukhara, Samarqand, Namangan and the capital Tashkent.

Constitutionally, the Government of Uzbekistan provides for democracy. The executive holds a great deal of power, and the legislature and judiciary have little power to shape laws. Under terms of a December 27, 1995 referendum, Islam Karimov's first term was extended. Another national referendum was held 27 January 2002 to extend the Constitutional Presidential term from 5 years to 7 years. The referendum passed, and Karimov's term was extended by act of the parliament to December 2007. Most international observers refused to participate in the process and did not recognize the results, dismissing them as not meeting basic standards. The 2002 referendum also included a plan to create a bicameral parliament, consisting of a lower house (the Oliy Majlis) and an upper house (Senate). Members of the lower house are to be "full time" legislators. Elections for the new bicameral parliament took place on 26 December, but no truly independent opposition candidates or parties were able to take part. The OSCE limited observation mission concluded that the elections fell significantly short of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections. Several political parties have been formed with government approval. Similarly, although multiple media outlets (radio, TV, newspaper) have been established, these either remain under government control or rarely broach political topics. Independent political parties were allowed to organize, recruit members and hold conventions and press conferences, but they have been denied registration under restrictive registration procedures. Terrorist bombings were carried out 28 March 2004 – 1 April 2004 in Tashkent and Bukhara.

The official position is summarized in a memorandum "The measures taken by the government of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the field of providing and encouraging human rights" and amounts to the following: the government does everything that is in its power to protect and to guarantee the human rights of Uzbekistan's citizens. Uzbekistan continuously improves its laws and institutions in order to create a more humane society. Over 300 laws regulating the rights and basic freedoms of the people have been passed by the parliament. For instance, an office of Ombudsman was established in 1996. On 2 August 2005, President Islam Karimov signed a decree that was to abolish capital punishment in Uzbekistan on 1 January 2008.

The 2005 civil unrest in Uzbekistan, which resulted in several hundred people being killed, is viewed by many as a landmark event in the history of human rights abuse in Uzbekistan, A concern has been expressed and a request for an independent investigation of the events has been made by the United States, European Union, the UN, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. The government of Uzbekistan is accused of unlawful termination of human life and of denying its citizens freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. The government vehemently rebuffs the accusations, maintaining that it merely conducted an anti-terrorist operation, exercising only necessary force. In addition, some officials claim that "an information war on Uzbekistan has been declared" and the human rights violations in Andijan are invented by the enemies of Uzbekistan as a convenient pretext for intervention into the country's internal affairs.

Uzbekistan is divided into twelve provinces (viloyatlar, singular viloyat, compound noun viloyati e.g., Toshkent viloyati, Samarqand viloyati, etc.), one autonomous republic (respublika, compound noun respublikasi e.g. Qaraqalpaqstan Avtonom Respublikasi, Karakalpakistan Autonomous Republic, etc.), and one independent city (shahar. compound noun shahri, e.g., Toshkent shahri). Names are given below in the Uzbek language, although numerous variations of the transliterations of each name exist.

The statistics for Toshkent Viloyati also include the statistics for Toshkent Shahri.

The provinces are further divided into districts (tuman).

Along with many Commonwealth of Independent States economies, Uzbekistan's economy declined during the first years of transition and then recovered after 1995, as the cumulative effect of policy reforms began to be felt. It has shown robust growth, rising by 4% per year between 1998 and 2003 and accelerating thereafter to 7%-8% per year. According to IMF estimates, the GDP in 2008 will be almost double its value in 1995 (in constant prices). Since 2003 annual inflation rates averaged less than 10%.

Uzbekistan has a very low GNI per capita (US$610 in current dollars in 2006, giving a PPP equivalent of US$2,250). By GNI per capita in PPP equivalents Uzbekistan ranks 169 among 209 countries; among the 12 CIS countries, only Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan had lower GNI per capita in 2006. Economic production is concentrated in commodities: Uzbekistan is now the world's sixth-largest producer and second-largest exporter of cotton, as well as the seventh largest world producer of gold. It is also a regionally significant producer of natural gas, coal, copper, oil, silver and uranium. Agriculture employs 28% of Uzbekistan's labor force and contributes 24% of its GDP (2006 data). While official unemployment is very low, underemployment - especially in rural areas - is estimated to be at least 20%. Still, at cotton-harvest time, all students and teachers are mobilized as unpaid labour to help in the fields. The use of child labor in Uzbekistan has led several companies, including Tesco, C&A, Marks & Spencer, Gap, and H&M, to boycott Uzbek cotton.

Facing a multitude of economic challenges upon acquiring independence, the government adopted an evolutionary reform strategy, with an emphasis on state control, reduction of imports and self-sufficiency in energy. Since 1994, the state-controlled media have repeatedly proclaimed the success of this "Uzbekistan Economic Model" and suggested that it is a unique example of a smooth transition to the market economy while avoiding shock, pauperization and stagnation.

