Accessibility links

Breaking News

Uzbek Intellectuals Call For Probe Into Soviet-Era 'Cotton Case' Investigator

Telman Gdlyan

A group of Uzbek intellectuals is urging the government to launch a criminal probe targeting Telman Gdlyan, a Soviet-era investigator who led an anticorruption campaign known as "the Uzbek case" or "the cotton case" in the 1980s and is based in Moscow.

In an open letter published in Uzbek media on May 4, the intellectuals demanded "due punishment for individuals responsible for crimes and the restoration of historical justice."

"To our mind, it is expedient to request that Telman Gdlyan be brought to criminal accountability," said the letter. It said that Gdlyan, 77, is suspected of "committing crimes against the Uzbek people."

The authors asserted that Gdlyan "literally terrorized the Uzbek people and forged hundreds of documents" during the 1983-89 campaign in Uzbekistan.

They called on the government to seek the extradition of Gdlyan and other Soviet-era investigators who were involved.

The anticorruption campaign in Uzbekistan during Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms in mid-1980s led to the prosecution of some 800 officials in Uzbekistan and Russia.

More than 4,000 people -- including former Soviet First Deputy Interior Minister Yury Churbanov, who was the late Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev's son-in-law -- were jailed.

In 1989, Soviet prosecutors charged Gdlyan with corruption and violation of investigation regulations. Gdlyan was sacked from the Prosecutor-General's Office but avoided criminal prosecution as he enjoyed immunity as a Soviet lawmaker.

In November 2016, Soviet-era Uzbek leader Inomjon Usmonhojaev, who was convicted during "the cotton case" in 1989, was formally exonerated.

His exoneration followed the death of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who became leader of Soviet Uzbekistan in 1989 and ruled with an iron hand as president for 25 years following independence.

Usmonhojaev died at the age of 86 in March 2017.