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Uzbekistan31 August 2007

National holiday reminder about severe repression of media

On the eve of Uzbekistan’s national holiday tomorrow, Reporters Without Borders condemns the severity of governmental repression of independent news media and human rights activists, especially when they try to point out the lack of democracy and freedoms, combat discrimination or expose corruption or torture.

“In office since independence in 1991 and reelected for five years in 2000, President Islam Karimov had his current term extended by referendum in 2005,” the press freedom organisation said. “The next election, originally scheduled for January of this year, is finally going to be held in December. This is a crucial year. We already know the media will not be able to cover this election freely and will not have access to essential information.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “The media and foreign NGOs have been constantly harassed this year. Several NGOs that have headquarters in other countries or get foreign funding were forced to stop working altogether after withdrawal of their accreditation. We were appalled by the six- and seven-year prison sentences imposed on Gulbahor Turayeva and Umida Niyazova in the spring and by the methods used to make them recant on their past activities.”

The European Union decided on 14 May to partially ease the sanctions adopted against Uzbekistan after the March 2005 events in Andijan, but many journalists are fleeing the country and media continue to be closed down. Said Abdurakhimov of and Alexei Volosevitch of were detained and interrogated by the military on 23 July for unclear reasons. On 31 July, the government agency that regulates the press ordered the closure of Odamlar Orasida, an independent weekly that covered sensitive social issues such as prostitution and homosexuality.

Furthermore, Deutsche Welle correspondent Natalia Bushuyeva would almost certainly have been imprisoned if she had not fled the country after being accused of working without a licence and tax fraud in March.

President Karimov is on the Reporters Without Borders list of press freedom predators. Uzbekistan was ranked 158th out of 168 countries in the organisation’s 2006 World Press Freedom Index. There have been at least 31 serious press freedom violations since the Andijan massacre.

  In this country
9 March - Uzbekistan
Sentences of 5 to 12 years in prison for five journalists
19 November - Uzbekistan
Supreme Court in autonomous republic upholds journalist’s ten year sentence
18 November - Uzbekistan
Fear that appeal court will allow imprisonment to silence Karakalpakstan’s last independent voice
10 October - Uzbekistan
Shock at journalist’s ten year prison sentence
16 September - Central Asia
European Union must not abandon press freedom defenders

in the annual report
Uzbekistan - Annual Report 2008
Uzbekistan - Annual report 2007
Uzbekistan - 2006 Annual report

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2 June - Ukraine
Potential witness’s death deals severe blow to probe into journalist’s murder
2 June - Turkey
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Regrettable decision by appeal court to lift ban on magazine only if offending photo is covered up

5 February 2009 - Bulgaria
“Resignation or resistance, Bulgaria’s embattled press hesitates”
28 January 2009 - Russia
Fact-finding visit : Moscow double murder may have been linked to November attack on local newspaper editor
27 June 2008 - Turkey
Investigation report into the detention of journalist Haci Bogatekin, imprisoned for more than two months and facing ten and a half years in prison

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Jusuf Ruzimuradov

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