The gradualist reform strategy has involved postponing significant macroeconomic and structural reforms. The state in the hands of the bureaucracy has remained a dominant influence in the economy. Corruption permeates the society and grows more rampant over time: Uzbekistan's 2005 Corruption Perception Index was 137 out of 159 countries, whereas in 2007 Uzbekistan is at the very bottom of the ranking, 175 out of 179. A February 2006 report on the country by the International Crisis Group suggests that revenues earned from key exports, especially cotton, gold, corn and increasingly gas, are distributed among a very small circle of the ruling elite, with little or no benefit for the populace at large.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, "the government is hostile to allowing the development of an independent private sector, over which it would have no control". Thus, the national bourgeoisie in general, and the middle class in particular, are marginalized economically and, consequently, politically.

The economic policies have repelled foreign investment, which is the lowest per capita in the CIS. For years, the largest barrier to foreign companies entering the Uzbekistani market has been the difficulty of converting currency. In 2003, the government accepted the obligations of Article VIII under the International Monetary Fund. providing for full currency convertibility. However, strict currency controls and the tightening of borders have lessened the effect of this measure.

Uzbekistan experienced galloping inflation of around 1000% per year immediately after independence (1992-1994). Stabilization efforts implemented with active guidance from the IMF rapidly paid off, as inflation rates were brought down to 50% in 1997 and then to 22% in 2002. Since 2003 annual inflation rates averaged less than 10%. Tight economic policies in 2004 resulted in a drastic reduction of inflation to 3.8% (although alternative estimates based on the price of a true market basket, put it at 15%). The inflation rates moved up to 6.9% in 2006 and 7.6% in 2007 but have remained in the single-digit range.

The government of Uzbekistan restricts foreign imports in many ways, including high import duties. Excise taxes are applied in a highly discriminatory manner to protect locally produced goods. Official tariffs are combined with unofficial, discriminatory charges resulting in total charges amounting to as much as 100 to 150% of the actual value of the product, making imported products virtually unaffordable. Import substitution is an officially declared policy and the government proudly reports a reduction by a factor of two in the volume of consumer goods imported. A number of CIS countries are officially exempt from Uzbekistan import duties.

The Republican Stock Exchange (RSE) 'Tashkent' opened in 1994. It houses a securities exchange, real estate traders, the national investment fund and the national securities depositary. It does not trade all joint-stock companies each month, and therefore market capitalisation varies widely.

Uzbekistan's external position has been strong since 2003. Thanks in part to the recovery of world market prices of gold and cotton (the country's key export commodities), expanded natural gas and some manufacturing exports, and increasing labour migrant transfers, the current account turned into a large surplus (between 9% and 11% of GDP from 2003 to 2005) and foreign exchange reserves, including gold, more than doubled to around US$3 billion.

Uzbekistan is Central Asia's most populous country. Its 27.7 million people (July 2007 estimate) comprise nearly half the region's total population.

The population of Uzbekistan is very young: 34.1% of its people are younger than 14 (2008 estimate). According to official sources, Uzbeks comprise a majority (80%) of the total population. Other ethnic groups include Russians 5.5%, Tajiks 5%, Kazakhs 3%, Karakalpaks 2.5% and Tatars 1.5% (1996 estimates). There is some controversy about the percentage of the Tajik population. While official state numbers from Uzbekistan put the number at 5%, the number is said to be an understatement and some Western scholars put the number up to 20%-30%..

Uzbekistan has an ethnic Korean population that was forcibly relocated to the region by Stalin from the Soviet Far East in 1937-1938. There are also small groups of Armenians in Uzbekistan, mostly in Tashkent and Samarkand. The nation is 88% Muslim (mostly Sunni, with a 5% Shi'a minority), 9% Eastern Orthodox and 3% other faiths. The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report 2004 reports that 0.2% of the population are Buddhist (these being ethnic Koreans). The Bukharian Jews have lived in Central Asia, mostly in Uzbekistan, for thousands of years. There were 94,900 Jews in Uzbekistan in 1989 (about 0.5% of the population according to the 1989 census), but now, since the collapse of the USSR, most Central Asian Jews left the region for the United States or Israel. Fewer than 5,000 Jews remained in Uzbekistan in 2007.

At least 10% of Uzbekistan's labor force works abroad (mostly in Russia and Kazakhstan).

Uzbekistan has a 99.3% literacy rate among adults older than 15 (2003 estimate), which is attributable to the free and universal education system of the Soviet Union.

The Uzbek language is the only official state language. The Tajik language is widespread in the cities of Bukhara and Samarqand because of their relatively large population of ethnic Tajiks. Russian is still an important language for interethnic communication, especially in the cities, including much day-to-day technical, scientific, governmental and business use. Russian is the main language of over 14% of the population and is spoken as a second language by many more. The use of Russian in remote rural areas has always been limited, and today school children have no proficiency in Russian even in urban centers.

