Dismissed powerful longtime National Security Service (SNB) chief Rustam Inoyatov, who had been seen as Mirziyoyev’s rival, has been appointed as State Adviser to the Uzbek President for Legal Issues.

Uzbek media reports say President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a decree on appointing Inoyatov as the State Adviser to the President of Uzbekistan for Political and Legal Issues on January 31.

Prior to this appointment, Rustam Inoyatov was chairman of the National Security Service of Uzbekistan.

By another decree of the head of state, the 51-year-old Ikhtiyor Abdullayev, formerly Prosecutor-General of Uzbekistan, was appointed to head the National Security Service, replacing Rustam Inoyatov.

Meanwhile, Radio Liberty’s Uzbek Service, citing two senior government officials who wanted to remain unnamed, reported yesterday that Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev told a meeting of the Prosecutor-General's Office and the NSS on January 31 that Inoyatov, who is 73 and led the SNB for almost 23 years, had been replaced by Ikhtiyor Abdullayev.  Mirziyoyev, who has reshuffled Uzbekistan's ruling elite since he came to power in 2016, reportedly strongly criticized the way the security service had been run.

The SNB, the main successor of the Soviet-era KGB in Uzbekistan, is considered among the most closed and powerful agencies in Uzbekistan.

Inoyatov, who has avoided publicity and preferred to stay in the shadows, has been one of the most influential officials in Uzbekistan for years.

Mirziyoyev reportedly criticized the security service, Interior Ministry, and Prosecutor-General's Office for what he called “systemic violations of ordinary people's rights,” including the principle of presumed innocence.

Mirziyoyev also stressed the importance of reforms in the address, saying that government actions must be based on democratic principles.

Rustam Inoyatov (born June 22, 1944) is an Uzbek government official, as well as a colonel-general. He had served as the head of the National Security Service of Uzbekistan since 1995. He was said to have been part of the Tashkent clan, a powerful faction within the Uzbek elite.  He is said to be one of the most powerful men in the country.

Rustam Inoyatov was born June 22, 1944, to Rasoul Inoyatov, a colonel in the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic's KGB, being part of an influential family.  He graduated from the School of Eastern Studies in 1968.  Inoyatov learned English and Persian.