14 december 2017

Central Asia news

Journalism in Uzbekistan is not history. It has but moved to the Net

26.02.2007 14:44 msk

Aleksei Volosevich (Tashkent)

Uzbekistan

The Uzbek authorities did their best over the last several years to do away with independent media outlets. At first sight, they actually succeeded because there are practically no independent media outlets in the republic anymore. And yet, rapid development of communication technologies has essentially thwarted the authorities' attempts to spare the population undesirable knowledge.

Uzbek journalism is not history. It merely shifted to a new medium, namely the Net. The matter concerns several dozens web sites and foreign newspapers dedicated to Uzbekistan - to a greater or smaller extent.

That the authorities keep doing what they can to contain seditious materials. Access to the particularly "malicious" web sites is blocked at the state level. Moreover, a whole bunch of counter-propagandistic web sites appeared not long ago. Even that, however, is essentially an exercise in futility. Minimal skills in dealing with proxy-servers and anonymizers enable users to detour around the blocks and gain access to the information the authorities would dearly like kept under the lid. As for the so called "independent" web sites which the authorities expect will help with moulding public opinion in the Internet, attitude towards them is quite adequate. In other words, freedom of expression is getting the upper hand - slowly but surely.

Here is a brief review of 50 best-known web sites that post materials on Uzbekistan and comprise the free (or not so free) information zone of Uzbek journalism.

INFORMATION-ANALYTICAL WEB SITES

Uzmetronom (http://www.uzmetronom.com)

Established in early 2006, the web site in the Russian language on Uzbek realities promptly became popular. The alacrity with which information appears there, familiarity with the subject, and caustic and ironic style of data presentation earned the web site a great deal of dedicated visitors. Sergei Yezhkov, a free lancing journalist from Tashkent (he used to work for the republican newspaper Pravda Vostoka), is the author and founder of the web site with the editorial office in the capital of Uzbekistan.

The Uzbek authorities view Uzmetronom as one of the worst pernicious web sites. Access to it is closed, of course. The following headlines offer an insight into the content - Foreign Investors Left Without Hope, Uzbek Minister Convinced Europe, Fired For Being A Kazakh, Premier Passed Examination, Comrades' Rotten Eggs, and Parliament Crazy, President Doesn't Notice.

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CentrAsia (http://www.centrasia.ru)

One of the best popular web sites that also posts materials on Russia, Iran, Mongolia, China, Pakistan, and other countries. As a rule, however, the web site uses materials from other sources and media outlets. Their scope is fairly impressive: 30-40 new articles are posted every day ranging from serious analyses to satiric pieces. Every visitor will certainly find something to his or her liking. The web site was established in early 2002. Vitaly Khlyupin, a former citizen of Kazakhstan who obtained citizenship of the Russian Federation, is the editor. The editorial office is located in Moscow.

In Uzbekistan, CentrAsia is off bounds - either entirely or else blocks are restricted to individual materials. Titles of these latter lend an insight into what materials are regarded as "dangerous" - Uzbek Secret Services Released Pastor Garifulin, EU: Looking For Negotiations With The Dictator, Birdamlik Planned Rallies Throughout Uzbekistan For March 8, How Prosecutors In Tashkent Fabricated A Case Against Major Of The Police Sabirov, Holdorov Of Erk Sentenced To 6 Years In Andijan.

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Uznews (http://www.uznews.net)

Established recently, this web site makes an emphasis on the human rights aspect. It is usually the first Net resource to report arrests of independent journalists and human rights activists. The web site faithfully reports every protest action regardless of where it takes place - in the Ferghana Valley, Samarkand, Horezm, Karakalpakia, or any other region of Uzbekistan. Also importantly, Uznews is getting information from the regions of the country where other news agencies do not have any correspondents.

It may be added as well that Uznews journalists do not mince their words and usually call a spade a spade. (In other words, they never refer to Islam Karimov as the president and representative of the people and merely brand him as a dictator.) Web site founder and editor Galima Buharbayeva was director of IWPR Tashkent office once. The official authorities regard Uznews as an enemy, which explains why it is permanently blocked. The web site is run from abroad.

