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Uzbekistan: Activist Sees Limited Improvement In Human Rights

Tashkent, 29 August 1996 (RFE/RL) - A leading Uzbek rights activist has returned to Tashkent and says he believes there has been limited improvement in human rights in Uzbekistan in the last six months. Abdumannob Pulatov returned to Uzbekistan last week after living in exile in the United States since 1993. He was invited back and his safety ensured by Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov during the president's Washington visit in June. Pulatov's return has not been reported by government-controlled media.

A member of the banned nationalist opposition movement Birlik (Unity) and a leading human rights campaigner, Pulatov was kidnapped by Uzbek security agents at a human rights conference in the neighboring republic of Kyrgyzstan in 1992.

Jailed for "insulting the president," he was released after international protests. He moved to Moscow, and then sought asylum in the United States.

Correspondents say Pulatov's return is linked to efforts by Uzbekistan to improve relations with the West in general and with Washington in particular.

Pulative is expected to attend next month's United Nations-sponsored International Human Rights Conference in Tashkent.

Uzbekistan's parliament is reported considering lifting a ban on opposition parties. Pulatov's brother founded the banned opposition Birlik movement.