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INFORMATION DIGEST No. 32

February 14, 2017

INVESTMENTS
Navoi Pryaja is getting prepared to commission a new workshop by the end of the first quarter of 2017

“We produce yarn by processing local raw material – a synthetic fiber of nitron, which is manufactured by Navoiazot Company. We produce colored yarn for hand knitting. The demand for our products is growing both domestically and in the foreign markets. Last year, we signed an export contract for $33,000 with Russian partners. As of today, we supplied the partners with a half of the contracted volume of production,” said the company's director Valentina Zhukova.

Employing more than a dozen of people, Navoi Pryaja seeks for the opportunities for new projects. In view of the requirements of time, the company is expecting a delivery of advanced spinning equipment valued at $350,000 from China. The launch of a new workshop and creation of ten additional jobs is scheduled for the first quarter of this year.
(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
Effective Counter-Measures

Poorly secured nuclear materiel remains a matter of concern around the world. US and Uzbek officials have shared their views about the threat of the acquisition of radioactive substances by malefactors.

Background:

The Nuclear Security Summit that took place last year in Washington put at the forefront the question as to how to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear materials. Back then, dozens of heads of state and delegations from around the world discussed ways to prevent ingress of potentially hazardous substances into the wrong hands.

The pressing topic has recently been addressed in Tashkent, as well. In the center of attention were the issues of cooperation between the Uzbek and the US governments in countering that threat.

The meeting was a continuation of the dialogue in the framework of a joint action plan to combat nuclear smuggling elaborated by the parties in March 2012. The action plan defines the steps of governments for cooperation in preventing, detecting and combating nuclear and radioactive trafficking.

Radioactive substances are present not only in nuclear power plants and military bases, but also in the diagnostic devices of medical institutions and are used for cancer treatment facilities, as well as mining and mechanical equipment, household smoke detectors.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, from 1993 to 2014 it was recorded about 1,150 cases of loss, theft and illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials. In general, about 100 cases of disappearances take place every year around the world. The James Martin Research Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California recorded in the period between 2013 and 2014 alone 325 incidents of theft, loss of nuclear or radioactive materials, illegal actions with them in 38 different countries.

Participants of the Tashkent meeting noted the overall progress in the implementation of the objectives and identified further ways of cooperation on this front. They stressed that the regular contacts in this direction will help to prevent attempts at smuggling, to ensure successful detection and prosecution of potential nuclear trafficking, to address the security of the United States, Uzbekistan and the international community as a whole.
(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)

SOCIETY
Mahalla: Capacity Building, Credibility Boosting, Perfection

The institution of mahalla, or local community, in Uzbekistan has been instrumental in the preservation and multiplication of national traditions and values, improvement of the legal culture of population, enhancement of civic involvement in government and society management.

Mahalla ranks among the key features of the national way of life of the Uzbek people. From ancient times, communities contributed to the establishment of ideas of kindness, creativity, generosity, compassion, mutual support and solidarity as a form of residence of people within one or more blocks or streets. A unique system of self-government, which is also a civil society institution, it has no parallels in the world. It has been shaped over centuries, absorbing the best national traditions and values.

In the years of independence, the issues of raising the authority of local communities were prioritized due to social, economic, political, educational and huge spiritual significance. Gradual and scaled measures created appropriate conditions for the transformation of this institution into a reliable support and effective force for the formation of civil society in our country.

Citizens’ assemblies in villages, settlements and local communities were enshrined in Article 105 of the Constitution of the Republic as territorial self-government entities for the first time in the history of national statehood. More than a hundred legal acts regulate the involvement of citizens’ self-government bodies in particular areas of social life.

There are nearly 10,000 such entities across Uzbekistan. More than 30 functions, which were previously within the powers of local government bodies, were gradually transferred to local communities in the process of transition from a strong state to a robust civil society.

The legal framework that regulates the relations of self-government bodies is enshrined in the Constitution of Uzbekistan, the Law ‘On citizens’ self-government bodies’, ‘On elections of chairpersons of citizens' assemblies and their advisors’.

Each of citizens’ assemblies has regular budget posts of chairman, advisor on religious, spiritual and moral education, executive secretary and head of a social structure ‘Mahalla Posboni’ (community order volunteer) – a total of 40,000 people. In addition, on a voluntary basis, this work involves the advisors who are elected from among reputable and respected people to chair a commission on basic directions of activity. Their number totals 100,000 people. Chairpersons of citizens' assemblies and their advisors are not appointed but elected by the population every 2.5 years, based on the principles of transparency and alternative choice.

During elections to the representative bodies of government in 2014, citizens’ assemblies effectively exercised the right to nominate candidates to local councils of people's deputies, as stipulated by the legislation. In particular, they nominated 433 candidates for deputies of municipal and regional councils, 115 of whom were elected.

