Uzbekistan, Tashkent – Podrobno.uz. One of the most resonant issues of recent times – the ban on appealing to government agencies in languages other than the national one – was resolved only thanks to the deputies of the People’s Democratic Party of Uzbekistan (PDPU), who strongly opposed it. As their leader, Ulugbek Inoyatov, noted, and how, for example, Uzbekistan people who do not know Uzbek will turn to the ambulance or the police. The person will feel bad, but he or his relative will be told: please speak the state language?
The PDPU is the only left-wing party in the country, which competitors often call the heir to the Communist Party. On the one hand, there is some truth in this: the ideology of the party is based on an orientation towards the social development of the state. But the party claims that they are the most popular political organization, which, unlike others, does not advertise in social networks, but works up to its sleeves “in the field”, solving the problems of citizens.
The Podrobno.uz correspondent talked with the Chairman of the Central Council of the People’s Democratic Party of Uzbekistan Ulugbek Inoyatov about whether socialism is possible in modern conditions, why some officials do not want to change their thinking, as well as the plans that the party sets for itself if it wins the Presidential Election.
– The population in the country often says that all parties are the same. This is probably because the parties do not have a clearly expressed ideology. What is your opinion on this issue, and what is the ideology of the PDPU?
– From the outside, it may seem to people that all parties are the same. They are all fighting for power to realize their program goals. But this is how it should be, all over the world this is one of the important functions of parties. This is what unites all parties according to their place in society and the system of representative state power.
The question is not ideological differences either. Voters in elections do not vote for ideology – they are not politicians and ideological differences do not interest them. They vote for the practical measures that one or another party proposes to solve problems that affect their vital interests and needs. And the parties have different approaches to identifying problems and ways of solving them.
Our main goal is the formation in the country of the foundations of a social state that reliably guarantees the implementation of social rights enshrined in the Constitution and provides everyone who needs it with social protection sufficient to meet their basic life needs. That is why, in accordance with the generally accepted classification today, we are a leftist party.
Yes, on some issues we intersect with other parties, but at the same time, we disagree. For example, we, just like our competitor – UzLiDeP – advocate the creation of jobs. On this issue, we advocate the construction of large factories, the creation of large agricultural enterprises that could provide more people with stable work and constant income. Liberals also advocate a significant increase in the share of industry in the country’s economy.
However, at the same time, we consider it necessary to strengthen the regulatory role of the state in a socially-oriented economy. UzLiDeP is in favor of market liberalization and reduction of the state’s presence in the economy.
Our electorate is vulnerable segments of the population: pensioners, large families, unemployed people, orphans, people with disabilities. The state must protect them all. After all, if there is no social protection, destabilization will begin: the economy and tranquility will begin to collapse. This makes us different from others.
Some might say that we are protecting those who do not benefit the state. But jobs must be created for a person to be able to work and benefit their country. Create conditions for people with disabilities, they will also begin to contribute to universal development, at the same time they will be able to adapt and find their place in society. Yes, such jobs are more expensive for the employer: they need special conditions and rehabilitation.
Or take migrants. How many of them went abroad on their own? They have families, children, they need to be fed. Uzbekistan cannot yet provide everyone with work: our labor resources are very large, only young people make up 60% of the total population. Therefore, it is necessary to teach the professions in demand, create conditions so that they can legally and with dignity work abroad.
Liberals, for their programmatic purposes, are guided by the interests of entrepreneurs, seeking to create favorable conditions for the development of small and medium-sized businesses. They consider this direction to be the main one in ensuring employment and stable incomes of the population.
And such differences are the engine of society. No party can cover all the problems of society. Therefore, each takes on some part, fulfilling the duty to protect and promote the interests of their electorate.
– Modern global development shows that capitalism has not met the hopes of many states, many are again trying to introduce some models of hybrid socialism, when the state shows more concern for the population. This position is close to you, do you share the socialist theses?
