June 3, 2023
For Uzbeks, voting days are a holiday.

For Uzbeks, voting days are a holiday.



Uzbekistan is not the first in the post-Soviet space to decide to rewrite the constitution. But here the changes are perhaps the most ambitious – 65% of the main document of the country will be simply different.

The new constitution focuses on social guarantees – women’s rights, the availability of free education, the prohibition of child labor (and it is not uncommon here on cotton plantations), support for innovation, the prohibition of censorship in the media, and more. The words “rights and freedom” are written down in one of the articles as “the highest goal of the state”.

There are also amendments concerning political realities. For example, the members of the Senate will not be 100, but only 65; the presidential term is increased from 5 to 7 years. It is forbidden to occupy the highest government posts for more than the spirit of terms (not only the president, but also the speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the chairman of the Senate, and so on). But with the adoption of the new constitution, a reset occurs, that is, the current head of state Shavkat Mirziyoyev receives the right to run again for the presidency, and then again. And if the people elect him, he can continue to rule the country until 2040. It is worth noting that there were no disagreements on the issue of zeroing.

Although, unfortunately, there were some scandals – because of the clause on the status of the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan. They just wanted to remove it. When the first draft of the new constitution was published last summer, a scandal erupted. Nukus, the capital of the autonomy, hosted thousands of rallies and protests. Then it was decided – to postpone the date of the referendum to April 30, 2023, and leave the item that made so much noise.

Queues at polling stations at 9 am Tashkent time

Queues at polling stations at 9 am Tashkent time



For Uzbeks, voting days are a holiday. And it’s not a figure of speech. There is no need to lure anyone here with cheap pies. Uzbeks with joy and some even trepidation go to fulfill their civic duty.

I arrived at the first polling station at 8:45, there was a queue at the entrance, and the ballot box was half full. One woman even came with a huge armful of white flowers – she distributed to the employees of the polling station.

– Do you always come to the polls with flowers?

– Always! Even in winter. For us, this day is a big, responsible holiday. These are white bells, I raised them myself. I gave it to all the girls, they sit here all day, and work around the clock, – the woman explained to me.

– Yes, we have such people here, – smiles the chairman of this section Gaukha Daminova.

– What turnout do you expect?

– 100%! Here you will see.

But the campaign still went on. And this time it was creative – on billboards in cities they played funny videos stylized as correspondence in social networks with emoticons and faces: “Dubai is canceled. April 30th is an important day”, “Set the alarm on April 30th. Don’t sleep through the future”, “Guzel, we’ll go after the salon on the 30th, what do you say?”, “Farhod, let’s reschedule our gathering in the teahouse. On April 30, I have an important matter.”

“Funny commercial, yes,” a young waiter in a coffee shop tells me. – They sent me text messages on my phone and invited me to a referendum.

– Went down.

– Still in the morning before work.



By the way, at the referendum on the amendments, this check should have been put only one, in front of “yes” or “no”. As in Russia in 2020.

– I put yes, yes and yes again! smiles the spice merchant in the market with golden teeth.

– What, ticked three times?

– Why, girl, three? One, so as not to spoil an important piece of paper.

– Do you know what changes in the constitution?

– I know. They do everything for me.

The Constitution in its new version with all the additions and amendments was not only issued in thousands of copies so that everyone could read and familiarize themselves, but was even hung on stands throughout the country, at every polling station.

The document, it must be said, is large-scale. It takes about 30 minutes to read from cover to cover. Moreover, new articles are not highlighted in any way. If you want to understand what is changing, read the old one from 1992 first.

Do people understand what is changing? I asked Adiz Azimov, secretary of the polling station at the Bukhara Engineering and Technology Institute.

A woman came to the polling station with flowers.

A woman came to the polling station with flowers.


“We have been showing and telling on TV every day for half a year what and why they are changing,” he explains to me. – I teach history here, so we explained to the students more than once what and how. And how many brochures were laid out in mailboxes, posters were hung on houses … Everyone knows everything.

– The constitution of Uzbekistan states that adult children are responsible for their parents. This is very correct, – says a grandmother in a colorful dressing gown in Bukhara.

