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Uzbek Authorities Tighten Control Over Foreign Journalists

RFE/RL's Tashkent bureau after authorities ordered it closed in December (RFE/RL) March 8, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Uzbekistan's government has passed a resolution on regulating the activities of foreign journalists in the country, according to RFE/RL's Uzbek Service.

The resolution, published on March 7, prescribes that foreign journalists are "forbidden to call for changes by force in the existing constitutional set-up, to interfere in domestic affairs, to violate territorial integrity of the country, to provoke war and violence, cruelty, national, racial and religious hostility."

The document includes wording to suggest it is aimed at "creating the necessary conditions for media correspondents of foreign states."

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said the resolution is aimed at further reducing independent reporting in Uzbekistan.

"It's a clear message addressed to the journalists in order to [dissuade] them from criticizing the authorities," Annabelle Arki, head of Europe Desk, told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service. "It's obvious that referring to terms like territorial integrity, religious hostility, violence, the [Uzbek] authorities mean that they are afraid [of] another riot or revolution."

The BBC withdrew its reporters from Uzbekistan citing harassment and persecution of correspondents after the official crackdown on the Andijon uprising in May 2005. Uzbek authorities in December refused to prolong the accreditation of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Following the refusal, the station closed its Tashkent office.

(with additional RIA Novosti reporting)

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