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Oasis (http://www.ca-oasis.info)

This analytical journal dedicated to Central Asian countries is updated twice every month. Oasis formulates its objectives and tasks in the following manner, "1. Establishment of a politically independent source of information on Central Asian countries; 2. Development of study and analysis as the genres somewhat slighted in Central Asia; and 3. Support of the young generation of journalists."

Young journalists (under 35), some of them university students, constitute the majority of the journal's staff. Everyone involved is a citizen or former citizen of some Central Asian country or other. E-mailing its materials, Oasis is a project of the Center of Extreme Journalism with help from the National Endowment for Democracy (USA). Oleg Panfilov of Moscow is the project head.

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Free Uzbekistan (http://www.afreeuzb.com)

This is the official web site of the international association For Democratic Reforms and Rights of Ethnic Minorities in Uzbekistan. The very name of the resource is quite revealing. The web site posts materials on the political and socioeconomic situation in Uzbekistan, human rights abuses, arrests and persecution of journalists and enemies of the regime, statements of the human rights community and victims of the authorities.

The web site is updated on a daily basis, its materials are available in the Russian language. Oleg Shestakevich of Belgium is administrator of the web site access to which in Uzbekistan is blocked.

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Institute for War and Peace Reporting (http://www.iwpr.net)

Web site of the British Institute for War and Peace Reporting, it concentrates on the developments in the Balkans, Iraq, Africa, Caucasus, Central Asia, and Afghanistan.

Its materials are available in Russian.

Fearing for the lives of its staff, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting closed its office in Uzbekistan in 2005. New articles on Uzbekistan appear on the web sites several times a month.

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EurasiaNet (http://www.eurasianet.org)

Professional analytical web site whose materials are available in Russian and English. EurasiaNet posts information and analytical materials on political, economic, social life and environmental situation in Central Asia and Caucasus, Russia, Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

The web site operates within the framework of Central Eurasia, a project supported by Open Society Institute (Soros Foundation). Its editorial office is located in New York.

Articles on Uzbekistan appear two to four times a month. Access to most of them in the republic itself is of course closed. The matter concerns materials with the titles like Uzbekistan: Cotton Factory In Ferghana, Inside Look, Atmosphere Of Cooperation At Turkish Summit, Uzbekistan Surprised By EU Decision to Extend Sanctions, Revolutionary At Distance: Uzbek Immigrant Trying To Foment Protests In Tashkent.

Die Deutsche Welle (http://www.dw-world.de)

Web site of the German broadcaster is available in Russian. It includes a Central Asian section that posts materials on the developments and processes in Central Asia, Uzbekistan included. Archives of radio broadcasts is available as well. Access to the web site in Uzbekistan is blocked.

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Ozodlik (http://www.ozodlik.org)

Web site of the Uzbek Service of Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe. Its materials on all countries of the Central Asian region are available in the Uzbek language. The web site includes an archive of audio files.

The Uzbek authorities closed the RL/RFE office and closed access to the web site in 2005.

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America Ovozi (http://www.voanews.com/uzbek)

Uzbek Service of the radio Voice Of America. Its materials on Uzbekistan and other countries of the region are available in Uzbek. Access to the web site in Uzbekistan is blocked.

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BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/uzbek)

Uzbek Service of the BBC offers its materials in the Uzbek language. BBC office in Uzbekistan itself has been closed and access to the web site blocked since 2005.

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Valley of Peace (http://freedolina.net)

Web site of the journalistic network, it specializes on analysis of the state of affairs in the Ferghana Valley. New radio programs appear on the broadcasting schedule of four radio stations of the southern part of Kyrgyzstan twice a month in the Russian, Uzbek, and Kyrgyz languages. Archive of broadcasts may be browsed.

Backed by International Media Support (which is financed by the Foreign Ministry of Denmark), project Valley of Peace or Debates? was established in 2004. The project promotes stability, democracy, freedom of expression, and pluralism in the media in problematic regions where conflicts or crises are possible. A special emphasis is made on the problems of extremism and terrorism.

Access to the web site in Uzbekistan closed, no doubt because of the materials titled Youth And Crime, Uzbek Refugees, Quality Of Education, Traffic, Immigration Processes, Ethnic Relations In Ferghana Valley, Regional Militarization, Andijan: One Year Later, and others like these.