In 1992 Uzbekistan officially shifted back to Latin script from traditional considerations of consistency with Turkey, but many signs and notices (including official government boards in the streets) are still written in Uzbek Cyrillic script that had been used in Uzbek SSR since 1940. Computers as a rule operate using the "Uzbek Cyrillic" keyboard, and Latin script is reportedly composed using the standard English keyboard.

According to the official source report, as of 10 March 2008, the number of cellular phone users in Uzbekistan reached 7 million, up from 3.7 million on 1 July 2007. The largest mobile operator in terms of number of subscribers is MTS-Uzbekistan (former Uzdunrobita and part of Russian Mobile TeleSystems) and it is followed by Beeline (part of Russia's Beeline) and Coscom (originally part of the U.S. MCT Corp., now a subsidiary of the Nordic/Baltic telecommunication company TeliaSonera AB).

As of 1 July 2007, the estimated number of internet users was 1.8 million, according to UzACI.

Tashkent, the nation's capital and largest city, has a three-line rapid transit system built in 1977, and expanded in 2001 after ten years' independence from the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan is currently the only country in Central Asia with a subway system, which is promoted as one of the cleanest systems in the former Soviet Union. The stations are exceedingly ornate. For example, the station Metro Kosmonavtov built in 1984 is decorated using a space travel theme to recognise the achievements of mankind in space exploration and to commemorate the role of Vladimir Dzhanibekov, the Soviet cosmonaut of Uzbek origin. A statue of Vladimir Dzhanibekov stands near one of the station's entrances.

There are government-operated trams, buses and trolley buses running across the city. There are also many taxis, both registered and unregistered. Uzbekistan has car-producing plants which produce modern cars. The car production is supported by the government and the Korean auto company Daewoo. The Uzbek government acquired a 50% stake in Daewoo in 2005 for an undisclosed sum, and in May 2007 UzDaewooAuto, the car maker, signed a strategic agreement with General Motors-Daewoo Auto and Technology (GMDAT). The government also bought a stake in Turkey's Koc in SamKocAuto, a producer of small buses and lorries. Afterwards, it signed an agreement with Isuzu Motors of Japan to produce Isuzu buses and lorries.

Train links connect many towns within Uzbekistan, as well as neighboring former republics of the Soviet Union. Moreover, after independence two fast-running train systems were established. There is also a large airplane plant that was built during the Soviet era – Tashkent Chkalov Aviation Manufacturing Plant or ТАПОиЧ in Russian. The plant originated during World War II, when production facilities were evacuated south and east to avoid capture by advancing Nazi forces. Until the late 1980s, the plant was one of the leading airplane production centers in the USSR, but with collapse of the Soviet Union its manufacturing equipment became outdated, and most of the workers were laid off. Now it produces only a few planes a year, but with interest from Russian companies growing in it, there are rumors of production-enhancement plans.

Uzbekistan possesses the largest military force in the Central Asian region, having around 65,000 people in uniform. Its structure is inherited from the Soviet armed forces, although it is moving rapidly toward a fully restructured organization, which will eventually be built around light and Special Forces. The Uzbekistan Armed Forces equipment is not modern, and training, while improving, is neither uniform nor adequate for its new mission of territorial security. The government has accepted the arms control obligations of the former Soviet Union, acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (as a non-nuclear state), and supported an active program by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in western Uzbekistan (Nukus and Vozrozhdeniye Island). The Government of Uzbekistan spends about 3.7% of GDP on the military but has received a growing infusion of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and other security assistance funds since 1998. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S., Uzbekistan approved the U.S. Central Command's request for access to a vital military air base, Karshi-Khanabad Airbase, in southern Uzbekistan. However Uzbekistan demanded that the U.S. withdraw from the airbases after the Andijan massacre and the U.S. reaction to this massacre. The last US troops left Uzbekistan in November 2005.

Uzbekistan joined the Commonwealth of Independent States in December 1991. However, it is opposed to reintegration and withdrew from the CIS collective security arrangement in 1999. Since that time, Uzbekistan has participated in the CIS peacekeeping force in Tajikistan and in UN-organized groups to help resolve the Tajikistan and Afghanistan conflicts, both of which it sees as posing threats to its own stability.

Previously close to Washington (which gave Uzbekistan half a billion dollars in aid in 2004, about a quarter of its military budget), the government of Uzbekistan has recently restricted American military use of the airbase at Karshi-Khanabad for air operations in neighboring Afghanistan. Uzbekistan was an active supporter of U.S. efforts against worldwide terrorism and joined the coalitions that have dealt with both Afghanistan and Iraq. The relationship between Uzbekistan and the United States began to deteriorate after the so-called "color revolutions" in Georgia and Ukraine (and to a lesser extent Kyrgyzstan). When the U.S. joined in a call for an independent international investigation of the bloody events at Andijon, the relationship took an additional nosedive, and President Islam Karimov changed the political alignment of the country to bring it closer to Russia and China, countries which chose not to criticize Uzbekistan's leaders for their alleged human rights violations.

