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Dozens Of Websites In Uzbekistan Suffer Access Problems

Dozens of popular websites in Uzbekistan have suffered from intermittent bouts of inaccessibility over the past week, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

Many users of the websites have blamed the monopolist state Internet service provider for blocking the sites, but Uzbek officials have refused to comment on the issue.

Since most of the inaccessible websites were available via proxy servers, many users concluded that someone has been blocking access to the sites.

On August 3, the ca-news website and the Russian news agency Regnum were inaccessible. On August 9 it was impossible to view virtually any of the country's most popular websites, even via mobile devices.

The high point of the blackout coincided with an annual festival celebrating Uzbekistan's ".uz" Internet domain, which is controlled by the government.

Even then the most-visited ".uz" domain websites such as and were inaccessible.

Users were most angered by the loss of access to all officially sanctioned Islamic websites during the holy month of Ramadan, which began in early August.

The most popular such site is, which is operated by Sheikh Muhammad Sodiq Muhammad Yusuf, a moderate Muslim leader.

The site's administrator, Abu Muslim, told RFE/RL on August 11 that users in Uzbekistan have experienced access problems for the past two days, but the site is now fully accessible.

He said he believes the website blackout was caused by a major technical problem because he said some government sites were also inaccessible.

Internet users in Uzbekistan are also complaining that the speed of Internet has dropped drastically recently. They say even popular search engines such as Russian-language Yandex and Rambler are sometimes inaccessible.

Analysts blame the government for the slowdown and access problems, as Uzbek authorities have a history of blocking opposition and independent websites that focus on Uzbekistan.

Many say the government is clamping down on Internet access in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the country's independence, which is on September 1.

The Paris-based media rights group Reporters Without Borders added Uzbek President Islam Karimov to its list of "enemies of the Internet" for blocking sites and persecuting independent journalists.

An Uzbek parliament deputy proposed last month the tightening of control over social-networking sites in the country. But no action has thus far been taken against such sites as Facebook or Twitter even though dozens of other sites are inaccessible.