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Media.Uz (http://www.mediauz.ucoz.ru)

Web site of independent Uzbek journalists, it posts materials in the Uzbek language. The materials are dedicated to economic and political situation in Uzbekistan, mass media, censorship, harassment of journalists, human rights activists, and opposition leaders. Access to it in Uzbekistan is closed.

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Arena (http://www.freeuz.org)

Dedicated to freedom of expression and media in Uzbekistan, the web site completed its program of renovation by June 2006. It offers a great deal of interesting materials on activities of the republican media outlets and general situation in Uzbekistan. The materials are available in Russian and English. Web site founder Inera Safargaliyeva, a journalist from Tashkent, left Uzbekistan in 2006 because of a campaign of intimidation. Access to the web site in Uzbekistan is closed.

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Zona.KZ (http://www.zonakz.net)

Independent Internet-newspaper Zona.KZ or former Navigator is a major project dedicated to Kazakhstan. It also materials on other countries of the region, Uzbekistan among them. Yuri Mizinov of Alma-Ata is the web site owner and editor-in-chief. Zona.KZ is sometimes blocked in Uzbekistan and sometimes available without restrictions.

Here are some of the titles - Presidential Republic's Authoritarianism Remains Unchangeable, From Poor Homo Sapiens Community To Free Citizens Community, Uzbekistan Is Close, Transition To Cyrillic, Borat Vs Kazinform.

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Vremya Vostoka (http://www.easttime.ru)

Vremya Vostoka is a project dedicated to Central Asian and Middle East countries set up by the Kyrgyz Institute of Strategic Analysis and Prognosis. Akylbek Saliyev (Bishkek) is director of the Institute of Strategic Analysis and Prognosis. Materials of web site are available in the Russian language.

Materials on Uzbekistan are usually taken from other similar information sources. The general content is nevertheless fairly interesting, even judging by the titles alone - EU Wouldn't Lift Sanctions Against Uzbekistan, Uzbek Media Missed Another Kyrgyz Revolution, Uzbekistan Amends Political Structure, UN Secretary General: Human Rights Abuses In Uzbekistan, Sex-Tourism And Uzbekistan: Compatibility Coefficient.

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Free Asia (http://www.freeas.org)

This Internet-newspaper was founded by immigrants from the late USSR currently living in Europe. Presenting itself as a "Central Asian News Bulletin", the newspaper concentrates on Kazakhstan. Materials on Uzbekistan are quite rare, but access to the web site is blocked in this country all the same (probably because of the word Svobodnaya or Free in the title).

Examples of titles - Uigurstan In The Center, December 1986: Lies And Truth, Kazakhgate: History And Facts.

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Ferghana.Ru (http://www.fergananews.com)

An independent Russian news agency, Ferghana.Ru is one of the most popular resources specializing in Central Asia. Subject-matter is determined as "News from Ferghana, Uzbekistan, and Central Asia; political, economic, cultural, and military news from Central Asian countries; relations between Russia and countries of the Commonwealth; terrorism, armed conflicts; ethnography and anthropology; arts and literature; confessions; secular life and value of individual life."

Materials are available in Russian, English, and Uzbek. The web site includes numerous references to articles in other media outlets (three languages). The web site publishes three to five articles of its own and up to twenty brief reports and accounts every day. A great deal of photos from the region is what distinguishes Ferghana.Ru.

Its widespread network of correspondents in all major cities in the region enables Ferghana.Ru to be instantly aware of all latest developments. Materials may be e-mailed to subscribers (free of charge and for a fee). Daniil Kislov of Moscow is the founder and editor-in-chief. Access to its web site closed, Ferghana.Ru has been on the Uzbek authorities' black list for the last two years.

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WEB SITES OF HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS

Human Rights Watch (http://www.hrw.org/russian/uzbekistan.html)

A web site of the international human rights organization, it offers its materials in the Russian language. New articles on Uzbekistan appear several times a month. Updates on the state of affairs in the republic Door To Door, Creating Image Of Enemy, Lead Rain, Covering Tracks. Access to the web site in Uzbekistan is blocked.