In late July 2005, the government of Uzbekistan ordered the United States to vacate an air base in Karshi-Kanabad (near Uzbekistan's border with Afghanistan) within 180 days. Karimov had offered use of the base to the U.S. shortly after 9/11. It is also believed by some Uzbeks that the protests in Andijan were brought about by the U.K. and U.S. influences in the area of Andijan. This is another reason for the hostility between Uzbekistan and the West.

Uzbekistan is a member of the United Nations (UN) (since 2 March 1992), the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), Partnership for Peace (PfP), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It belongs to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) (comprising the five Central Asian countries, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan). In 1999, Uzbekistan joined the GUAM alliance (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova), which was formed in 1997 (making it GUUAM), but pulled out of the organization in 2005. Uzbekistan is also a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and hosts the SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in Tashkent. Uzbekistan joined the new Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO) in 2002. The CACO consists of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It is a founding member of, and remains involved in, the Central Asian Union, formed with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and joined in March 1998 by Tajikistan.

In September 2006, UNESCO presented Islam Karimov an award for Uzbekistan's preservation of its rich culture and traditions. Despite criticism, this seems to be a sign of improving relationships between Uzbekistan and the West.

The month of October 2006 also saw a decrease in the isolation of Uzbekistan from the West. The EU announced that it was planning to send a delegation to Uzbekistan to talk about human rights and liberties, after a long period of hostile relations between the two. Although it is equivocal about whether the official or unofficial version of the Andijan Massacre is true, the EU is evidently willing to ease its economic sanctions against Uzbekistan. Nevertheless, it is generally assumed among Uzbekistan's population that the government will stand firm in maintaining its close ties with the Russian Federation and in its theory that the 2004–2005 protests in Uzbekistan were promoted by the USA and UK.

Uzbekistan has a wide mix of ethnic groups and cultures, with the Uzbek being the majority group. In 1995 about 71% of Uzbekistan's population was Uzbek. The chief minority groups were Russians (8%), Tajiks (5%), Kazaks (4%), Tatars (2.5%) and Karakalpaks (2%). It is said, however, that the number of non-Uzbek people living in Uzbekistan is decreasing as Russians and other minority groups slowly leave and Uzbeks return from other parts of the former Soviet Union.

When Uzbekistan gained independence in 1991, there was concern that Muslim fundamentalism would spread across the region. The expectation was that a country long denied freedom of religious practice would undergo a very rapid increase in the expression of its dominant faith. As of 1994, well over half of Uzbekistan's population was said to be Muslim, though in an official survey few of that number had any real knowledge of the religion or knew how to practice it. However, Islamic observance is increasing in the region.

Uzbekistan has a high literacy rate, with about 99.3% of adults above the age of 15 being able to read and write. However with only 88% of the under-15 population currently enrolled in education, this figure may drop in the future. Uzbekistan has encountered severe budgeting shortfalls in its education program. The education law of 1992 began the process of theoretical reform, but the physical base has deteriorated and curriculum revision has been slow.

Uzbekistan's universities churn out almost 600,000 graduates annually.

Uzbekistan's environmental situation ought to be a major concern among the international community. Decades of questionable Soviet policies in pursuit of greater cotton production have resulted in a catastrophic scenario. The agricultural industry appears to be the main contributor to the pollution and devastation of the air and water in the country.

The Aral Sea disaster is a classic example. The Aral Sea used to be the fourth-largest inland sea on Earth, acting as an influencing factor in the air moisture. Since the 1960s, the decade when the misuse of the Aral Sea water began, it has shrunk to less than 50% of its former area and decreased in volume threefold. Reliable – or even approximate – data have not been collected, stored or provided by any organization or official agency. The numbers of animal deaths and human refugees from the area around the sea can only be guessed at. The question of who is responsible for the crisis – the Soviet scientists and politicians who directed the distribution of water during the 1960s, or the post-Soviet politicians who did not allocate sufficient funding for the building of dams and irrigation systems - remains open.

Due to the virtually insoluble Aral Sea problem, high salinity and contamination of the soil with heavy elements are especially widespread in Karakalpakstan – the region of Uzbekistan adjacent to the Aral Sea. The bulk of the nation's water resources is used for farming, which accounts for nearly 94% of the water usage and contributes to high soil salinity. Heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers for cotton growing further aggravates soil pollution.

For dependent and other territories, see Dependent territory.

1 Partly or significantly in Europe.  2 The Republic of China (Taiwan) is not officially recognized by the United Nations; see Political status of Taiwan. 3 Partly or significantly in Africa.  4 Partly or wholly reckoned in Oceania.

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List of birds of Uzbekistan

This is a list of the bird species recorded in Uzbekistan. The avifauna of Uzbekistan includes a total of 368 species, of which 4 are rare or accidental.

