Freedom in the World
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Uzbekistan continued to rebuild relations with the United States and the European Union in 2009 amid growing cooperation on logistical support for NATO operations in Afghanistan. At the same time, the government of President Islam Karimov maintained repressive state controls at home, denying citizens their basic human rights.
Uzbekistan began repairing relations with the EU and United States in 2007, eventually agreeing to the overland transportation of nonmilitary supplies to support NATO operations in Afghanistan. In 2009, the EU lifted the last of the sanctions it had imposed after Andijon. Ties with Russia were mixed during the year, with significant Russian involvement in Uzbekistan’s energy sector and strenuous Uzbek objections to Russian plans for a new military base in neighboring Kyrgyzstan.
Uzbekistan is not an electoral democracy. President Islam Karimov uses the dominant executive branch to repress all political opposition. His December 2007 reelection appeared to flout constitutional rules on term limits. A dubious referendum in 2002 replaced the country’s single-chamber legislature with a bicameral parliament consisting of a 120-seat lower house (with members elected by popular vote for five-year terms) and a 100-member upper house, or Senate (with 84 members elected by regional councils and 16 appointed by the president).