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Uzbekistan: Political Science Studies Terminated

(Sept. 15, 2015) It was reported on September 1, 2015, that the Minister of Higher and Special Education of Uzbekistan, Alisher Vakhabov, had issued an order cancelling the teaching of political science in Uzbekistan’s universities. (Uzbek Officials Renounced Political Studies, RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY (Sept. 1, 2015) (in Russian).) A photocopy of the order, which was signed on August 24, 2015, but not officially published, is available on the Radio Ozodlik (Uzbek version of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) website. (Id.)

According to the order, political science cannot be recognized as a separate field of study because, in the opinion of the officials, there is no research methodology specific to this discipline, it is redundant because its individual features can be duplicated in the content of other courses taught in the universities, the literature in the field of political science is based exclusively on Western publications and does not reflect national traditions, and the “Uzbek model of development” has not been taken into consideration by Uzbekistani scholars of political science. (Id.) The order provides for substituting political studies with a new course entitled “The Theory and Practice of Building a Democratic Society in Uzbekistan.” (Id.)

Some observers note that this decision follows the 2010 ban on admitting students to universities to pursue a major in political studies, and the termination of awarding of degrees in political science since 2014. According to the Meduza news portal, a “political science department continued to operate at the National University of Uzbekistan teaching political science to non-majors. The latest decision will eliminate all taught political science courses.” (Uzbekistan Bans Political Science, MEDUZA (Sept. 1, 2015).)

In the view of some commentators, the Uzbekistan government action was undertaken “in an apparent bid to tighten ideological control over its citizens because of increased suspicion of any kind of outside influence on their minds.” (Uzbekistan’s Increasingly Isolationist Regime Abolishes Political Science, BBC MONITORING (Sept. 2, 2015), Open Source Center online subscription database, ID No. IML2015090252706451.)