Snow and frost in Tashkent, January 2023.
In Tashkent in early January, the temperature dropped to -20. In Nukus, in general, they say, it reached -42. Such frosts are not remembered here for a long time. The energy industry was in shock: the country does not have enough gas and electricity. Added to this were accidents at electrical substations, cuts in the gas supply. In entire areas there is no heat or light. People warm themselves with campfires or move in with relatives who have electricity, and even better a stove.
It was very cold by local standards in Uzbekistan in December. It is snowing in Samarkand and the frost has come. The city stood up – here they did not hear about winter tires, nor about driving skills in such conditions. In houses and apartments, the temperature does not rise above +10.
– It’s you in Russia that no one is surprised by frost and live as they used to, – Halim sighs. He is originally from Samarkand, but lives and works in Moscow. – At home -10 – everyone is already terrified. Children stop going to school, everyone sits at home by the battery.
And now in the ancient city the temperature is even lower.
– The wife called, says that in the morning the thermometer read -18. Life at home revolves around an oil battery. Well, we have light.
– Do you have ovens?
– Not at all, we always have central heating. It is in the villages that people have adapted, since summer they have been preparing cow cakes, some branches, and they are choking on them. We don’t have forests like you, you don’t go for firewood. And those trees that are, you can’t cut them down; in the summer you will go crazy without shade. I remember the frosty winter of 2008. At that time, many rural people made decent money by giving their old fruit trees for firewood. They gave me $100 for this.
Evergreen Tashkent at the beginning of 2023 was in the middle of a real winter.
“SLEEPING WITH BOTTLES”
In Tashkent, public transport continues to work. But the batteries are already too cold and in all areas there is a continuous blackout. On the night of January 12-13, forecasters recorded a peak: thermometers dropped to -20. As if this is not a southern city, but a real Siberia.
– There has been no light in my apartment for 4 days. The batteries hardly warm up, says a resident of the Uzbek capital, driver Sergey. -He sent his wife and his children to his mother-in-law out of town. Back in town at least there is light and stoves in the houses.
– What is the temperature in the apartment?
– Grades 6. It is good in our mahalla all the time on the fire on duty, there they heat large vats of water. I collect boiling water in a thermos, and at night in plastic bottles and put it in bed. This is how I am saved. By the way, there are also water cuts, but there are pumps in the yards. The truth is that they screwed up. Fires are lit around them to warm them up and get water.
Mahalla is a district community, something like a homeowners association, a local self-governing body. ancient tradition. The state supports them – this association of people always helps in difficult times. Mahalla never leaves the elderly, women with children alone. Help with funerals and weddings. And now she came to the aid of freezing the residents of apartment buildings.
TOGETHER WARMER AND MORE FUN
– Everywhere on the internet there are videos of people warming themselves around the fire and preparing their own food. – Says my other Uzbek friend, Chevroz. – Many people think that this is spontaneous, but always, even in areas where there are high-rise buildings, we have places for cooking on a fire, specially equipped gazebos, benches. So that guests can come for a birthday or just come, in the yard you can cook pilaf or fry a barbecue. And now our tradition saves.
Uzbeks are generally very friendly people.
– We have been living with neighbors for the third night. In our house, the shields were broken due to the voltage. However, they turned on everything possible, so the voltage system could not withstand it, it burned out. Electricians do not have time to go to all accidents, – continues Chevrose, – And everything works for the neighbors. In his big room, we made something like a tent with blankets, inside there are two heaters. Children all day under this tent. The women prepare food for everyone. Together and not so scary, and more fun.
Meteorologists, of course, reassure: the current cold is not a record in history, it used to be colder. But that doesn’t make it any easier for people. Throughout the country there is an accident in the electrical network, the power goes out. The apartments are freezing, the steam heating pipes are bursting.
Everyone is following the weather reports. From the 20th, the frosts will be stronger again.
– How is the temperature in January in Tashkent?
– An advantage. It happened, of course, and -3, well -7. But not by much.
What suddenly happened to the energy infrastructure of the entire country? The anomaly showed that Uzbekistan has a severe shortage of energy resources: gas and electricity. Own deposits do not cover the needs of country number 27 million. All hope of import.
– Literally in December 2022, a gas supply contract was signed between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. They were counting on this,” explains journalist Farhod Rakhmonov, a local news portal. – But the Turkmen have greatly reduced the pressure in this pipeline. They say that they are afraid that she will not take it and will explode. Yes, and some problems with the production began. By the frost All our cogeneration plants run on gas. Without gas, without heating or light.
In November, Russia offered Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to create a gas union. There were negotiations, but so far nothing has ended. Moscow’s conditions on the transfer of gas transmission systems to Gazprom did not suit Tashkent and Astana. Many say that the current energy crisis will push Tashkent into a new round of negotiations.
President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Photo: Sergey Bobylev / TASS
The President of the Republic, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has already given a terrible rebuke to officials for poor preparation for winter. He canceled his visit to Singapore and appears to be personally involved in resolving the energy crisis. At a meeting in Tashkent on January 16, he said that the cause of all current problems is corruption, haphazard work and theft of energy resources. According to him, more than 10,000 illegal connections to electricity and gas networks have recently been identified.
“The system was undermined from within,” Mirziyoyev said. And heads have already flown: Tashkent Mayor Artykhodzhaev, Deputy Minister of Energy Khodjaev, Chairman of Thermal Power Plants Abdurakhmonov and the heads of several districts have been dismissed. The prosecution is working at full capacity.
The government is already taking emergency measures. Instructions have been sent to all companies to minimize the consumption of gas and electricity. A hotline has been set up, where residents of wealthy areas can contact. The Ministry of Emergency Situations has been involved in the work, heating points are being equipped in the courtyards – canvas tents with a stove inside. Residents of cities receive pilaf for free.