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Uzbek Newspaper Stops Publishing

A prominent Uzbek newspaper has announced that it has suspended publication, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

Bakhodyr Yuldashev, the chief editor of the Russian-language "Zerkalo XXI" ("Mirror XXI"), told RFE/RL that the paper has stopped publishing due to financial difficulties.

"We have suspended publishing the newspaper," he said from Tashkent on November 4. "We haven't given up the license... [and] hopefully we will come back early next year [and resume publishing] once we are on our feet again."

The newspaper, which was founded in 1990, was one of a few media outlets in Uzbekistan that covered important social and economic issues in the country.

"Any of our readers can confirm that we have had tons of critical reports [in our newspaper]," Yuldashev said. "And no one likes criticism, you know? As Uzbeks say, 'even your father doesn't like to hear criticism.'"

Yuldashev added that two other newspapers that he runs, "Novosti Uzbekistana" ("News Of Uzbekistan") and "Wedding-Toyona" ("Wedding-Dowry"), continue to operate.

Another employee at "Zerkalo XXI," who spoke to RFE/RL on condition of anonymity, said that the newspaper has had problems with the state licensing committee for publishing several advertisements that the committee said were "illegal." He added that he thinks this may be the reason for the publication's closure.

But Yuldashev told RFE/RL that "Zerkalo XXI" has not been fined or been told by officials that there were any problems with the newspaper's content.

All media outlets in Uzbekistan are either fully owned and controlled by the government or carefully monitored and censored by it.

Uzbek authorities have shut down all relatively independent newspapers such as "Odamlar Orasida" ("Among People"), "Munosabat" ("Reaction"), "Mohiyat" ("Essence"), and many others that cited financial difficulties in closing or were shut down after being charged with violating procedures for publishing ads.

"Zerkalo XXI" is owned by the Media Business company.