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Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Activists of Uzbekistan (http://www.ignpu.com)

The web site posts statements of and reports from the Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Activists of Uzbekistan established by Surat Ikramov (a human rights activist from Tashkent) in 2002. According to the web site, "studying mass repressions and persecution for religious convictions, members of the Initiative Group monitor the practice of torture and trials in Tashkent and the Tashkent, Syrdarja, and Samarkand regions." Information on political trials, reprisals, assaults, tortures, and other human rights abuses in Uzbekistan is also available.

Materials are available in the Russian language (e-mailed to subscribers). Access to the web site in Uzbekistan is denied.

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Ezgulik (http://www.ezgulik.org)

Web site of human rights organization Ezgulik or Good Deed posts information on human rights abuses and updates on activities of regional cells of the organization. Content in Russian, Uzbek, and English is updated every several days. Access to it in Uzbekistan is blocked.

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Human Rights Organization Mazlum (http://torture-uzb.narod.ru)

Human Rights Organization Mazlum (The Oppressed) web site bears a caption "Torture - shame of the XXI century". The web site posts extensive information on tortures in Uzbekistan - reports of victims themselves and eyewitness testimony, reports compiled by international human rights organizations. International documents on human rights are available.

Access to it in Uzbekistan blocked, the web site is not updated regularly enough.

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Amnesty International (http://www.amnesty.org.ru)

Web site of Amnesty International that defines its own activities in the following manner, "Amnesty International promotes basic human rights: freedom of expression, freedom from torture and mistreatment, right to a just trial, and others. Amnesty International fights discrimination, domestic violence, capital punishment, "disappearances", reprisals, and impunity."

Materials of the web site are available in the Russian language. Access to the web site in Uzbekistan is blocked.

***

Freedom House (http://www.freedomhouse.org)

This is a web site of an independent organization promoting freedom and democracy worldwide. The web site posts materials on human rights abuses, in Uzbekistan too. Materials of the web site access to which is closed in Uzbekistan are available in English.

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International League for Human Rights (http://www.ilhr.org)

Its materials posted in the English language, the web site concentrates on human rights. The web site regularly posts articles on the state of affairs in Central Asia, Uzbekistan included. Access to it in Uzbekistan itself is blocked.

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Memorial (http://www.memo.ru)

Web site of the Russian human rights center Memorial, it posts information on human rights abuses - in Central Asia and Uzbekistan among other regions. It was the first web site to publish an incomplete list of victims of the events in Andijan in May 2005. Special attention is paid to extradition of refugees and political immigrants from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine to Uzbekistan. Access to the web site in Uzbekistan is blocked.

Web sites of Uzbek opposition

Moslem Uzbekistan (http://www.muslimuzbekistan.com/rus)

Web site of religious opposition, it is dedicated to Islam in Uzbekistan (sections include Islam, Downtrodden Moslem Women). Some articles posted on the web site are analyses and human rights news. Numerous photos from Andijan in May 2005 are available. Materials of the web site unavailable in Uzbekistan are posted in four languages - Russia, English, Arab, and Uzbek.

This is how founders of the web site define its purpose, "Moslem Uzbekistan condemns state monopoly in the sphere of the media and offers its own contribution to the cause of freedom of the media. The web site exposes genocide practiced by the authoritarian, terrorist regime... Moslem Uzbekistan highlights the situation Moslems in Uzbekistan have found themselves in, harassed and prosecuted for their faith. It reports episodes of human rights abuses and crimes against Moslems in the region, exposes the schemes of enemies of Allah, and calls for peaceful struggle against tyrants..."

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Birlik (http://www.birlik.net)

Web site of the Movement Birlik or Unity, it posts materials in the Uzbek, Russian, English, and Turkish languages. The web site describes Birlik's history and gives an account of its appeals to political leaders (George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin) and international structures (OSCE, US Helsinki Commission). Statements on a broad spectrum of issues (from the Russian-Georgian conflict to calls for an impartial investigation of the events in Andijan) are available. Access to the web site in Uzbekistan is blocked.

Titles include Andijan Revolt: Chronicle (Eyewitness Account), Andijani Lessons And Idea Of Unification of Opposition, Attempt on President or Much Ado About Nothing.

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Harakat (http://www.harakat.net)

Harakat stands for Movement. This is a web site of Democratic Party Birlik leader Abdurahim Pulat who lives in the United States. It defines itself as an "independent scientific, political, economic, and human rights journal published twice a month." Contents of the web site access to which in Uzbekistan is blocked are available in Russian and Uzbek.