This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families, and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follow the conventions of Clements's 5th edition. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflects this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account. Accidental species are included in the total species counts for Uzbekistan.

The following tags have been used to highlight certain relevant categories. It must be noted that not all species fall into one of these categories. Those that do not are commonly occurring, native species.

Non-passerines: Grebes . Pelicans . Cormorants . Bitterns, Herons and Egrets . Storks . Ibises and Spoonbills . Flamingos . Ducks, Geese and Swans . Osprey . Hawks, Kites and Eagles . Caracaras and Falcons . Pheasants and Partridges . Cranes . Rails, Crakes, Gallinules, and Coots . Bustards . Oystercatchers . Ibisbill . Avocets and Stilts . Thick-knees . Pratincoles and Coursers . Plovers and Lapwings . Sandpipers and allies . Gulls . Terns . Sandgrouse . Pigeons and Doves . Cuckoos and Anis . Typical owls . Nightjars . Swifts . Kingfishers . Bee-eaters . Typical Rollers . Hoopoes . Woodpeckers and allies .

Passerines: Larks . Swallows and Martins . Wagtails and Pipits . Kinglets . Waxwings . Dippers . Wrens . Accentors . Thrushes and allies . Cisticolas and allies . Old World warblers . Old World flycatchers . Monarch flycatchers . Babblers . Parrotbills . Long-tailed tits . Chickadees and Titmice . Nuthatches . Wallcreeper . Treecreepers . Penduline tits . Old World Orioles . Shrikes . Crows, Jays, Ravens and Magpies . Starlings . Buntings, Sparrows, Seedeaters and allies . Siskins, Crossbills and allies . Sparrows .

Grebes are small to medium-large sized freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land. There are 20 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Pelicans are large water birds with a distinctive pouch under the beak. As with other members of the order Pelecaniformes, they have webbed feet with four toes. There are 8 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium-to-large coastal, fish-eating sea-birds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage colouration varies with the majority having mainly dark plumage, some species being black and white, and a few being colourful. There are 38 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The family Ardeidae contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large sized wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more wary. Unlike other long-necked birds suck as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted. There are 61 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked, wading birds with long, stout bills. Storks are mute; bill-clattering is an important mode of stork communication at the nest. Their nests can be large and may be reused for many years. Many species are migratory. There are 19 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The Threskiornithidae is a family of large terrestrial and wading birds which includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings with 11 primary and about 20 secondary feathers. They are strong fliers and despite their size and weight, very capable soarers. There are 36 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Flamingos are gregarious wading birds, usually 3 to 5 feet high, found in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. They are more numerous in the latter. Flamingos filter-feed on shellfish and algae. Their oddly-shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they consume, and are uniquely used upside-down. There are 6 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds that are modified for an aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating. There are 131 species worldwide and 27 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The Pandionidae family contains only one species, the Osprey. The Osprey is a medium large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution.

Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey and include hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight. There are 233 species worldwide and 29 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey. They differ from hawks, eagles, and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their feet. There are 62 species worldwide and 9 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The Phasianidae are a family of terrestrial birds which consists of quails, partridges, snowcocks, francolins, spurfowls, tragopans, monals, pheasants, peafowls and jungle fowls. In general, they are plump (although they may vary in size) and have broad, relatively short wings. There are 156 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Cranes are large, long-legged and long-necked birds. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back. Most have elaborate and noisy courting displays or "dances". There are 15 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. Typically they inhabit dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and be weak fliers. There are 143 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Bustards are large terrestrial birds mainly associated with dry open country and steppes in the Old World. They are omnivorous and nest on the ground. They walk steadily on strong legs and big toes, pecking for food as they go. They have long broad wings with "fingered" wingtips, and striking patterns in flight. Many have interesting mating displays. There are 26 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The oystercatchers are large and noisy plover-like birds, with strong bills used for smashing or prising open molluscs. There are 11 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

The Ibisbill is a bird related to the waders, but sufficiently distinctive to merit its own family. The adult is grey with a white belly, red legs and long down curved bill, and a black face and black breast band.

Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and the stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills. There are 9 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The thick-knees are a group of largely tropical waders in the family Burhinidae. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone, with some species also breeding in temperate Europe and Australia. They are medium to large waders with strong black or yellow black bills, large yellow eyes and cryptic plumage. Despite being classed as waders, most species have a preference for arid or semi-arid habitats. There are 9 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

