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Uzbek Opposition Party Reports Protest In Samarkand

Uzbek troops after the unrest in Andijon Samarkand, Uzbekistan; 8 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- A banned Uzbek opposition party says hundreds of protesters have gathered in the Samarkand region to demand the release of one of its leaders.

Authorities have so far not commented on the protest report. But Nigara Khidoyatova, a leader of the Ozod Dehqonlar (Free Peasants) party, says at least 600 people have gathered at a collective farm to demand that authorities free a local party activist and rights campaigner who was arrested on 5 June.

She says security forces had cordoned off the farm. Khidoyatova also says the detained activist, Norboi Kholzhigitov, recently received threats from state officials while he campaigned for a reviewal of the collective farm's privatization.

Unrest last month in the eastern city of Andijon officially claimed 173 lives. Human rights groups and opposition parties say up to 1,000 may have been killed in the crackdown that followed.

(RFE/RL's Uzbek Service/Ferghana.Ru/Reuters)

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