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Majlis Podcast: Uzbekistan Sends A Harsh Message To Bloggers, Political Opponents


Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev on a visit to the regions on February 4.

Since Shavkat Mirziyoev took over as Uzbekistan’s leader in September 2016, the Uzbek government has been saying the country is no longer the repressive state that first President Islam Karimov ruled over for 25 years.

Uzbek authorities say reforms are under way and there is a new respect in the country for basic rights and freedoms.

But in May, Uzbekistan’s judicial system seemed to return to practices not seen since Karimov was alive.

One blogger was imprisoned for 6 1/2 years for reporting about local corruption. At roughly the same time, all but one of the individuals whose incompetence and corruption led to Uzbekistan’s Sardoba dam bursting in May 2020, causing the evacuation of more than 100,000 people in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, widespread property damage, and the death of at least six people, were given prison sentences of five years or less.

Another blogger who voiced support for the LGBT community -- and was beaten outside his apartment for doing just that -- is facing charges. And an opposition party leader, who is trying to get his party registered and run in the presidential election later this year, is facing charges of slander from a group of people who reportedly tried to start a fight with him.

On this week's Majlis podcast, RFE/RL Media-Relations Manager Muhammad Tahir hosts a discussion on the recent investigations and court decisions that seem to go against the people who displease the Uzbek authorities.

This week's guests are: from Kazakhstan, Mihra Rittmann, the Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch; from Germany, Umida Niyazova, the director of the Uzbek Forum For Human Rights; from Prague, Alisher Sidikov, director of RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service, known locally as Ozodlik; and Bruce Pannier, the author of RFE/RL's Qishloq Ovozi blog.

Uzbekistan Sends A Harsh Message To Bloggers, Political Opponents
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Listen to the podcast above or subscribe to the Majlis on iTunes or on Google Podcasts.

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 the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change.

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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