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Ouzbekistan1 February 2002

Ruslan Sharipov once again threatened

In a letter addressed on the 1st of February 2002 to Kadyrov Rachid Hamidovich, public prosecutor of Uzbekistan and to Kokir Almatov, Minister of the Interior, Reporters without Borders (RSF) protests against the acts of aggression being carried out by the police against Ruslan Sharipov, correspondent of the Russian press agency, Prima and president of the Independent Journalists Association of Uzbekistan. " We denounce the obvious attempt being made to intimidate a journalist of the opposition. We would like to make a reminder that the fight against terrorism does not in any way justify the brutal repression against all independent news", declared Robert Ménard, general secretary of the organisation. "We ask you to investigate this attack and to keep us informed of its upcome", added M. Menard.

According to information gathered by RSF, Ruslan Sharipov, correspondent for the Russian press agency Prima, president of the Independent Journalists Association of Uzbekistan, and animator of an Internet site, was attacked on the night of the 30th of January in Tachkent by two representatives of the police force. The two officers from the secret service, who appeared as senior officers from the criminal police force, attacked and dragged the journalist to a car identified as a Nexia with X8110 on its number plate. They then proceeded to hit him and immobilize him before forcing him into the car. Several witnesses were present at the scene. One of the officers asked : " You are not afraid to write articles in Uzbekistan ? " After several threats the officers set him free apologizing for having detained him without a reason and without a legal warrant. Ruslan Sharipov and the committee of the editorial staff of the press agency Prima consider that this attack is tied to an article recently written by the journalist concerning the referendum of the 27th of January on the extension of the presidential mandate of president Islam Karimov.

In 2001, Ruslan Sharipov and members of his family were already subjected to a number of pressures from the authorities. On the 12th of July, 2001 he was chased by employees of the security service (NSS) while on his way to the court of Tachkent where he was going in order to cover a trial. His assailants were about to hit him when passer’ bys intervened. The journalist managed to take refuge in the local headquarters of the Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). He had published, at the end of August, a series of articles denouncing the repression of Muslims in the country and was otherwise making an investigation on the suspicious deaths of a number of opponents. On the 31st of August he was taken in for questioning by agents from the NSS who accused him of being involved with a terrorist group. Following these incidents Ruslan Sharipov requested, in an open letter to the Uzbek president, an end to being tailed by the security services, an end to pressures being made on his family, and that he may be allowed to pursue his profession as an independent journalist.

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