The ‘Mahalla’ Republican Charity Foundation, the establishment of which was supported by the decrees of the President and a resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers in 1992, plays a special role in the improvement of the system of citizens' self-government bodies.

The documents have contributed to strengthening of logistical capacity of citizens’ self-government bodies, defined the ways and principles of their development, created institutional and legal framework for the full functioning of local communities. They clearly reflect the role of communities as an important tool for building the civil society in the country, protection of democratic values, human rights and freedoms, and legitimate interests of people.
Today, based on the principles of legality, transparency, social justice, and humanity, the Mahalla Foundation operates in all regions of the country to disseminate the best practices of the best citizens’ assemblies, develop civil society through the promotion of further expansion of public control over the activity of state bodies, as well as render social support of the population, transform local communities in centers of development of private entrepreneurship and family business. Generally, built on the ideas of humanism, local communities promote the further development of Uzbekistan and welfare of people.

In furtherance of strengthening of logistical capacity of citizens’ self-government bodies, nearly 1,600 office buildings of citizens’ assemblies were repaired in the past five years, 367 were overhauled, and more than 350 buildings of citizens' assemblies were reconstructed to standard design projects, and 216 new buildings were put into operation.

As a result of large-scale organizational and legal measures, a system of local communities has turned into a unique structure that has no counterparts in the world. Strong foundations have been built to ensure strenuous involvement of citizens' self-government bodies in the process of enhancement of socio-political and socio-economic reforms.

Meanwhile, in view of the current requirements for the construction of civil society in our country, there is a need to further streamline citizens' self-government bodies. The Decree of the President of Uzbekistan ‘On measures to further streamline the institution of mahalla’ of February 3, 2017, settles the organizational and legal measures on enhancing the role of citizens’ self-government bodies to ensure effective solution of the issues of local importance, exercise the right for merging into an association that would represent the common interests of citizens' assemblies, strengthen their logistical capacity, as well as ensure interaction with state authorities and civil society institutions.

The document defines the following priority directions of further improvement of the institution of mahalla: strengthening the role of citizens' self-government bodies in society, turning them into local offices of real assistance to people; further enhancement of the credibility of mahallas in creation of an atmosphere of mutual respect and social cohesion, preservation and development of national and universal values; strengthening of interaction with governmental and nongovernmental organizations in the education of young people, social support of vulnerable strata and representatives of the older generation; expansion of their involvement in ensuring public order and safety, early warning of offenses, strengthening of respect for the law in citizens; introduction of effective mechanisms to protect the rights and legitimate interests of citizens.

The document also enshrines the Republican Council on Coordination of Citizens’ Self-Government Bodies as a legal entity in the form of an association of citizens' assemblies, as well as provincial councils in regions, districts and municipalities as its structural divisions.

A separate regulation assigns the first deputy chairmen of the Republican Council and regional councils also as chairmen of the Republican Board, territorial divisions and branches of Mahalla Foundation respectively, in order to ensure the effective fulfillment of the tasks entrusted to councils, strengthen logistical capacity of citizens’ self-government bodies, and make the funding of socio-economic programs effective.

It is envisaged integrate representatives of state authorities and officials of the ministries of finance, internal affairs, labor, public education, health, public youth movement Kamolot, Nuroniy Foundation, Women's Committee, other governmental and nongovernmental organizations and their territorial structures in collegiate bodies of councils on a voluntary basis, in order to enhance the interaction of citizens' self-government bodies with the state and social structures in addressing social issues.

To ensure the effective implementation of the tasks entrusted to self-government bodies, the Council of Citizens' Assemblies will engage deputy chairmen of citizens’ assemblies (advisors to the chairman of citizens’ assemblies on the elderly and veterans, and on youth affairs), local prevention inspectors, heads of educational institutions and rural health units (family polyclinics). It is also envisaged that they will present quarterly performance reports to citizens’ assemblies.

The Decree has approved a program of integrated measures, which provides for the implementation of 37 specific measures to further streamline the activity of the councils and support citizens’ self-government bodies.

Ministries and agencies are assigned with drafting regulatory legal acts that envisage the interaction of citizens' assemblies with district (municipal) employment promotion centers, law enforcement agencies and financial institutions, educational institutions and health authorities.

In order to ensure the independence of citizens’ assemblies in addressing local problems and elimination of unnecessary links in the self-government system, it is planned to transform citizens’ assemblies of the villages and settlements, which incorporate communities, into citizens’ assemblies of communities through their incorporation and separation.

Territorial programs for 2017-2021 will focus on strengthening the logistical capacity of the self-government bodies, establishment of children's playgrounds, public service facilities. Also, measures The buildings of ‘Community Center’ complexes in the regions and cities will have a standard design.