Glareolidae is a family of wading birds comprising the pratincoles, which have short legs, long pointed wings and long forked tails, and the coursers, which have long legs, short wings and long pointed bills which curve downwards. There are 17 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water, although there are some exceptions. There are 66 species worldwide and 7 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The Scolopacidae are a large diverse family of small to medium sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Variation in length of legs and bills enable different species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. There are 89 species worldwide and 24 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Laridae is a family of medium to large birds seabirds and includes gulls and kittiwakes. They are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. There are 55 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Terns are a group of generally general medium to large sea-birds typically with grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects off the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species now known to live in excess of 25 to 30 years. There are 44 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Sandgrouse have small, pigeon like heads and necks, but sturdy compact bodies. They have long pointed wings and sometimes tails and a fast direct flight. Flocks fly to watering holes at dawn and dusk. Their legs are feathered down to the toes. There are 16 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere. There are 308 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Unlike the cuckoo species of the Old World, North American cuckoos are not brood parasites. There are 138 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak, and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk. There are 195 species worldwide and 7 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds with long wings, short legs and very short bills that usually nest on the ground. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is camouflaged to resemble bark or leaves. There are 86 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Swifts are small aerial birds, spending the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. There are 98 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. There are 93 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

The bee-eaters are a group of near passerine birds in the family Meropidae. Most species are found in Africa but others occur in southern Europe, Madagascar, Australia and New Guinea. They are characterised by richly coloured plumage, slender bodies and usually elongated central tail feathers. All are colorful and have long downturned bills and pointed wings, which give them a swallow-like appearance when seen from afar. There are 26 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Rollers resemble crows in size and build, but are more closely related to the kingfishers and bee-eaters. They share the colourful appearance of those groups with blues and browns predominating. The two inner front toes are connected, but the outer toe is not. There are 12 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

Hoopoes have black, white and orangey-pink colouring with a large erectile crest on their head. There are 2 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

Woodpeckers are small to medium sized birds with chisel like beaks, short legs, stiff tails and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward, and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks. There are 218 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Larks are small terrestrial birds with often extravagant songs and display flights. Most larks are fairly dull in appearance. Their food is insects and seeds. There are 91 species worldwide and 12 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterized by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Their adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and short bills with wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base. There are 75 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The Motacillidae are a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. They are slender, ground feeding insectivores of open country. There are 54 species worldwide and 9 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The kinglets or crests are a small group of birds often included in the Old World warblers, but frequently given family status because they also resemble the titmice. There are 7 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

The waxwings are a group of passerine birds characterized by soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. In the Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its name. These are arboreal birds of northern forests. They live on insects in summer and berries in winter. There are 3 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

Dippers are a group of perching birds whose habitat includes aquatic environments in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. They are named for their bobbing or dipping movements. There are 5 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The wrens are mainly small and inconspicuous except for their loud songs. These birds have short wings and a thin down-turned bill. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous. There are 80 species worldwide (of which all but one are New World species) and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

The accentors are in the only bird family, Prunellidae, which is completely endemic to the Palearctic. They are small, fairly drab species superficially similar to sparrows. There are 13 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs. There are 335 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The Cisticolidae are warblers found mainly in warmer southern regions of the Old World. They are generally very small birds of drab brown or grey appearance found in open country such as grassland or scrub. There are 111 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

The family Sylviidae is a group of small insectivorous passerine birds. The Sylviidae mainly occur as breeding species, as the common name implies, in Europe, Asia and, to a lesser extent Africa. Most are of generally undistinguished appearance, but many have distinctive songs. There are 291 species worldwide and 33 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Old World flycatchers are a large group of small passerine birds native to the Old World. They are mainly small arboreal insectivores. The appearance of these birds is very varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls. There 274 species worldwide and 22 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The monarch flycatchers are small to medium-sized insectivorous passerines, which hunt by flycatching. There are 99 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

The babblers or timaliids are somewhat diverse in size and coloration, but are characterised by soft fluffy plumage. There are 270 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

The parrotbills are a group of birds native to East and Southeast Asia, though feral populations are known from elsewhere. They are generally small, long-tailed birds which inhabit reedbeds and similar habitats. There are 20 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

Long-tailed tits are a group of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They make woven bag nests in trees. Most eat a mixed diet that includes insects. There are 9 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

The Paridae are mainly small stocky woodland species with short stout bills. Some have crests. They are adaptable birds, with a mixed diet including seeds and insects. There are species 59 worldwide and 8 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Nuthatches are small woodland birds. They have the unusual ability to climb down trees head first, unlike other birds which can only go upwards. Nuthatches have big heads, short tails and powerful bills and feet. There are 24 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

The Wallcreeper is a small bird with stunning crimson, grey and black plumage, related to the nuthatch family.

Treecreepers are small woodland birds, brown above and white below. They have thin pointed down-curved bills, which they use to extricate insects from bark. They have stiff tail feathers, like woodpeckers, which they use to support themselves on vertical trees. There are 6 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

The penduline tits are a group of small passerine birds, related to the true tits. They are insectivores. There are 13 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The Old World Orioles are colourful passerine birds. They are not related to the New World orioles. There are 29 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Uzbekistan.

