Karimov despises migrant workers for their “laziness”

Islam Karimov, June 19, 2013 Photo Credit: UzA
During his trip to the country’s remote regions Islam Karimov said he is disgusted by the millions of Uzbek migrant workers, whom he considers “lazy”.

On June 19th the President of Uzbekistan traveled to the Syrdaryo and Dzhizzaks regions, where he visited several factories and farms.

The next day Uzbek television broadcast a detailed report about the trip, giving a large chunk of air time to Karimov’s statement.

Per established custom, the President spoke in front of a carefully selected audience of workers, where he shared his frank thoughts about millions of Uzbek citizens who are working in Russia and other countries.

“There are very few lazy people in Uzbekistan now. I think those who go to Moscow to sweep the streets are the lazy ones. It’s disgusting to see Uzbeks traveling there for a slice of bread, nobody is starving in Uzbekistan,” Karimov said.

Then he stated with conviction that not only unemployment, but poverty were things of the past in Uzbekistan.

According to Karimov, he himself has never seen beggars on Uzbekistan’s streets: “you won’t find any beggars even if you are looking for them”.

“The difference between Uzbeks and other nationalities is that we are honorable and proud people. This (begging for money) is as bad as death. I call those people lazy because in their desire to make big bucks they go over there they are a disgrace to all of us,” he concluded.

This is not the first time Karimov talked about Uzbek migrant workers. During a cabinet meeting in January of this year he expressed surprise at the fact that Uzbeks travel to Russia for work.

In his comments regarding a murder of an Uzbek street cleaner, found dead in a Moscow office, the Uzbek leader said:

“Why did he go there? What, this person couldn’t make the same amount in his home country as he did sweeping streets in Moscow? Shame on our nation, if our people can only get jobs sweeping streets.”

Uzbekistan’s population is about 30 million people, but according to some expert data, anywhere between 3 and 7 million of Uzbek citizens are working in other countries.

According to the latest information from the Russian international job bank for migrant workers, 3.1 million Uzbeks come to Russia every year for an average of 4 to 7 months in order to work.

Over the last few years these migrant workers’ incomes have become a significant addition to the country’s GDP, they help support the families left behind, infuse the market with cash, and facilitate the exchange of products and services.

In 2012 Uzbek migrant workers sent home 6.084 billion dollars, according to Russian Central Bank, a 33 percent increase from 2011.

This figure only includes the money sent via bank wire transfers; in reality migrant workers send a lot more money from Russia back to their families.