Biography

Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s Journey: From Prime Minister to President

Shavkat Mirziyoyev was born in Zaamin district, Jizzakh region, Uzbekistan, on July 24, 1957. Mirziyoyev is an Uzbek politician who held the positions of president (2016–) and prime minister (2003–16). A more youthful aide to the authoritarian leader Islam Karimov (1991–2016), he rose to prominence for overseeing economic growth both prior to and during his presidency.

Early Life and Career

On July 24, 1957, Mirziyoyev was born in the Uzbek SSR’s Jizzakh Region. He was purportedly born in the village of Yakhtan in the Leninabad Oblast (now the Sughd Region) of Tajikistan, according to certain media outlets. There have even been unverified claims that he is a Tajik. Following an examination by multiple journalists, it was discovered that Mirziyoyev’s father’s side grandpa was originally from Yakhtan, and that Mirziyoyev is Uzbek, not Tajik. Prior to his passing, his father, Miromon Mirziyoyevich Mirziyoyev, spent the majority of his life practicing medicine. He was employed as the chief medical officer of the Zaamin tuberculosis dispensary. In April 1944, O’rinbek Yoqubov, a World War II veteran and Miromon’s cousin, was named a Soviet hero. Marifat, Shavkat’s mother, contracted tuberculosis while working as a nurse at the Zaamin tuberculosis dispensary, and eventually passed away at a young age. Following his wife’s passing, Miromon Mirziyoyev wed a Tatarstani woman a second time.

Mirziyoyev received his diploma from the Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Melioration in 1981. He is a Candidate in the Technological Sciences (Ph.D.). In the latter part of the 1980s, he became a member of the Soviet Communist Party. He was chosen to serve as a deputy in the Supreme Soviet, the final legislature of the Uzbek SSR before Uzbekistan gained its independence in 1991, at the beginning of 1990. The State Legislative Assembly Building and Senate in Tashkent hosted the ceremony.

Career in Politics

From 1996 to September 2001, he held the position of governor (Hakim) of the Jizzakh Region. From September 2001 until his nomination as prime minister in 2003, he held the position of governor of the Samarqand Region. On December 12, 2003, President Islam Karimov nominated him for prime minister, and the Uzbek parliament gave its approval. Prime Minister Oştkir Sultonov was succeeded by him. He had Ergash Shoismatov as his deputy.

On September 25, 2006, South Korean Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook and Mirziyoyev met in Tashkent. They inked a number of agreements, one of which required Uzbekistan to supply South Korea with 300 tons of Uzbek uranium ore year between 2010 and 2014. Through the agreement, U.S. businesses who previously served as intermediaries for South Korean imports of Uzbek uranium ore are circumvented. Han also had meetings with Speaker of the Parliament Erkin Xalilov and President Islam Karimov. In the fields of energy, agriculture, building, architecture, and information technology, Han and Mirziyoyev increased collaboration. Between 2005 and 2006, trade between South Korea and Uzbekistan rose to $565 million, an almost 40% rise.

During his tenure as prime minister from 2003 to 2016, Mirziyoyev “oversaw the cotton production system, and as the previous governor of Jizzakh and Samarkand, he was in charge of two cotton-producing regions,” according to a 2017 report by Human Rights Watch on forced and child labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry. The 2016 harvest was characterized by widespread involuntary labor mobilization under threat of punishment, even though Mirziyoyev was still in charge of cotton production as acting president.” According to the article, Mirziyoyev declared, “Go to the homes of farmers in debt, who can’t repay their credit, take their cars, livestock, and if there are none, take the slate from their roofs!” during a 2015 conference call with local authorities and farmers.

Presidency

Unexpected attempts at economic liberalization and reform distinguished his administration. His policies encouraged foreign investment, removed a number of trade restrictions, and permitted the currency to fluctuate. The country’s relations with the rest of the world improved, most notably with Tajikistan. A few years after Karimov had threatened to go to war over Tajikistan building the Rogun Dam, which posed a serious threat to Uzbekistan’s water security, Mirziyoyev offered to work with its neighbor upstream in its hydraulic endeavors. He allowed the press more access. Additionally, he showed at least a passing familiarity with human rights problems; in 2019, he freed political prisoners and allowed protests, although he moved slowly to outlaw forced labor in the cotton industry.

Even with Mirziyoyev’s policy changes, there were still worries about the government’s continued authoritarian tendencies while he was in office. By eliminating, marginalizing, and openly denouncing a large portion of the old guard elite, Mirziyoyev demonstrated his dedication to change. However, by substituting them with his own allies, he also demonstrated his resolve to carry out his plans with the least amount of opposition.

Mirziyoyev won a second term in 2021 in an election in which there was no strong opposition. He made constitutional revisions a top priority for his next term in an effort to continue liberalizing Uzbekistan. New civil rights (such as habeas corpus), individual liberties (like the right to privacy protection), social welfare guarantees (like the right to housing), and safeguards for a free market economy (like the right to engage in business) were all codified in the reforms. However, there was some dispute about them. Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic in the northwest of the country, had the power to secede from the country’s constitution eliminated in early versions; but, after violent protests against it in July 2022, that clause was removed. A referendum on the amended constitution was scheduled for April 2023, but there wasn’t much of a backlash from the general population.

Additionally, Mirziyoyev was able to prolong his presidency thanks to the constitutional amendments. With the adoption of the amended constitution, Mirziyoyev’s two-term restriction was reset and presidential terms were increased from five to seven years. Mirziyoyev demanded an early presidential election just a few days after the new constitution went into force in May. When the election was held in July, he won with a landslide, giving the opposition little chance to organize.

Personal Life

Mirziyoyev has two sisters, a half-brother, and sister. Mirziyoyev is married to Ziroatkhon Hoshimova and has two daughters, a son and five grandchildren.  The eldest daughter of Said Mirziyoyev heads the sector for communications and information policy of the executive office of the administration of the head of state. His eldest son-in-law, Oybek Tursunov, is the present head of Mirziyoyev’s presidential administration, while his younger son-in-law, Otabek Shahanov, is the head of the presidential security services.

Since becoming office, Mirziyoyev has constructed a new home for himself in Qibray District. It may feature a presidential highway and an interior designed with Swarovski crystals and Argentinian marble slabs.

According to reports from February 2021, Mirziyoyev was constructing a gated mountain property with a new reservoir. Situated around 100 kilometers away from Tashkent by automobile, the compound houses an opulent villa that was constructed for Mirziyoyev and his family. Although the property and the nearby reservoir are only mentioned in a few publicly accessible official papers, the development is believed to have cost several hundred million dollars by two sources. The reservoir was mostly finished by the year 2019.

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