President Karimov likes to call foreign journalists “agitators,” even “terrorists,” and since 2005 has worked assiduously to make it impossible for foreign media to operate in the country. But most of his media victims since he came to power in 1989 have been local journalists. He eliminated all opposition and independent media outlets in the course of crushing a revolt in the eastern city of Andijan in May 2005.
He has the brutal habits of a former Soviet functionary and his victims, including critical journalists, disappear, are confined to mental hospitals or are arbitrarily thrown in prison. He said in 1999 he was “prepared to rip off the heads of 200 people, to sacrifice their lives, in order to preserve peace and tranquillity.”
Karimov was ubiquitous in the state media during his campaign to be reelected in December 2007. The state television, in particular, constantly stressed his merits and credited him with all the country’s “successes.” Running against three low-profile rival candidates, he won 88 per cent of the vote.
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