Karimov to all top government officials: you cannot leave the country without my permission

76-year old Islam Karimov has been Uzbekistan’s leader since June 1989
The Uzbek president banned all members of government, the head of the SNB, all khokims, and other officials from traveling abroad without his permission.

76-year old Uzbek president Islam Karimov seems to have taken on a lofty responsibility. Going forward, every government official, presidential cabinet or Senate member, and even every non-profit organization executive planning a business trip requires the president’s personal approval.

The March 5 presidential decree, as is typical in Uzbekistan, bears a name that signifies the opposite of what it actually does – “Measures for harmonizing the order in executives’ travels abroad”.

The official state media released a list of high-ranking positions today whose business travel abroad must henceforth be coordinated with the president. Officials of lower ranks must coordinate their travel with the appropriate government agencies.

This measure is meant to strengthen the Protection of State Secrets law, which allows for the government to restrict the mobility of those of its citizens who are deemed to possess state or military secrets.

Moreover, the decree specifies that failure to obtain presidential permission for travel abroad might constitute a criminal offense.

To that effect “the Ministry of Justice together with the Supreme Court, Prosecutor General’s office, SNB, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been tasked with developing criminal and administrative codes for bringing those who violate this decree to justice.”

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Below is a full list of officials who are now required to seek the president’s permission to travel abroad:

1. The prime minister and deputy prime minister

2. The chair of the Senate Olij Mazhlis and deputy chair

3. The speaker of the Olij Mazhlis legislative chamber and deputies

4. Presidential advisors; the Security Council secretary; the president’s Chief of Staff; all other presidential cabinet executives; and deputies of the aforementioned positions

5. High-ranking members of the executive branch, including the Security Council

6. The dean of the presidential Governance Academy

7. The director of the presidential Institute for Strategic and Inter-regional Research

8. The director of the presidential Institute for Current Legal Framework Monitoring

9. The chair of the presidential High Qualifying Commission on Selection and Recommendation of Judges

10. The Olij Mazhlis Human Rights Ombudsman

11. The chair of the Central Election Commission

12. The chair of the Central Bank and deputies

13. Chairs of the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, and High Administrative Court and their deputies

14. Ministers and chairs of government committees and their deputies

15. The chair of the National Security Services (SNB) and deputies

16. The prosecutor general and deputies; the head of Tax Evasion, Crimes Involving Foreign Currency, and Money Laundering Department

17. The chair of the Cabinet of the Ministers’ Executive Committee

18. The chair, deputy chair, and other high-ranking officials of the Treasury

19. The president of the Academy of Sciences

20. The director of the National Center for Human Rights

21. The director of the Strategic Analyses and Prognostication Institute

22. The executive director of the presidential Fund Istedod

23. The executive director of the Fund for Reconstruction and Development

24. The chair of Zhokargy Kenes in the Republic of Karakalpakstan; the chair of the Ministers' Council in the Republic of Karakalpakstan

25. Khokims (administrators) of the regions and Tashkent

Officials of lower ranks also fall under the new rules. The detailed list (in Russian) can be seen here.