There is a new hotbed of tension in Central Asia. Shots are fired and arrests are made in Karakalpakstan, a sovereign (as per the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan) republic within Uzbekistan. President Shavkat Mirzieva by his decree introduced a state of emergency in the republic from today until August 2. The curfew is in effect from 9 pm to 7 am. Entry and exit to Karakalpakstan are restricted, any mass gatherings are prohibited, and objects of vital activity of the population are taken under protection.
Mass protests broke out in the republic on Friday in the capital city of Nukus. The reason for dissatisfaction was the decision of Tashkent to limit the autonomy of the republic, to remove from the Constitution the right to secession of Karakalpakstan from Uzbekistan. The amendments were supposed to be adopted along with the zeroing of presidential terms, which makes it possible for Shavkat Mirziyoyev to be elected for the third time as head of state.
After the detention of protest leader Dauletmurat Tazhimuratov by the security forces, waves of people from the republic's settlements began to flock to the capital. President Mirziyoyev arrived in Nukus on Saturday, where he stated that amendments restricting the sovereignty of Karakalpakstan would not be made to the Constitution, but this did not calm the people. Gathered in the central square, people chanted “azatlyk!” (freedom) and demanded the withdrawal of Karakalpakstan from Uzbekistan. Several people were killed in clashes with law enforcement forces. Aman Sagidullayev, leader of the Alga, Karakalpakstan opposition movement, who is in exile, said yesterday that thirty-five people were killed by security forces' bullets and grenades. Today, Sagidullaev, through YouTube, called on the Karakalpaks from seventy years to defend the sovereignty of the republic, while not lynching the military, to go out to protest only with the flag of the republic. The oppositionist also said that he would return to his homeland immediately after participating in an international conference on Karakalpakstan.
The Karakalpaks are a Turkic people who received their ethnonym from their headdress, black fur hats-kalpaks. Some researchers associate their origin with the "black hoods" and the Pechenegs, known from the ancient Russian chronicles. Others are withdrawn from the Nogai Horde. According to this version, the Nogai-Karakalpaks migrated closer to Khorezm after the war with the Kalmyks beyond the Volga steppes. Their language is almost identical to Kazakh. In the 18th century, the descendants of the Siberian Khan Kuchum, who left for the southern steppes after the suppression of the Bashkir uprisings, in which they took an active part, were the Karakalpak sultans.
Karakalpak autonomy at the dawn of the power of the Soviets was part of the Khorezm SSR. In 1925-1930 it was part of Kazakhstan. In 1930-1936. in Russia. In 1936 it became part of Uzbekistan.
Even before the collapse of the USSR, Karakalpakstan declared state sovereignty. In 1993, he signed an interstate agreement on joining Uzbekistan.
The first paragraph 1 of the article of the Constitution of the Republic states: “Karakalpakstan is a sovereign democratic republic, which is part of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The names of the state "Republic of Karakalpakstan" and "Karakalpakstan" are equivalent. The third paragraph adds: "The Republic of Karakalpakstan has the right to secede from the Republic of Uzbekistan on the basis of a general referendum of the people of Karakalpakstan."
The republic, which occupies about 40% of the territory of Uzbekistan, is home to about 400,000 Karakalpaks, the same number of Uzbeks, 300,000 Kazakhs, 60,000 Turkmens, 20,000 Russians, 10,000 Koreans, 8,000 Tatars.
Unrest continued in Nukus last night. Videos of arrests, bloody footage of clashes with special forces are now circulating on social networks. The oppositionists demand the withdrawal of the military of Uzbekistan from the territory of Karakalpakstan and call for UN and OSCE missions to Nukus. Media in Uzbekistan report on the stabilization of the situation in the republic.