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U.S.-Based NGOs Forced To End Uzbek Operations

(RFE/RL) March 6, 2006 -- The U.S.-based organization Eurasia Foundation, which promotes free media and democratic institutions through funding efforts within the Commonwealth of Independent States, announced today that it is suspending its activities in Uzbekistan.

The announcement came just hours before a Tashkent court ordered the U.S.-based nonprofit group Freedom House to close down its Uzbek offices after concluding that the group violated laws on nongovernmental organizations.

Eurasia Foundation Shut Down

Last week, Uzbekistan's Justice Ministry asked authorities to close down the Eurasia Foundation's office for failing to properly register its office and for holding seminars without permission from the Uzbek authorities.

The head of the Eurasia Foundation office in Uzbekistan, Jeff Erlich, said on March 6 that the group had decided to suspend its work to avoid wasting further time and effort fighting legal battles.

Freedom House Appeal Rejected

The Justice Ministry asked in October that the activities of Freedom House be suspended for six months after the ministry said it had uncovered violations.

Freedom House's director in Uzbekistan, Branka Sesto, had appealed the decision but it was rejected.

(TASS, Interfax)

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