– I think the world has long ceased to fit into the primitive black-and-white scheme of dividing the state and social structure, economic relations into capitalism and socialism. From the point of view of the state’s concern for the interests of the population, today it is quite possible to call the United Nations the “main socialist”, which in 2015 approved the Sustainable Development Goals for the period up to 2030 by most of the more than 190 countries of the world.
Yes, at the head of all our goals is the implementation of an effective social policy that provides strong social protection to everyone who needs it. And we believe that the state is the main protector of its citizens. However, we do not share the principles of democratic socialism that form the basis of the ideology and strategy of the activities of the Social Democratic parties that are part of the Socialist International.
We are for the people’s democracy, which supports and encourages active participation in the social, economic and political life of all people, regardless of their age, gender, disability, nationality, religion and social status. Including the strata of the population in need of social protection.
– Some deputies and party leaders are very active in social networks. The PDPU, in turn, does not often appear in the information space. Do you use social networks as a tool for monitoring reactions to certain events, communication with voters?
– Of course, we use the Internet and other tools: we have a website, channels, a newspaper, we read news in the media, polls “Public Opinion”. And, of course, when it is impossible to remain silent, we act. But our words and actions are more balanced and restrained. After all, our party is 30 years old, and I think that we are more fundamental and consider it necessary to spend more time on concrete matters.
We have 10 thousand primary party organizations, in each district, there is a deputy group that works directly with the people, identifies problems, and takes measures to resolve them. We are in active contact with them, this is our strength at places. And if we read about something like this on the Internet, we ask the deputies to study the problem locally and conduct our own investigation.
Based on local agendas, we develop our own projects and programs. Not every party can boast of this. Voter confidence must be won not by words, but by actions. For example, in recent years we have been paying great attention to the problems of people with disabilities. And we are glad that the country’s leadership listens and makes some decisions on the issues we raise. They began to be allocated social housing, to find jobs.
– The majority of deputies of your faction voted against the proposal that all citizens of Uzbekistan should apply to the authorities only in the Uzbek language. Why?
– We disagreed only with Article 12 of the draft law. The people of Uzbekistan are multinational, and their representatives have the right to speak their own language. This is included in the Constitution. Based on this, we demanded that, on an equal basis with the state one, it was possible to speak in other languages.
Can you imagine how people who do not know Uzbek turn to the ambulance or the police? A person feels bad, he is in trouble, but he or his relative will be told: please, speak the state language. This is absurd. Is a mockery. Therefore, many of our deputies opposed this point. We need to be more humane towards those who will obey the laws that we pass.
– According to Alisher Qodirov, the members of the People’s Democratic Party have a frivolous attitude towards the state language. How do you react to this statement? And what needs to be done to develop the Uzbek language?
– It is quite natural that each country should ensure the development of the state language. But, I will say this, the rejected article is not fundamental in this regard, it does not affect the development of the Uzbek language. In general, its priority is fairly well protected by the rest of the points.
The law on the state language is already 30 years old, and we do not even have a specific methodology of the Uzbek language. We need to think about a scientific approach to learning Uzbek, about translating sources into our language and our achievements into other languages. Our scientists are still arguing on what graph should be the Uzbek language. In addition, we know that there are standards of foreign languages – levels A, B, C determine what competencies a person should possess, how many words he should know, at what level to read, write, speak. However, the standard of proficiency in the Uzbek language has not yet been developed. This is what you need to think about, work on it.
– How do you feel about the statement of your colleague regarding the compulsory treatment and eviction of persons with a non-traditional orientation from the country?
– Let’s move on to the next question. This is a very sensitive question. We will not comment on it. It concerns a small number of people, but annoys a lot of people. Let's better talk about the global.
– Recently it was reported about the beating of a PDPU deputy in Boysun district. Do they often use physical violence against deputies?
– During the two years of my chairmanship, I have heard of only one such case. More often, local council deputies are deprived of the status of a deputy for objectionable speeches, allegedly for corrupt actions. However, it is not known whether these corrupt actions were proven. The deprivation of the mandate occurs only if there is a court decision. The mandate is given by the people, and they are deprived of the decision of the people’s representatives by voting.