It is envisaged to institute a badge ‘Mahalla Iftihori’, which will be awarded to enterprising citizens and representatives of public organizations for a worthy contribution to the implementation of the tasks entrusted to self-government bodies.

The measures under the Decree and the Program of Integrated Measures will contribute to the effective implementation of the tasks entrusted to citizens’ self-government bodies, coordination of their activities, and further strengthening of their interaction with government agencies and civil society institutions.

Citizens’ self-government bodies have an important mission of educating the youth, helping them to acquire modern knowledge and professions, prevention of early marriages and family conflicts. They do a big job in ensuring stable social and spiritual atmosphere, formation of healthy and harmoniously developed generation, education in the spirit of respect for national traditions and values, organization of interesting leisure.

Parent Universities under citizens' assemblies regularly conduct training workshops and awareness-raising activities to raise legal, moral and spiritual knowledge of parents, contributing to the timely solution of urgent problems. Establishment of various interest clubs, including sports and professional ones, in the communities, colleges and educational institutions, provides the meaningful leisure for the younger generation. Youth centers of social services in all regions of the republic provide computer literacy, English language, music, dance, knitting and cooking classes mainly to children from low-income families, young persons with disabilities, as well as maladjusted youth.

Jointly with the Ministry of Public Education, children's music and art schools open ensembles for talented students.

‘Diligent Girls’ clubs are organized in all communities. They are chiefly aimed at cultivation of healthy lifestyles in girls, drawing their interest in beautification of their homes, communities, clean environment, promoting environmental and health culture. The clubs are also aimed at the prevention of early marriages among underage youths. It is noteworthy that they cover girls from each street, each high-rise house. The girls get prepared for family life, enhance their legal and medical culture. Family doctors, teachers, psychologists of local schools, colleges and high schools, women with a great life experience and skills help advisors of citizens’ assemblies with the organization of the clubs and work with young people.

These days, the ‘Mahalla’ Public Charity Foundation is holding regional stages of the competition ‘Mahalla in My Life’.

The competition is held among the ninth graders of general education schools, vocational colleges and academic lyceums, located on the territory of citizens' assemblies. The creative competition plays an important role in enhancing the spirituality of our young people, in bringing up the younger generation in the spirit of patriotism and respect for national values. This year, the district and city stages of the competition covered more than 8,600 teams, or over 34,000 boys and girls.

17 teams competed in the Andijan regional stage of the competition. The participants demonstrated their knowledge of the history of the mahalla, talked about its role in the education of young people, in strengthening of cooperation on ‘Family-Community-Educational Institution’ strategy, answered the questions about the legal acts with regard to citizens' assemblies, but most importantly, they wrote essays on ‘Mahalla in My Life’.

A Yuksalish team of Buloqboshi district won the first prize.

The Kashkadarya regional stage of the competition brought together 14 teams. Boys and girls demonstrated their skills and knowledge about the history of the institution of mahalla in Uzbekistan, the national idea, the foundations of spirituality.

“The competition has become not just a knowledge and skills test for young people, but it is also a platform for free expression of ideas, a celebration of friendship,” said the chief specialist of the Kashkadarya regional branch of the Mahalla Foundation Ms. Ravshanova. “The interest in it is huge. 665 teams of 2,660 boys and girls participated in the qualifying rounds of the competition.”

A team of citizens’ assembly of Bogibahor mahalla of Shahrisabz district won the competition.

All Uzbekistanis are residents of local communities. There are obvious changes and specific practical content in their activities. They bring up such noble qualities as mutual respect, peace and patriotism.

Today, they perform such functions as targeted social support of the population, promotion of small business and private entrepreneurship with the focus on family business, home-based work and handicrafts, implementation of public control over the activities of government.

These are not just words, enshrined in the law. For example, the O’rikzor Mahalla of Uchtepa district of the capital incorporates 50 small businesses, including sewing shops, hairdressers, clothes and food shops, cafeterias, pharmacies, shoe shops, leisure places for older people. The citizens’ assembly provides good services to meet the everyday needs of the people.

The citizens’s assembly carries out public control over the implementation of laws and other acts of legislation of the respective territory, including the provision of quality public services, compliance with construction and maintenance regulations for yards and adjoining areas, land use and protection. Mahalla provides recommendations for weddings and other family events, organizes financial aid to low-income families jointly with state and economic management bodies, banks, NGOs.

Such powers help to cover with social assistance all population strata, each person. This is a unique system, which is inherent in our mentality and statehood. No one is left neglected.

International experts repeatedly recognized the outcomes of the strong social policy, which is one of the principles of the ‘Uzbek development model’, the importance and the role of the institution of mahalla in its implementation.

