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Uzbekistan Marks Independence Day Without Public Events Due To Pandemic

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev marks Independence Day in Tashkent on August 31.
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev marks Independence Day in Tashkent on August 31.

TASHKENT -- Uzbekistan has marked its Independence Day without any public events amid concern over the spread of the coronavirus.

President Shavkat Mirziyoev had already announced on August 20 that Independence Day this year would be marked on September 1 without public celebrations and concerts due to the pandemic, which has infected nearly 42,000 people in Uzbekistan.

The holiday, which celebrates Uzbekistan's independence from the Soviet Union, is one of the country's most important and features performances by musicians and dancers.

A single official event devoted to the 29th anniversary of the Central Asian state's independence -- and held without any audience -- was broadcast by state television on August 31.

That same day, Mirziyoev attended a ceremony to commemorate Soviet-era repressions.

The president took part in a joint prayer to honor the thousands of Uzbeks killed or sent to prison by dictator Josef Stalin's government.

"Those people were real leaders, better representatives of intellectuals, prominent writers, culture experts. Had not they been persecuted, they could have enormously contributed to our nation, science, economy, and culture," Mirziyoev said.

According to Uzbekistan's official data, more than 100,000 people in the republic faced repressions between 1937 and 1953, including 13,000 who were executed.

In general, across the former Soviet Union, the number of people who faced repressions in that period of time is believed to be 3.8 million, of whom 800,000 were executed.

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