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Watchdog

Anti-AIDS Campaigner Serving 7-Year Sentence In Uzbekistan

Maksim PopovMaksim Popov
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Maksim Popov
Maksim Popov
Evidence has emerged that an anti-AIDS campaigner in Uzbekistan was sentenced to seven years in prison after authorities deemed his brochure incompatible with local traditions.

Twenty-eight-year-old Maksim Popov, who heads anti-AIDS nonprofit Izis, was arrested in January 2009 and sentenced in September.

But details of the sentencing, in a country where information is tightly controlled, have come to light only recently.

RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports that Popov is currently serving his jail term in Uzbekistan's Navoi prison.

Izis is funded by a number of foreign donors, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Britain's Department for International Development.

The Russian-language booklet at issue, "HIV and AIDS Today," gives detailed information about preventive measures to avoid the deadly disease, including the importance of sterile syringes for drug users and ways to practice safe sex. It explains, for example, how to use condom.

In a society where discussing sex is taboo, the court found the brochure amounted to a how-to guide for young people to have sex and use drugs.

The court declared the booklet's contents "illegal" and ordered all copies seized by police and immediately destroyed.

Strongman President Islam Karimov, who has ruled for more than 20 years, takes a dim view of dissent and authorities are highly suspicious of even apolitical NGOs.
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Justin from: UK
February 26, 2010 10:51
What on earth are you talking about? No wonder the poor man has been apprehended. Did he not realise that it has been decreed that there is no AIDs in Uzbekistan.

by: Turgai Sangar from: Eurasia
February 26, 2010 16:32
Well maybe its’ because the regime has its own interpretation of managing HIV?
http://www.khilafah.com/index.php/news-watch/central-asia/8734-in-tashkent-a-child-died-deliberately-infected-with-hiv

Of course, the regime’s move is hypocrite as hell, because its very anti-Islamic policies have worked social degeneration including prostitution and drug abuse (and thus AIDS) in hand and its own petty barons are eager whore-hoppers.

On the other hand, the thing is also that many of these internationally funded (or at least Western-designed) HIV prevention projects are, in practice, advocacy bureaus for prostitution and sexual debauchery. No matter whatever fancy development blabla come up, if you distribute condoms and offer free health care to prostitutes, you support and encourage the practice – period.

It’s working on people’s nerves. I remember a case of a Europe-based medical NGO that closed its HIV programme in Osh because of the increasing hostilty among the people from the mahallas and neighbouring towns. Its staff was accused of supporting prostitution. The problem was, if you saw the behaviour of some of their expats and local staff (the kind of loud-mouthed local babes that you often find in UN and NGO offices) and their sometimes raunchy agitprop of which they assumed that it would go down well with the youth, they reaped as they sow.

by: Anonymous
March 02, 2010 22:36
so how do we help this poor guy?

by: Jeffrey Andreoni from: London
March 12, 2010 17:23
On FB they've started a group for the Amnesty of Maksim Popov. Join up and spread the world.

by: Latipa from: Central Asia
March 18, 2010 08:44
2Turgai Sangar
This is a silly thing to say "if you distribute condoms and offer free health care to prostitutes, you support and encourage the practice." What really supports the practice is demand, i.e. MEN who pay for sex.

by: Corrina from: Texas
March 21, 2010 16:48
embassy@uzbekistan.org

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