19 february 2020

Central Asia news

Uzbekistan: Another journalist is expecting the trial

15.09.2010 14:24 msk

Alexey Volosevich

Human Rights Uzbekistan

Photo: Malik Boboev. Photo © Ferghana.Ru

The government of Uzbekistan is going to judge Abdumalik Boboev, another independent journalist and correspondent of Voice of America. He is incriminated the following charges under Uzbek Criminal Code: slander, insult, illegal leaving abroad and illegal entrance to the Republic of Uzbekistan as well as Preparation and dissemination of information, threatening the public safety and order.

The charges assume that the crime was committed "with the use of financial or other material assistance, received from religious organizations as well as from foreign states, organizations and citizens". Obviously, this implies the Voice of America radio station, financed by the government of USA. The journalist may be sentenced to 5-8 years of jail.

41 year old Abdumalik Boboev has been working for Voice of America since 2006. He does not have official accreditation because he never got a response from Uzbek Foreign Ministry on his several applications.

It has to be mentioned that cooperation with foreign media, not having official accreditation in Uzbekistan, is considered by local authorities as serious violation of law in spite of current legislation of the republic and all international agreements, signed by Uzbekistan in this area.

In January of 2010 Abdumalik Boboev and five other independent journalists were invited to Tashkent prosecutor’s office for explanation of their professional occupation that disturbs the government. (The details are available at Uzbek special services collect the records about independent journalists).

The following story took place before the journalists was accused of committing the number of crimes. In January of 2010 Abdumalik Boboev visited Kazakhstan. Upon his return back home for some reason the Uzbek border guards did not put the stamp in his passport, verifying his return. Boboev learned about this only in May, when he left for Kazakhstan again. In Mayskiy village (near the check point) when decided to take picture of the group of Uzbek migrants the journalist was detained by Uzbek border guards. During the interrogation the authorities found out Abdumalik Boboev did not have the right stamp in his passport. After writing explanatory statement the journalist was taken to interior affairs office of Kibray district, the Tashkent Oblast, where he was penalized for 40 thousand sum ($18) for taking the picture in the border area without authorization (it has to be mentioned that the journalists, not working for official mass media, do not need such authorization at all).

Malik Boboev
Malik Boboev

Later on the journalist was called to Tashkent city prosecutor’s office where the investigator took the copy of his passport. At the same month, Abdumalik Boboev took his passport to the Passport Office for exchange because he was going to attend the conference abroad. Some time later the Passport Office representative informed Boboev that his passport was delivered to the prosecutor’s office upon request.

The investigators filed the criminal case against the independent journalist due to "illegal crossing of the border" where the penalty may vary from 200-400 minimum salaries fine to 3-5 years of imprisonment. Obviously, the authorities decided to put an end to this case and exhibited three other charges against Abdumalik Boboev, not related to crossing of Uzbek-Kazakh border, but directly linked to his professional occupation.

The charges on slander, insult as well as dissemination of information, threatening public safety and order – i.e. the articles – are "traditionally" based on "the expert conclusion" of so-called Center for mass communications monitoring under the Uzbek Agency for communication and infromatization.

It is worth reminding that the same mechanism was employed in order to bring Umida Akhmedova (photographer and film maker) and Vladimir Berezovskiy (Russian journalist and the editor of Vesti.uz website) to trial. Therefore, we are talking about successfully operating universal technology for rapid elimination of independent figures.

The investigation of criminal case is already completed. On September 13 the Tashkent city proesecutor’s office brought in an indictment and Boboev signed the recognizance not to leave. On September 14 he was allowed to read the indictment text and "the expert conclusion" of Center for mass communications monitoring. Investigator Khusan Asanov refused to provide the copies of these documents, referring to "secrecy". The date of the proceedings will be announced soon.

Alexey Volosevich