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Uzbek Oppositionist Appeals To Russia For Help

(RFE/RL) 2 November 2005 -- An Uzbek opposition politician today called on Russia to publicly acknowledge human rights abuses in Uzbekistan and drop support for its authoritarian government.

Nodira Khidoyatova, one of the leaders of Uzbekistan's Sunshine opposition group, said Russia's unequivocal backing providedPresident Islam Karimov's government a free hand in his bid to suppress the opposition.

Khidoyatova, speaking at a news conference in Moscow, said the Russian government could do "quite a lot to stop the suffering of the Uzbek people."

She also said Russia should understand that the Uzbek government has become internationally isolated because of its repressive policies.

"Why has Uzbekistan, or rather the Uzbek government, now turned to Russia? Because Europe and America have closed their doors," Khidoyatova said. "These are not voluntary steps. Russia may say it's an excellent moment for increasing its influence [in Central Asia], and I agree with that, I understand that. Fine, let's say they bought their influence. But what if suddenly there is a burst in Uzbekistan, a revolution, chaos, a change of government? Then what? Uzbekistan will turn to America, and Russia will lose once and for all its respect and its influence all across Central Asia."

A number of Western governments have criticized Karimov for using indiscriminate force to quash a revolt in the town of Andijon in mid-May.


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