Tue, 29 Sep 2020

TASHKENT -- Authorities in Uzbekistan's capital, Tashkent, have scrapped a controversial plan to merge some neighborhoods of the capital with the surrounding region after protests by residents who would have been pushed outside of the city limits.

Hasan Qalandarov, the head of the Orikzor neighborhood in the Uchtepa district of Tashkent, told local residents on August 11 that municipal authorities in Tashkent decided to cancel the plan after discussing the concerns and demands of residents.

Mirzohid Khidirov, the deputy governor of the Zangiota district in the Tashkent region, confirmed to RFE/RL, on August 11 that the redistricting plan has been dropped.

Hundreds of residents of several Tashkent neighborhoods had joined street protests against the plan since August 6.

RFE/RL's Uzbek Service covered those protests extensively while state media provided only limited information.

The protesters told RFE/RL they did not want to lose their status as Tashkent residents because it would cause problems for placing their children in better schools and for getting jobs that require employees to be residents of the city.

They also told RFE/RL the move would lead to changes in documents about the properties where they live, most likely causing property values to fall.

The protests began after a television report on August 5 said a plan to merge parts of Tashkent's Uchtepa district with the Tashkent region had been outlined in accordance with an order by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev.

Officials said the redistricting of neighborhoods was necessary 'to eliminate disparities in administrative boundaries of the capital...and to improve infrastructure to make it more convenient for the population.'

Protests against government decisions are rare in the tightly controlled Uzbekistan.

Mirziyoev has promised reforms and more freedoms for Uzbeks since he came to power following the death in 2016 of Uzbekistan's authoritarian President Islam Karimov.

His promises have included greater involvement of ordinary citizens in decisions about social, economic, and political developments in Uzbekistan.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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