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Uzbeks Demolish World War II Memorial

Friday 20 March 2015

ANGREN, Uzbekistan (RFE/RL) – Uzbek officials in the city of Angren have demolished a World War II memorial amid a Moscow-led rush in former Soviet republics to mark the 70th anniversary of the war in May. Officials told RFE/RL the memorial was removed from central Angren on March 19 in accordance with a redevelopment plan for the city.

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(Photo: Courtesy)

The memorial was unveiled in 1970 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Soviet victory in what is known in the former Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War. It consisted of a 10-meter high foundation and a three-meter sculpture of an armed Soviet soldier with a flag.

Angren is about 50 km from Tashkent, the Uzbek capital.

This demolition cannot be seen by Moscow as an insignificant and fortuitous action. After the Andijan events of 2005, Uzbekistan had significantly strengthened strategic ties with Russia. In late 2005, Uzbekistan and Russia signed a mutual security pact that called on the two countries to come to each other’s defence if either was the victim of an attack by a third state. But in recent years, Tashkent takes away from Kremlin and courts with United States. President Karimov seems giving strong signals to Washington that he is not willing a re-integration in a new Russian Empire via the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

Uzbekistan’s leaders have cooperated with NATO on security issues in the past, but the country leans heavily toward Russia, thanks to strong economic ties. Last year, Moscow welcomed Uzbekistan into the free-trade zone of the Commonwealth of Independent States, an arrangement that will boost trade between Uzbekistan and its fellow former Soviet republics. Uzbekistan has also asked Russian energy firms to help tap its vast hydrocarbon deposits.

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