Examples of titles on the web site include Can Muhammad Salih Run For President Of Uzbekistan From Sweden?, Rebellion Of Akromijans or Democratic Forces, Birlik: Back In Business.

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Erk (http://www.uzbekistanerk.org)

A web site of Erk or Freedom, it offers materials in four languages (Russian, Uzbek, English, and Turkish). Access to it in Uzbekistan is blocked.

Examples of titles - Speech Of Craig Murray, Ex-British Ambassador To Uzbekistan, Writer And Prisoner Mamadali Mahmudov Is 66, Why Would Priests Embrace Islam?, Unrespectable Deputies, Dictator's Another Treacherous Move.

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Erkinyurt (http://www.erkinyurt.org)

Erkinyurt or Free Territory is another Erk web site, with similar materials available in the same four languages. It is blocked in Uzbekistan.

Titles include President Islam Karimov's Friends And Foes, People's Right To Elect President In 2007, Evolution Of Weak-Willed West's Policy, UN Urges Uzbekistan To Abolish Torture.

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Uzbekinfo (http://www.uzbekinfo.org)

Another Erk web site, it presents itself as an "Independent Center of Information and Analysis". Updated every several days, the web site offers materials in the Russian and Uzbek languages. Access to the web site in Uzbekistan is blocked.

Examples of titles include Human Rights Activist Umida Niyazova Arrested In Tashkent Airport, Department Erk Statement, On Reforms In Agriculture, Erk In Sweden Now.

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Muhammad Salih's web site (http://www.muhammadsalih.info)

Personal web site of Democratic Party Erk leader Muhammad Salih (Salaj Madaminov) who lives in Norway. Erk program and charter are available here along with materials on Uzbekistan and its relations with other countries and publications on the Central Asian in general. The materials are posted in four languages - Uzbek, English, Russian, and Turkish.

Materials of the web site which is not available in Uzbekistan include the titles Putin Conquers Asian Khans Again, How Constitutional Court Violates Constitution, Why Karimov Fears Turkey, and Contours Of Operation Successor In Uzbekistan.

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Stop Dictator Karimov (http://www.stopdictatorkarimov.com)

Established by Uzbek immigrant Hazratkul Hudoiberdy who lives in Sweden, the web site bears a caption "Dedicated to struggle with Islam Karimov's dictatorship in Uzbekistan and similar regimes elsewhere".

The web site is fairly interesting since it is not restricted to Uzbekistan alone. It posts materials on what is happening in other countries as well - assassinations of Litvinenko and Politkovskaya, contacts between dictatorships, and other suchlike issues on the post-Soviet territory. The author condemns the United States for the war in Iraq and CIA secret prisons, Israel for threats to Iran and mistreatment of the Palestinians, Putin for suppression of democracy and support of odious dictatorships.

Typical titles include Dictator Karimov's Brutality Following OSCE Visit, Uzbek Prosecutors Recall Humanism, Sadist Karimov And His Gang, Spring Draft Into Prisons Under Way.

Rarity of its own materials is one of the shortcomings of the web site. On the other hand, it never hesitates to comment on articles and publications by others. The author is clearly anti-Semitic (one of the articles posted on the web site attribute Islam Karimov's crimes to the fact that he is really a Jew by name of Izhak Mirzokandov). All the same, a lot of interesting and helpful materials may be found here. The web site is not available in Uzbekistan itself. Its materials are presented in Russian, Uzbek, English, and Swedish.

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Congress of Democratic Forces of Uzbekistan (http://www.uzbekcongress.org)

Web site of Congress of Democratic Forces of Uzbekistan chaired by Jahongir Mamatov who lives in the United States. Judging by the web site, "Congress of Democratic Forces of Uzbekistan is an international organization that unites hundreds of activists and thousands of supporters in Uzbekistan itself, a broad following in the United States and Europe and that is fighting for a free and democratic Uzbekistan against the tyranny."

Content of the web site access to which is blocked in Uzbekistan is available in the English, Uzbek, and Russian languages.

Examples of titles include On Umarov's Trial And Lawyer Krasolovsky, Punitive Psychiatry, Shedding Feudalism, Secrets Of Islam Karimov's Empire, Gunlara's Black Phantasm.