Shrikes are passerine birds known for their habit of catching other birds and small animals and impaling the uneaten portions of their bodies on thorns. A typical shrike's beak is hooked, like a bird of prey. There are 31 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers, and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size for the bird order Passeriformes. Some of the larger species show high levels of learning behavior. There are 120 species worldwide and 11 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. Their flight is strong and direct, and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country. They eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen. There are 125 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

The emberizids are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with a distinctively shaped bill. In Europe, most species are named as buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as Sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns. There are species 275 worldwide and 11 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Finches are seed-eating passerine birds, that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have 12 tail feathers and 9 primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well. There are 137 species worldwide and 19 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

Sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small, plump, brown or grey birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed-eaters, and they also consume small insects. There are 35 species worldwide and 7 species which occur in Uzbekistan.

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Islam in Uzbekistan

Madrassa in Samarkand

Islam is by far the dominant religion in Uzbekistan. In the early 1990s, many of the Russians remaining in the republic (about 8% of the population) were Orthodox Christians. An estimated 93,000 Jews also were present. Despite its predominance, the practice of Islam is far from monolithic. Many versions of the faith have been practiced in Uzbekistan. The conflict of Islamic tradition with various agendas of reform or secularization throughout the 20th century has left the outside world with a confused notion of Islamic practices in Central Asia. In Uzbekistan the end of Soviet power did not bring an upsurge of Islamic fundamentalism, as many had predicted, but rather a gradual reacquaintance with the precepts of the faith. However after 2000, there seems to be a rise of support in favour of the Islamists.

Soviet authorities did not prohibit the practice of Islam as much as they sought to co-opt and utilize religion to placate a population that often was unaware of the tenets of its faith. After its introduction in the 7th century, Islam in many ways formed the basis of life in Uzbekistan. The Soviet government encouraged continuation of the role played by Islam in secular society. During the Soviet era, Uzbekistan had sixty-five registered mosques and as many as 3,000 active mullahs and other Muslim clerics. For almost forty years, the Muslim Board of Central Asia, the official, Soviet-approved governing agency of the Muslim faith in the region, was based in Tashkent. The grand mufti who headed the board met with hundreds of foreign delegations each year in his official capacity, and the board published a journal on Islamic issues, Muslims of the Soviet East.

However, the Muslims working or participating in any of these organizations were carefully screened for political reliability. Furthermore, as the Uzbekistani government ostensibly was promoting Islam with the one hand, it was working hard to eradicate it with the other. The government sponsored official anti-religious campaigns and severe crackdowns on any hint of an Islamic movement or network outside of the control of the state.

Moscow's efforts to eradicate and co-opt Islam not only sharpened differences between Muslims and others. They also greatly distorted the understanding of Islam among Uzbekistan's population and created competing Islamic ideologies among the Central Asians themselves.

For the most part, however, in the first years of independence Uzbekistan is seeing a resurgence of a more secular Islam, and even that movement is in its very early stages. According to a public opinion survey conducted in 1994, interest in Islam is growing rapidly, but personal understanding of Islam by Uzbeks remains limited or distorted. For example, about half of ethnic Uzbek respondents professed belief in Islam when asked to identify their religious faith. Among that number, however, knowledge or practice of the main precepts of Islam was weak. Despite a reported spread of Islam among Uzbekistan's younger population, the survey suggested that Islamic belief is still weakest among the younger generations. Few respondents showed interest in a form of Islam that would participate actively in political issues. Thus, the first years of post-Soviet religious freedom seem to have fostered a form of Islam related to the Uzbek population more in traditional and cultural terms than in religious ones, weakening Karimov's claims that a growing widespread fundamentalism poses a threat to Uzbekistan's survival.

Experts assume that Islam itself was probably not the root cause of growing unrest as much as a vehicle for expressing other grievances that are more immediate causes of dissension and despair. The people view political Islam as a solution to these problems. The Uzbek rulers strongly deny that. They blame the May 2005 unrest in Uzbekistan on an aim to overthrow the government of Uzbekistan in order to make it a Central Asian theocratic republic. Two Islamist groups in the nation that have advocated a revolutionary overthrow of the rulers are Akromiya and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Hizb ut-Tahrir have denied involvement in the unrest, but expressed sympathy and solidarity with the victims of the unrest, firmly laying blame on the repressive practices and corruption of the government.

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Uzbekistan at the 2004 Summer Olympics

Flag of Uzbekistan.svg

Uzbekistan competed at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

The lone bright spot for the Uzbekistani team in Athens was Asian champion Lyubov Perepelova's run to the semifinals in the women's 100 meters. This was marred, however, by the positive drug test of shot putter Olga Shchukina. Asian decathlon champion Vitaliy Smirnov had three new personal bests on his way to a 17th place finish. Perepelova and Guzel Khubbieva were the only Uzbekistani in athletics to advance to at least the second round in their competition.

Andreyev did not compete in the last two events.

Shchukina tested positive for Clenbuterol, a banned substance, and was disqualified and excluded. She had finished 19th in her group and failed to advance.

