TASHKENT -- Uzbekistan is issuing an award to honour valiant troops, law enforcement personnel and other citizens as the silver anniversary of independence nears.
The exact number of personnel receiving the award "To 25 years of Uzbekistan's independence" is not known, but it is estimated to be in the hundreds. Officials have not disclosed whether an award ceremony will take place; it is likely the individuals will receive the award wherever they work.
As Independence Day (September 1) neared, President Islam Karimov July 1 ordered that the medal be struck.
It will honour outstanding military and law enforcement personnel and civilians who have contributed to strengthening the country's defensive might, protecting its borders and preserving peace and stability, Feruzbek Karimov, spokesman for the state-run, Tashkent-based Centre for Spirituality and Enlightenment, told Caravanserai.
"The medal is in the form of a circle with a golden surface," he explained. "It has a depiction of the Happy Mother monument ... in Tashkent."
In the footsteps of others
Uzbekistani authorities recognise the soldiers and police officers who died in past years fighting terrorism. They received awards post-humously in helping the government prevent any known terrorist attacks since 2004.
The hope is that the new medal will inspire Uzbekistani youth to emulate those heroes.
"In 1999, [Tashkent] police sergeant Nurgali Urmanov ... died blocking extremists who tried to enter a government building," Sharaf Khikmatov, a Tashkent police spokesman, told Caravanserai.
Urmanov was killed in a gun battle with those terrorists.
"In 2004 ... [Tashkent] police officers Kodir Rakhmonov, Otabek Kuvatov, and Fakhriddin Tirkashev became victims of a female suicide bomber," Khikmatov said.
In 2004, three more Tashkent police officers, "Mansour Turgunov, Erkin Saidov and Mukhiddin Amonov, were tragically killed in a shoot-out with criminals," Khikmatov said. "Those are just a few names from a long list of Uzbekistani heroes and patriots."
A number of medals and orders already exist for heroes. They come with various benefits, including cash payments.
The highest one is "Hero of Uzbekistan," Feruzbek Karimov said. "It is given for services ... associated with a heroic deed."
"The award was created in 1994," he said. "Its [recipients] are eligible for a special lifetime increase in salary and pension, as well as free travel on public transit."
The government last issued that award to four citizens on August 25, 2015.
Various awards for Uzbekistanis
A number of other awards exist for civilians and troops, Karimov said.
"The highest military award is the Order of Jaloliddin Manguberdi, which was created in 2000," Karimov said. "It goes to military commanders who have displayed heroism and valour in defending their homeland or who have made great contributions to strengthening the country's defensive might."
In a recent award ceremony, January 12 in Tashkent, the government issued awards to 138 law enforcement and military personnel, Samvel Petrosyan, Interior Ministry (MVD) spokesman, told Caravanserai.
They included "Tashkent counter-terrorism police detective Dilshod Nishanov and Bukhara Province counter-terrorism police chief Dilshod Khajiyev", among others, Petrosyan said.
The awards reinforce morale, military personnel say.
"We soldiers ... are sincerely thankful to our government," Uktamjon Bozorboyev, a junior sergeant who received the Order of Valour January 12, told the Uzbekistan National News Agency. "I will concentrate even more on ... defending my country."