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Turonzamin (http://uzbekcongress.wordpress.com)

Turonzamin stands for Land of Turan, this is a web site (or rather a blog) of the Congress of Democratic Forces of Uzbekistan. Materials available in several languages including Russian are updated practically every day. Access to the web site in Uzbekistan is blocked.

Titles include What Refugees' Return Promise, President's Term Of Office Expires On January 21, 2007, Absence Of Freedom Of Expression And Situation In Uzbekistan, Karimov And Madaminov: Siamese Twins.

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Jahongir Mamatov's wen site (http://www.jahongir.org)

Personal web site of Mamatov, chairman of the oppositionist Congress of Democratic Forces of Uzbekistan. Materials here are available in the Russian, Uzbek, English, and Turkish languages. Access to the web site in Uzbekistan is blocked.

Examples of titled - When Is Karimov's Regime To Be Toppled?, Uzbekistan: A Country Where Journalism Equals Terrorism, Who Bears Down On Freedom Of Expression On RL? and Bon Appetit, Cannibals!

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Isyonkor (http://www.isyonkor.ucoz.ru)

Web site Isyonkor or Rebel posts materials on the state of affairs in Uzbekistan and its relations with other countries, EU sanctions, opposition, harassment of human rights activists, and so on. Publications available only in the Uzbek language are updated every several days. Access to the web site in Uzbekistan is blocked.

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Sunshine Coalition (http://sunshineuzbekistan.org)

Sunshine Coalition leader Sanjar Umarov was tried and sentenced to imprisonment for financial swindles last year. The web site posts materials in the English, Russian, and Uzbek languages - statements of Sunshine Coalition leaders and human rights activists, reports on pickets and protest actions, criticism of the political and economic system of Uzbekistan. The web site access to which in Uzbekistan is blocked includes a section where Sunshine Coalition outlines its suggestions on urgently needed reforms.

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Uzbek-people.narod.ru (http://www.uzbek-people.narod.ru)

Web site of the opposition established in 2003 by Yevgeny Diakonov, a political immigrant living in Norway. "We will post any information on crimes committed by the Uzbek regime" is the caption that pretty much summarizes the content.

Also available are materials on other countries of the Central Asian region, refugees and political immigrants in Europe, Russia, and America, protest actions, reprisals against enemies of the regimes, arrests, harassment. Some of these materials are fairly interesting.

Examples of titles - Islam Karimov's Trump Card, Kazakh Secret Services Conceal Their Involvement In Abductions, Daughters And Chechen Hotheads, Terror During Ramadan. Person Missing, Karimov Accused, Ex-Prisoners' Stories - make it plain exactly why access to it in Uzbekistan is closed.

Shortcomings of the web site - difficult to download, infrequent updates, and mistakes. Photos of dictators on the front page with the caption "Shame of the XXI century" include a photo of Kim Jong-Il with the inscription that he is Kim Jeng-Lee, and one of Syrian President Bashir al Asad who is called President of Egypt Muamar al Qaddafi.

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Official web sites

Jahon news agency (http://jahon.mfa.uz)

Jahon news agency of the Uzbek Foreign Ministry is number one mouthpiece of the authorities. Publications are available in Russian, Uzbek, and English. The web site covers meetings of the parliament, posts Karimov's speeches, news laws, decrees, and resolutions. All the rest is undisguised propaganda.

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UzA news agency (http://www.uza.uz)

National news agency of Uzbekistan established to promote Islam Karimov's successes and accomplishments. All materials of the web site are censored. They are available in the Russian, Uzbek, and English languages.

All the same, the web site is quite helpful because it is the first to report the president's forthcoming visits and meetings, foreign delegations' visits, staff shuffles in the government, replacements of regional leaders, texts of new laws, decrees, and resolutions.

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UzReport (http://www.uzreport.com)

Dedicated to purely economic information, the web site posts materials in three languages - English, Russian, and Uzbek. Some of the materials are located in closed sections. The web site posts information on banks, stock exchanges, insurance companies, major deals and contracts, securities market, contests and auctions in Uzbekistan, international exhibitions, jobs, hard currency exchange rates, and so on. Also available are fairly interesting news on privatization and appearance of new enterprises, interest rates, and so on. The web site purports to be an asset of the united editorial office of Biznes-Vestnik Vostoka or BVV Business Report.