– And don’t they carry it?

– And so they carry it. It is not customary for us to abandon the elderly. But the law also respects us.

– I am a teacher. And we, teachers, paid attention. It’s written so beautifully, I don’t remember exactly.

We surf the Internet to read together:

– Yes, here “the work of a teacher is the basis for the development of society and the state.” We will be respected.

– Don’t they respect it?

– Very, very respected. But now it’s the law. That’s how it’s written.

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Ibrokhim Abdurakhmanov.

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Ibrokhim Abdurakhmanov.



– We proposed to fix the responsibility of the state to protect intellectual property. And also to provide universities with academic freedom, that is, the right to independently choose teaching methods, print their own literature, ”the author of some amendments, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Ibrokhim Abdurakhmanov, whom I met here quite by accident, tells me right on the site. – There are important changes in the new constitution. For example, now at least 30% of young people must receive a diploma at the expense of the state. We have a young country and now the state will be obliged to educate young people. Back in the country, a law was recently passed that all scientists benefit from the use of their developments in the form of a percentage of the profits. Now it is enshrined in the constitution.

– Do you also make a profit for your cotton variety? (Ibrohim Yulchievich – brought out one of the most modern varieties of cotton – author)

– Certainly. And not only me – we were 15 people in collaboration. And at the moment, at the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics of the Academy of Sciences, where I am also an employee, clinical trials of a new variety of tomatoes with a coronavirus vaccine have already been completed.

– That is, he ate a tomato and took root?

– Yes. We are also developing salt-tolerant varieties of wheat to start growing it in undeveloped areas. We are working on the creation of “bulletproof”, as we call them, plants. So that no illnesses take them.

Honorary Consul of Uzbekistan Sari Zvi

Honorary Consul of Uzbekistan Sari Zvi



Uzbeks are very hospitable people. Everyone with whom I spoke considered it his duty to call me for tea, for pilaf. They conveyed greetings to relatives in Russia (many have a brother, matchmaker, daughter-in-law here). And everyone wanted to show what they have and how.

At one of the sites in Bukhara, in the branch of Khududgaz (it’s like our Mezhraygaz), I was invited (so much so that I could not refuse) to the control room.

– This year, the whole country has switched to smart meters. All at the expense of the state. Now there is no need to take any testimony, everything is in the computer.

In that control room, as in the Control Center, there is a huge screen divided into squares, in each there is some kind of graph or video from a gas station, where men are dragging red gas cylinders.

– This is my house, – the dispatcher proudly shows. – You see, you can see how much gas your wife burned for food today. The same can be seen on my phone. And now there are no debts, as soon as the money on the balance sheet ends – immediately SMS comes. Such a smart system. Do you like it? gasmen smiled. – Do you have the same in Russia?

International observers at the polling station.

International observers at the polling station.


And everyone asked how I feel in Uzbekistan, do I like it?

– LikeI answered honestly.

– And I like it too, – admitted the Honorary Consul of Uzbekistan, Israeli Sari Zvi. I met her at the site, which is located right at the Uzbekfilm film studio, here she was as an observer from Israel. – I have been working in this country for 30 years. I learned Russian here. I love Tashkent very much. Also Samarkand. Uzbekistan is developing like a rocket.


Already at 11 am on Sunday, the CEC announced that turnout exceeded 35%. The air in Tashkent at that time warmed up to 30 Celsius. In Moscow, this would be called unbearable heat, but here it is spring – flowers are blooming, the still untiring greenery catches the eye with its bright emerald leaves.

Famous Uzbek actress Dilnoza Kubaeva.

Famous Uzbek actress Dilnoza Kubaeva.


At four o’clock in the afternoon, when the heat began to subside, a message appeared that the referendum had taken place – 62.24% had voted. I sat under a sprawling linden tree and watched the news on information tapes: in the Denau district, a 100-year-old grandfather came to vote, in Sherobad district, a whole wedding procession, a bride in a magnificent white dress arm in arm with the groom.

An hour later, the CEC reported that turnout was – 81.39%.

The final information about the voting will be published on May 1. I wouldn’t be surprised if the turnout is 100%.

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