President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has won internal and external praise from slowly opening up Uzbekistan following the death of long-standing ruler Islam Karimov in September 2016. Mirziyoyev’s most significant achievement since becoming president came in February 2018, when he successfully removed the country’s powerful security chief Rustam Inoyatov, a staunch defender of Karimov-era values who had held his post for over 22 years. Inoyatov was widely believed to be behind a number of setbacks in the president’s reform agenda (see “Uzbekistan: Mirziyoyev Moves to Marginalise Security Chief”, published on 8th January 2018).

Innoyatov’s removal will likely speed up the pace of change in the country. But, given that Inoyatov used to act as a gatekeeper for many investors, it will also quicken the pace of another development since the death of Karimov: the capture of important key sectors of the economy by oligarchs.