Unfortunately, web site owners never even question economic data released by the authorities even though they know all too well that it does not really have anything to do with the actual state of affairs.

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Press-uz-info (http://www.press-uz.info)

This is probably the worst odious web site that publishes articles by anonymous persons or suchlike that condemn Uzbek dissenters, human rights activists, independent journalists, and (whenever necessary) neighbor countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. The web site posts articles by tame political scientists who hail the authorities' campaign against foreign non-governmental organizations. It posts articles by unidentified "experts" who denounce foreign reports accusing the Uzbek leadership of corruption, human rights abuses, suppression of the freedom of speech and democracy, and harassment for faith. In short, this is the web site the authorities arranged in late 2005 to smear critics of the regime. Press-uz-info authors either write under pseudonyms never even mention their names.

Some news worthy attention are also posted - or the web site will remain absolutely neglected. Since web site correspondents are privy to all sorts of statistics and comments from state structures (that is more than what independent journalists may hope for), they reveal something truly interesting every now and then - say, economic information (deals, contracts, etc.).

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Gazeta.Uz (http://www.gzt.uz)

This is a poor copy of Press-uz-info - with practically no materials of its own. Particularly odious materials from Press-uz-info remain in plain sight here days after their removal from Press-uz-info itself. Visits to the web site are highly infrequent. Chances to find something interesting are really slim.

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Central Asian Review (http://www.c-asia.org)

Another Press-uz-info clone. Judging by the caption, "The project compiles digests of Central Asian news and offers its readers the more interesting analytical articles in the spheres of politics, security, economy, and development of society in countries of the region."

Aspiring for the status of analytical, the web site in question is clearly anti-Kazakh and anti-Tajik. Its own materials are quite rare. In the meantime, the web site never misses a chance to post an article condemning Uzbek human rights activists, independent journalists, opposition leaders, and foreign critics of the regime.

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Turkiston-press (http://turkiston-press.uz)

Turkeston-press non-governmental news agency specializes in economic information on deals, deliveries, gas prices, contracts, and so on. The news agency apparently lacks the courage to touch upon other serious subjects and concentrates on culture - exhibitions, first runs, etc.

The web site includes a list (rather lengthy) of founders and informs the visitor that this is the first non-governmental news agency in Uzbekistan "established in September 1998".

The news agency claims to be working for all subscribers (i.e. media outlets) regardless of their form of ownership and political views as well as for diplomatic and foreign missions. Unfortunately, the web site was last updated in November 2006.

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Uzbekistan Today (http://www.ut.uz)

This moderately propagandistic Internet weekly was established last autumn. Use of color is probably its own attractive feature. Materials are available in Russian and English. The web site does post interesting information every now and then - on economic matters, exhibitions, first runs, and so on.

News of Uzbekistan (http://www.novostiuzbekistana.st.uz)

Web site of the weekly Novosti Uzbekistana, a newspaper purporting to be a business edition. Absolutely loyal to the regime, it does feature interesting stories every now and then - mostly concerning the economic sphere.

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Polit.Uz (http://www.polit.uz)

Web site of the Regional Politics Foundation (established within the framework of the National Security Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan), it reports that "The Regional Politics Foundation carries out monitoring and systematic analysis of modern tendencies and geopolitical transformations in Central Asia, and offers evaluations and forecasts of strategic interests of Uzbekistan."

The Foundation in question is actually a propagandistic tool of the Karimovs. Hence the gist of all materials of the web site: whatever Karimov does is good and wise. The web site posts elaborations by some political scientists on how every country must travel its own road to democracy and how European standards do not apply to Uzbekistan because of that (an implication that Uzbekistan's road to democracy should take another century or two). Foundation experts regularly come up with the explanations of why Uzbek mission of this or that foreign non-governmental organization must be closed. Statements like that usually appear as soon as the republican Justice Ministry launches a campaign to close some mission whose activities the regime views as "subversive". The web site regularly features materials that condemn the human rights community or international organizations putting Uzbekistan on bottom lines of the ratings of corruption, human rights abuses, economic development, freedom of expression, and so on.

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These are the 50 best known web sites on Uzbekistan.