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Uzbekistan Denies Involvement In Activist's Beating

(RFE/RL) January 8, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Uzbek authorities have denied a claim by human rights activist Elena Urlaeva that police were behind her beating last week, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

In a statement, Uzbekistan's Interior Ministry maintained Urlaeva was beaten by relatives of convicts to whom she had allegedly promised legal service, which they say she failed to provide.

Urlaeva today reiterated her charge that she was assaulted by a group of women hired by Uzbek police.

Urlaeva has suffered beatings and detentions in the past, and has been sentenced to forced psychiatric treatment three times.

In August 2005, she was arrested for publishing a cartoon of the national emblem of Uzbekistan and for being in possession of material that criticized the regime of Uzbek President Islam Karimov. Since neither of these was covered by the Uzbek Criminal Code, Urlaeva was put in a psychiatric hospital.

Human rights organizations have protested her forced admissions into the hospitals.

(with additional material from AP)