– By the way, recently a group of Andijan deputies sent an open letter to the President. What does the party think about this situation? To what extent do local deputies have enough powers, do the local authorities put pressure on them?
– This is an outrageous case. The law stipulates the rights of deputies, but there is no regulation of local councils. They conduct their work according to different instructions. For the deputies of the Legislative Chamber, such regulations exist. It defines the boundaries of the powers and rights of the people’s representatives. There is no such clarity in local councils. Probably, this omission is the reason for such situations.
In general, deputies are protected by law, but this is more a matter of culture and ethics of some officials. Today, due to the high information content of the environment, the psychology of society is changing before our eyes, people show an immediate reaction to illegal actions. However, for some officials, everything remains the same. Their khan views do not allow them to understand that high office does not give him the right to bang his fist on the table and say that it will be as he wants. Everything should be within the law. And if you make them feel the punishment, it is obvious that they too will someday understand that the time has come for a change.
– What plans does the party set for this year? The PDPU has already begun preparations for the Presidential Elections, what do you offer to the people of Uzbekistan?
– We have very big plans. Back in early March, we announced that we would participate in these elections and immediately began to develop the program of our candidate for the presidency. The kurultai (congress) will determine the candidate in August. The program is almost developed and is under examination. We have analyzed our previous pre-election programs, almost half of our ideas have already been implemented to some extent – laws have been adopted, changes have begun. Therefore, we looked at them from a new perspective and took into account the opinions of international experts.
One of the questions that we raise is the definition of the subsistence level. We have already developed and submitted to the Ministry of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction the concept of the relevant draft law so that they could express their opinion there, as well as take our ideas into account when developing state programs and regulations.
Many experts say that it is too early for Uzbekistan to adopt such a law – the economic state of the state will not allow ensuring its implementation, the state will not be able to cover all costs. We do not assume that everything will happen at once. But, probably, after a certain time, we will come to the standard package, which will be adopted within the framework of the law.
We offer solutions to provide the population with affordable, high-quality housing. We consider it necessary to open up the prices for utilities so that people know how the cost of services is formed. We also touch upon the issues of job creation, food price regulation.
In addition, much is said in Uzbekistan about pensions, but little concrete is done in this regard. Yes, from June 1, a new procedure for determining the pension was introduced, but the situation remains the same. Now we have a solidarity pension system, but we already need to switch to new forms – not only the state and the working population, but also other participants should participate in pension provision. We need to give people the opportunity to save up for their own retirement.
Now there are many private kindergartens, in which not everyone can afford to raise children. Therefore, we advocate that state preschool institutions should be built in remote rural areas: private gardens there will simply be empty. We also consider it useful to organize free training in creativity in music and art schools for gifted children from low-income families. We consider it necessary to increase the quotas for education for the disabled. This is a small part of what we want to offer.
– The President has repeatedly said that hokims should be elected by the people, but both voters and those who are elected should be ready for this. Do you think Uzbekistan is ready for the election of hokims? And will you be promoting this issue?
– Until we try, we will not know if we are ready for this. I think we need to conduct experiment, say, in some cities with a developed infrastructure. This will be the first experience, it will not do without mistakes, but we will gradually learn from these mistakes. In fact, Kazakhstan recently adopted a law on the election of akims.
Yes, this issue is on the agenda of our pre-election campaign. We believe that a strong civil society should follow this path. The Chairman of the Council of Deputies should not be a hokim, and he should keep an account to the people’s deputies. Then the status of the deputy will also increase.
Of course, we have achieved a lot during this time. After all, as it was before, everyone silently went about their business, and now Uzbekistan is open, people’s consciousness is changing, the deputies have their own voice, actively discuss, criticize, pose questions to officials. Previously, officials themselves were deputies – the heads of the departments of public education, healthcare, utilities were representatives of the people. Fortunately, the situation has now almost changed. It remains only to take away the right from the hokims to head the Council of people’s representatives.