In 2015, the Mahalla Foundation helped persons with disabilities and orphans to obtain hundreds of millions of soums (currency rates of CB RU from 14.02.2017, 1$= 3309.35 soums) to pay for study contracts. The ward of Angren ‘Mehribonlik’ mercy home № 34 Sardora Saidahmedova is among them. Today, she studies at the Tashkent State Law University. Sardora sets high goals and reaches them, as an example of excellent study and initiative for her peers.

During national holidays, local communities organize distribution of gifts to poor and socially vulnerable persons, free holidays in summer camps for children from low-income families.

There are the people in each community, who experienced care and attention of mahalla in difficult moments of their life, which aroused their confidence in the future. A healthy spiritual atmosphere reigns in citizens' assemblies. Every family, every citizen is committed to contribute to the improvement of the native community.

It is strengthened by regular events that are aimed at the establishment of the values that are passed on from generation to generation - respect for the elderly, care for the young, maintenance of vigilance as an important factor for peace, protection of youths from the impact of various negative phenomena.

Mahalla is a sacred abode. It is the place where we share joys and sorrows. Peace and tranquility in a community gives safely to our lives, fills them with joyful moments. It is an important factor for the consent, unity and generosity in the community, the further prosperity of the country. There is a big sense behind the saying “Homeland begins with mahalla”.
(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)

NATURE OF UZBEKISTAN
The Dragon of the Kyzylkum desert

The Central Asian desert monitor is a beautiful and noble lizard, a true adornment of deserts and their essential component. This is the largest of the lizards inhabiting Central Asia. This monitor has a thick body, long and strong tail and powerful legs and can be up to 1.5 m in length and 3.5 kg in weight.

THE FATAL BEAUTY

The desert monitor is a very beautiful lizard. Its back varies in colour from grayish-brown or yellowish-brown to reddish-brown and is covered with numerous dark dots and speckles. There are two to three longitudinal brown strips on the neck. Behind the neck they meet to form a horseshoe pattern. The back and tail are crossed by semi-circular bands along the whole length of the body.

Because of its beautiful coloration and fine texture the animal’s skin began to be used widely in the production of various leather accessories in the 1930s-40s. In certain periods up to 20 thousand monitors were killed annually for the purpose, which led to the decrease of the lizard’s population and, in some areas, to its total extinction.

SOME FACTS FROM THE LIFE OF THE DESERT CROCODILES

The desert monitor inhabits mostly flat terrains, but sometimes can be found in foothills, at altitudes up to 1,000 m above sea level. This lizard prefers fixed and semi-fixed sands and clay and stony soils, but sometimes lives on salt marshes, takirs, low, barren hills and loess bluffs.

The desert monitor displays a territorial behaviour and is characterized by an extensive home range. In spring, when nature awakens after the winter sleep, males begin to fight for females, where ritual postures and demonstration of strength play key roles. Some scars left by the large and sharp claws remain on the body for the rest of a lizard’s life.

Baby monitors hatch three months later, staying in the burrow during the rest of the summer and the whole of the winter and leaving it only in spring next year. In the wild monitors live for up to seven years, but some individuals can reach the age of 17.

The monitor’s nostrils are an interesting anatomic feature, distinguishing this lizard from its kinds. Bending at a certain angle and located near the eyes, they do not allow sand to get into the nose when the animal broadens rodents’ burrows, in which it often shelters.

THE IMPORTANT ELEMENT OF THE DESERT BIOCOENOSIS

The monitor is a valuable element in the desert biocoenosis. It acts as a natural regulator of rodent and insect populations. Living near colonies of gerbils, monitors control their populations.

According to latest research, the monitor population has decreased considerably for the last two years. The animal is listed in the Red Book of Uzbekistan as a vulnerable declining species, which is to be protected throughout the country.

Young individuals face a number of threats, such as fox, corsac, wolf, wild cats and raptors. However, as the monitor grows, it becomes increasingly harder to scare it: the animal does not withdraw at the sight of a human or car, but, instead, assumes a threatening pose, inflating and stretching the body, producing loud hissing, sticking out the tongue and beating the tail in the direction of its enemy. Thus, thanks to their size, adult monitors know but a few threats in the wild – mostly raptors, such as the golden and steppe eagles. But there are some factors, which present a far more serious danger for the animal.

TO PROTECT THE DESERT DRAGON

The main threat to the survival of this rare species is the human activity – primarily the transformation of the monitor’s natural habitats into farmlands. A large portion of deaths are caused by vehicles. There are a number of features about roads that attract lizards to them. First, areas near roads are often inhabited by colonies of the great gerbil, the monitor’s main food. Moreover, asphalt is heated faster and better, which makes it a good place for the animals to ‘have sunbaths.’

The desert monitor is a highly valuable species. Apart from being a natural regulator of rodent populations and it is a true symbol of the Kyzylkum desert which needs be protected.
(Source: “Uzbekistan Airways” magazine)

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