Sharof Rashidovich Rashidov (in Cyrillic Uzbek: Шароф Рашидович Рашидов ; in Russian: Шараф Рашидович Рашидов Sharaf Rashidovich Rashidov) (6 November [O.S. 24 October] 1917 – 31 October 1983) was a Communist Party leader in the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic and a CPSU Central Committee Politbureau candidate member between 1961 and 1983.
Born the day before the Russian Revolution to a poor peasant family in Jizzakh, Uzbekistan, Sharof Rashidov worked as a teacher, journalist and editor for a Samarkand newspaper. He returned home in 1942 with wounds suffered on the German front in World War 2. He became head of the Uzbekistan Writers Union in 1949, and was elected to the post of Chairman of the Praesidium of the Uzbek Supreme Soviet in 1950. In 1959, he became First Secretary of the Uzbek Communist Party, a post he held to his death in 1983.
In the Soviet Union his name became synonymous with corruption, nepotism and the Great Cotton Scandal of the late Brezhnev period. As orders from Moscow to grow increasing quantities of cotton, the Uzbek government responded by reporting miraculous growth in land irrigated and harvested, and record improvements in production and efficiency. Today it would seem that most of these records were falsified. The Uzbek leadership used these exaggerated figures to transfer substantial amounts of wealth from central Soviet funds into Uzbekistan. When this was discovered by Andropov, Rashidov committed suicide.
During the decade following the death of Rashidov, Moscow attempted to regain the central control over the Uzbek SSR, which had weakened in the previous decade. In 1986, it was announced that almost the entire party and government leadership of the republic had conspired in falsifying cotton production figures. A massive purge of the Uzbek leadership was carried out, with prosecutors brought in from Moscow, leading to widespread arrests, executions, and suicides. It may never be known how high the corruption extended, as Brezhnev’s own son-in-law, Yuri Churbanov was implicated in the affair. In the rest of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan became synonymous with corruption even though such corruption was widespread throughout the whole Union. After Uzbekistan's independence, Rashidov re-emerged as a national hero. He is seen in Uzbekistan as having been a strong leader who found a way to cleverly defy Moscow and "beat the system” while managing to create a situation where Uzbekistan became quite autonomous of central control.