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Uzbekistan's new president promises reform, but can he deliver?

Corruption and repression are expected to continue under Shavkat Mirziyoyev

Until now, Uzbeks preferred not to change money at banks because of unattractive official exchange rates. (Photo by Ikrom Nosirov)

TASHKENT Two men rushed over to an approaching car in a dark market alley. After a brief exchange of words, the driver handed over a few $100 notes and received a pile of Uzbek som in return.

The scene, a common sight in the isolated Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan, is a consequence of government restrictions on the circulation of foreign currency. Newly elected President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has promised to reform policies that have driven such activity into the black market.

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