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Uzbekistan Deports Russian Journalist

Uzbek President Islam Karimov has been heavily criticized since the Andijon events (file photo) 13 August 2005 -- Uzbekistan deported Russian journalist Igor Rotar, who had been detained upon arriving in the country two days ago.

The Norway-based Forum 18 organization, a religious freedom organization for whom Rotar has worked, said that officials detained Rotar without explanation on 11 August after he arrived on a flight from Kyrgyzstan. Rotar writes for Western think tanks and wrote articles critical of the Uzbek government following the violent events in Andijon in May that left hundreds of people dead.

A border guard at the Tashkent airport said Rotar left today on a flight to Moscow. The guard spoke on condition that
he not be named.

Forum 18, which monitors breaches of religious freedom worldwide, said on its website that Rotar was deported after
refusing to buy his own flight ticket. Rotar, as a Russian citizen, would normally be able to enter Uzbekistan without a visa. Uzbek officials have declined comment thus far.

International human rights groups and Western governments have criticized Uzbekistan for its rights record,
including violations of religious rights, and alleged torture in jails in addition to the tragedy in Andijon.