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Uzbek President Chooses Same Filmmaker Putin Used Ahead Of Election

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyaev (file photo)
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyaev (file photo)

TASHKENT -- A Russian production company that made a documentary glorifying Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2015 has been hired to shoot a film about Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev ahead of an October presidential poll.

An employee of the Uzbekkino Film Company told RFE/RL on March 8 on condition of anonymity that the chief of the presidential administration, Zainilobiddin Nizomiddinov, is coordinating the project with the Masterskaya film production company from Russia.

Masterskaya's founder and producer, Saida Medvedeva, a native of neighboring Kazakhstan, arrived in the Uzbek capital last week.

Before leaving Moscow for Tashkent, she told Russian media that her trip's goal was to shoot a documentary about the leader of Uzbekistan, which she called “a country that is going through its third Renaissance.”

Medvedeva said her documentary would premiere on September 1, the 30th Independence Day of the Central Asian nation, and less than two months before the presidential elections scheduled for October 24.

Uzbek cinema expert Akmal Rizaev told RFE/RL on March 8 that he had a chance to get acquainted with the documentary's materials, and that he expects the documentary will be very similar to one that promoted Putin in 2015 to mark the 15th year of his rule.

Masterskaya was also behind a series of films that supported Putin's successful bid for a third term as president in 2012. They included Crisis 2008: Saving Russia, which portrayed him as shielding the country from the worst of the global economic slump.

"The documentary’s main idea is to sacralize Mirziyoev’s ruling, meaning to exclude any doubts among people about his unconditional and limitless leadership," Rizaev said.

"The film will depict Mirzoyev as a charismatic leader who brings innovations to society and takes care of ordinary people. Mirziyoev’s monologues will be used by the filmmakers. The documentary will not focus on other Uzbek politicians; its main idea is to show the "people" and their unchangeable leader Mirziyoev."

Mirziyoev took over the most-populous nation of the Central Asian region of 32 million after his authoritarian predecessor Islam Karimov's death was announced on September 1, 2016.

Since then, Mirziyoev has positioned himself as a reformer, releasing political prisoners and opening his country to its neighbors and outer world, though many activists have cautioned that the reforms have not gone far enough.

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