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Uzbek Official Collapses, Dies After Being Disgraced For Bad Cotton Harvest

Cotton makes up one-quarter of Uzbekistan's GDP. (file photo)

Shortly after being subjected to a harsh, obscenity-filled scolding over a disappointing cotton harvest, Asilbek Yusupov returned to his office in a remote region in eastern Uzbekistan and collapsed.

Bleeding profusely from his nose and mouth while suffering a stroke, Yusupov fell into a coma on October 3 and died two days later.

Yusupov, the head of the Ulugnor district in Uzbekistan's Andijon region, had been berated during a local cotton-harvest meeting that included a conference call with regional head Shuhrat Abdurakhmanov due to a lackluster haul of Uzbekistan's "white gold."

"During the call, [Abdurakhmanov] was very insulting to Yusupov," a farmer who attended the meeting and requested anonymity out of fear of retribution told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service.

He said the Andijon chief used several derogatory words and impolite terms in his tongue-lashing of Yusupov, who was 57 years old and had three children.

The farmer added that "everyone in Andijon is saying that Abdurakhmanov's [comments] led to Yusupov's death." He said the Andijon chief told district heads that they "should work 25 hours [per day] instead of 24."

When contacted by RFE/RL and asked about Yusupov, Abdurakhmanov said he was in a meeting and could not speak. He did not respond to text messages sent to him.

Yusupov, who became the head of the Ulugnor region in February, was called a "diligent and hard-working" man by a colleague who attended his funeral on October 6.

On July 10, machine and tractor plant head Muzaffar Chorshanbiyev died of a heart attack the same day he was publicly berated for his firm's poor performance by Nishon district head Asror Djuraev.

Uzbekistan is the fifth-largest cotton-producing country in the world and cotton makes up one-quarter of the Uzbek GDP.

Written by RFE/RL senior correspondent Pete Baumgartner based on reporting by RFE/RL's Uzbek Service