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Long, hot summer ahead

"Long, hot summer ahead" Continued...

Issue: "Judicial filibuster deal," June 4, 2005

Meanwhile, any revolution in Uzbekistan will likely be violent, unlike the heartwarming and bloodless turnovers in Georgia and Ukraine. Who would replace Mr. Karimov is an unanswered question; the democratic opposition is splintered and exiled, with no one charismatic chief to lead the charge. "There's a strong struggle between the minister of the interior and the minister of the security services," said Adolat Najimova, director of Radio Free Europe's Uzbek service. "If one of them comes to power it will basically remain the same. The only hope is that democratic forces will unite."

The Andijan uprising sparked riots in another Fergana Valley town, Korasuv, which briefly caused government forces to flee. Residents re-opened a bridge closed two years ago leading across the border to a Kyrgyzstan bazaar. By May 19, however, Uzbek forces had regained control and arrested local rebel leader Bakhtiyor Rakhimov. But hundreds of refugees have been fleeing through border towns into Kyrgyzstan pleading for asylum.

For now Mr. Karimov is resisting international calls for an independent investigation, largely barring diplomats, journalists, and human-rights researchers from the restive cities. Nonetheless, the development worker in Tashkent believes that Uzbekistan has reached a turning point. "I think this changes everything," he said. "If the government doesn't change its tactics-and I don't have any indication that they will-we are in for one hell of a struggle. It is a watershed moment most definitely. The long hot summer ahead will be most interesting."

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