Uzbekistan sent nine boxers to Athens. All nine made it past the round of 32, with five victories and four byes. Four of the boxers fell in the round of 16 (two of which had not had matches in the round of 32). Three more barely missed medalling by being defeated in the quarterfinals, while the two that had won their quarterfinal bouts both lost in the semifinals to earn bronze medals. These two bronze medals put the Uzbekis in a four-way tie for 12th place in the boxing medals count. The combined record of the nine boxers was 12-9.

No Uzbekistani boats made a final in Athens, but there were some solid results, especially in both K1 500 metre competitions, where decent mid-table finishes were recorded. Although the K4 1000m crew appears to have done well to finish 10th, there were only 10 boats in the competition, and the Uzbekistani entry was the only one not to make the final.

Uzbekistan's only cyclist at the 2004 Games finished in a 17 man group almost 9 minutes behind the leaders. Lagutin stayed with the main group through the first 14 laps, but when the pace ramped up as the finish line approached, he dropped back.

Oxana Chusovitina attempted to qualify in only 1 event, the vault, and fell well short, finishing last and producing the lowest scored vault of the qualification round with her first effort. Considering that Chusovitina was an Olympic gold medalist in the team event for the Unified Team, and had won a gold medal at the 2003 Worlds on the vault, along with 8 other medals at the World Championships and 3 at the Asian Games, this was a surprisingly poor performance.

The only Uzbekistani gymnast on the trampoline fared much better than her artistic counterpart, finishing only a point short of qualifying for the final thanks to two consistent routines that both placed 11th.

Uzbekistani judoka had a dismal Games, winning only a single bout from the 7 contested, the largest delegation in the competition to not have at least two wins. Interestingly, not a single Uzbekistani judoka advanced to the repechage, again making them the largest team to have such a dubious honour.

Of the three boats Uzbekistan sent to the Olympics, only the single sculler Tchernenko finished ahead of more than one other boat. Tchernenko's qualification for the D final, avoiding the five weakest boats in the E final, was the rowing team's high point. While the other boats finished higher in overall ranking than Tchernenko, these positions were last and second last in their respective events.

The lone male shooter, Skoromnov's best showing came in the 3 position rifle event, where he came only 8 points short of reaching a qualification position. He also shot a perfect series during the prone event, though was not as strong overall there. Alyona Aksyonova was not as successful, finishing ahead of just four other shooters in each of her events.

None of the 15 Uzbekistani swimmers at the Athens Games were close to qualifying for a semifinal, and most were near the back of the field. Ravil Nachaev in the men's 50 metre Freestyle was the only swimmer to place in the top half of his event, while Nikita Polyakov finished the men's 400 metre IM more than a minute behind Michael Phelps' world record, and almost 30 seconds behind the next-to-last finisher.

The only table tennis player from Uzbekistan at the Athens Olympics was Manzura Inoyatova, who was ranked 371st in the world. She lost her first match in straight sets.

Neither woman entered in Taekwondo won a match, but Kaydashova's bye into the quarterfinals of the under 57kg division led to a great medal opportunity, as she actually led her Mexican opponent 6-2 after a strong 2nd round, where she scored with two offensive and two defensive kicks. Salazar Blanco came storming back in the final round to force a tie, and the three judge panel awarded the Mexican the match on superiority.

The Uzbekistani weightlifting team did not challenge for a medal in any of their events. Saidov was second last at 94 kg, while the other two competitors had mid-table finishes. Alexander Urinov was the second lightest competitor in the 105 kg division at 102.22 kg, enabling him to win a tiebreak for 8th place.

Freestyle Wrestling was clearly Uzbekistan's most successful event, as they earned two of their five medals and the team as a whole went 12-5. Artur Taymazov had earned a Silver medal in Sydney, and with the defending champion not participating, Taymazov's route was clear. Still, the dominance of his performance was impressive, as only one of his opponents could make it the full length of a match, and only that opponent managed to score a point against him. The silver medal of Magomed Ibragimov was also impressive, but for different reasons.

While Tamayzov entered as World Champion and favourite, Ibragimov had no such status. While he did win the 2003 World Junior championship, and the final Olympic Qualifying tournament, Ibragimov had lost both of his matches at the 2002 and 2003 Worlds, and lost out to two of his opponents in Athens, Heidari and Krupniakov at the 2002 Asian Games. He barley managed to beat both at the Olympics, and made his way to a surprise final spot before succumbing to Gatsalov.

The first Uzbekistani gold medalist of the Athens games, Alexandr Dokturishvili was born in Georgia and competed for his country of birth until 2001, including winning a World Junior Championship and a European Championship. In 2003, he began competing for Uzbekistan, and after winning the Asian Games and the Olympic Qualifying tournament, won all five of his matches to earn Uzbekistan's first ever Olympic gold medal in Wrestling.

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Source : Wikipedia