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Uzbek Government Cancels RFE's Accreditation

13 December 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty says the shutting down of its Uzbek Service bureau in Tashkent is another attack on the basic human rights of the Uzbek people.

Acting RFE/RL President Jeff Trimble said on 12 December that the move is part of an overall pattern by the Uzbek government to restrict freedom of the press and other rights.

"This unwarranted action by Uzbek authorities further erodes the already dismal state of free speech in Uzbekistan and is yet another attack by [President Islam] Karimov's government on the basic human rights of the Uzbek people," Trimble said. "While hindered, RFE/RL will not be deterred in its efforts to report accurately and objectively about events in Uzbekistan to the people of that country and throughout Central Asia and the rest of our broadcast region."

The Uzbek Foreign Ministry says RFE/RL was involved in hiring Uzbek citizens to work as journalists in Uzbekistan without proper accreditation, and therefore has been violating Uzbek media laws, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reported.

In Kyrgyzstan, President Kurmanbek Bakiev on 12 December ordered a probe into a conflict involving the Pyramid broadcasting firm, a private television and radio broadcasting station, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.

Over the weekend, a group of people unsuccessfully tried to storm the company's offices in Bishkek. Some linked the storming to the failed takeover to Media-Invest, a firm owning 50 percent stock in Pyramid.

And Russia's new government-funded English-language satellite television channel," Russia Today," has been taken off the air, the apparent victim of computer hackers.

(with material from AKIpress/Kabar/Interfax/RIA-Novosti/AFP/AP)