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Majlis Podcast: Spy Games In Uzbekistan


Rafik Saifulin, the former chief of Uzbekistan's presidential military think tank, was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

On May 25, a military court in Uzbekistan sentenced the former director of the presidential Institute for Strategic and Interregional Research, Rafik Saifulin, to 12 years in prison after he was convicted of violating Article 157 of Uzbekistan's Criminal Code -- treason -- for allegedly spying for Russia.

Eleven others were convicted along with Saifulin.

Saifulin, 61, had been in government service going way back the to the early years of first Uzbek President Islam Karimov's government.

Saifulin is not the only person to be convicted in Uzbekistan of spying. There are other recent cases.

But there are doubts about the validity of the treason charges against some of these people. Their trials are clouded in secrecy, their relatives prevented from visiting them for months at a time, and allegations of mistreatment and threats hang over their incarcerations and confessions.

On the latest Majlis Podcast, RFE/RL's media-relations manager for South and Central Asia, Muhammad Tahir, moderates a discussion that looks at the use of Article 157 in Uzbekistan and some of the people who have been imprisoned for allegedly violating it.

This week's guests are, speaking from the United States, Elena Kuborskaya, the daughter of 69-year-old Vladimir Kaloshin, a former Defense Ministry journalist who was convicted of spying in March this year and sentenced to 12 years in prison; and speaking from Britain, Babur Yusupov, the son of 67-year-old Kadyr Yusupov, a former Uzbek diplomat who was sentenced in January this year to 5 1/2 years in prison; from California, Steve Swerdlow, a human rights lawyer with long experience in Central Asia; from Prague, Alisher Sidik, the director of RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, known locally as Ozodlik; and Bruce Pannier, the author of the Qishloq Ovozi blog.

Majlis Podcast: Uzbekistan's Spy Games
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About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect some of the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change.

Bruce Pannier
Bruce Pannier

Content draws on the extensive knowledge and contacts of RFE/RL's Central Asian services but also allow scholars in the West, particularly younger scholars who will be tomorrow’s experts on the region, opportunities to share their views on the evolving situation at this Eurasian crossroad.

The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.

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