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Uzbekistan5 July 2006

Authorities block access to independent journalist’s website

Independent journalist Serguei Ejkov’s website has been inaccessible within Uzbekistan since 26 June, probably at the government’s behest, Reporters Without Borders said today. Access to many other opposition sites is blocked in this country, which the organisation regards as one of 15 Internet enemies.

“This country is ruled with an iron hand by President Islam Karimov, only a few websites still manage to publish independent information critical of the government, and the Internet blacklist is getting longer and longer,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“We hope this censorship will not discourage local journalists and bloggers as it is still possible to get round the filtering mechanisms put in place by governments,” the press freedom organisation added.

A former contributor to Pravda Vostoka, a newspaper controlled by prime minister’s office, Ejkov is one of the very few journalists to be openly critical of the government. He launched his Russian-language site, www.uzmetronom.com, in April. Its blocking was “the traditional reaction of the authorities to viewpoints that stray from official discourse,” he said.

The site has a “government” section that covers the activities of the administration and parliament, and a “crime” section that criticises judicial errors. Regardless of their Internet Service Provider, people who try to access the site from within Uzbekistan get a "page not found" error message.

Since last November, all of the local ISPs have had to be hooked up to the network operated by the state-owned Uzbektelecom, which makes it easier to establish blacklists. Many other websites are blocked, including www.fergana.ru (a news site), www.freeuz.org (a site operated by the local press freedom group Freeuz) and www.ozodovoz.org (run by the NGO Free Word). Some of the pages on the www.centrasia.org news site are also blocked.

For information about ways to get round censorship, consult the Reporters Without Borders Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents (in Russian).


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