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News Analysis - EurasiaNetorg - Central Asia, Caucasus News

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News Analysis - EurasiaNetorg - Central Asia, Caucasus News ...

     Uzbekistan News Brief Uzbekistan News Brief

     Issue 14 (2009)

    June 1-7, 2009

    Contents

    PART 1: NEWS ANALYSIS .................................................................................................................................. 2 PART 2: NEWS DIGEST ....................................................................................................................................... 4 1. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS................................................................................................................. 4

    a. Karimov Outlines Impending Crackdown on Cross-Border Trade and Travel.............................................. 4

    b. Uzbek Border Still Locked Down After Andijan Violence ........................................................................... 4

    c. Uzbek and Kyrgyz Border Guards Capture Each Other ................................................................................ 5

    d. U.S. Ambassador Norland Promises to Increase Cooperation with Tashkent ............................................... 5

    e. “Progressive” Russian-Uzbek Migrant Labor Agreement Needs Enforcement: NGO ................................. 6

    f. Turkmen, Uzbek Eyes Stray Towards Brussels ............................................................................................. 6

    2. DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS ..................................................................................................................... 7

    a. Karimov Orders "Open and Fair" Trial for Perpetrators of Andijan Attacks ................................................. 7

    b. Karimov Holds Urgent Meetings with Officials in Andijan ........................................................................ 8

    c. President Karimov Visits Andijan ................................................................................................................. 8

    d. The Great Wall: Government of Uzbekistan to Take Total Control Over Internet....................................... 9

    e. Uzbek Experts’ Group Launches Monthly Human Rights Digest; Recounts Torture Cases ......................... 9

    3. ECONOMIC NEWS ....................................................................................................................................... 10

    a. GM Uzbekistan's Uncertain Future Amid Talk of a Takeover .................................................................... 10

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    Part 1: News Analysis

    More than a week after several explosions rocked towns in the Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan, the Uzbek authorities are not providing any more information about attackers or their possible motivations, and are keeping border areas and information channels locked down. Ambassador Richard Norland, U.S. envoy to Uzbekistan, met with President Islam Karimov June 2 to discuss regional security and trade, the website 12.uz reported. Uzbekistan is now helping the Afghan war effort by agreeing to ferry non-lethal materials across its territory into Afghanistan, and is not likely to get many public or pressing inquiries about the latest Andijan events from Coalition members.

    President Karimov returned from a trip to Brazil and Spain and immediately travelled to Andijan and Khanabad, the sites where policemen were killed and bystanders injured in bomb attacks May 26. The state press did not investigate the events, and independent media reported that local officials had even shut off mobile and land-line telephone services as part of an information blockade. Many parks and public establishments were reportedly closed. Appearing on state television after the trip, Karimov described the policeman who died in Andijan as a young father of five. The Uzbek leader himself took personal responsibility for the incidents, vowing to find "the sponsors of those who were involved in this," and drawing a parallel between the recent attacks and the 2005 events in Andijan, Uzbek First Channel, the state broadcaster, quoted him as saying.

    While no suspects have yet been apprehended, the president is already ostentatiously calling for an "open and fair trial" for those who instigated the violence, calling on the prosecutor general to ensure "conditions for broad trial coverage in both foreign and local media," Uzbek news outlets reported, although journalists attempting to make any independent investigation of the events will likely be harshly discouraged -- if not endangered.

    Tight border controls remain in place on Uzbekistan's eastern frontier, although Kyrgyzstan has eased its border regimen, Kyrgyzstan’s AKI-press reported. Uzbekistan plans to make a 50-meter buffer zone

    along the border and will forcibly relocate some 180 households in the area, said AKI-press. People in the town of Chek, for example, which straddles both sides of the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border, are finding themselves already cut off from relatives. In a televised appearance, President Karimov said such villagers should not expect to be allowed to visit their family so frequently, and urged neighbors to report on each other to make the job of the security services easier. He urged Uzbeks to stop crossing into Kyrgyzstan to go marketing, and continued to claim that the perpetrators of the attacks came from Kyrgyz territory, a charge that Bishkek vociferously denies.

    With border traffic virtually halted and no travelers to arrest, Uzbek and Kyrgyz border control forces began capturing each other last week. Uzbek border guards caught three Kyrgyz soldiers near the entrance to an Uzbek enclave and later released them, apparently in retaliation for Kyrgyz guards' detention and release of two Uzbek soldiers earlier in the day, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Kyrgyz Service reported.

    A former police officer in Uzbekistan once involved in counter-insurgency work said that security services and police have long been waging a major operation against militants, and that the explosions in Khanabad and Andijan were retaliatory from these insurgents, said Reporting Central Asia. Tashpulat Yoldashev, an Uzbek political analyst now living abroad, said a number of previous attacks ascribed to the IMU bore indications that the Uzbek security forces were involved in them.

    On June 4, the Russian State Duma ratified a bilateral agreement between Russia and Uzbekistan on labor and the protection of migrant laborers. This could be a step forward in improving the lot of poorly-paid and mistreated Uzbek workers in Russia, if the norms are enforced, the Rapid Response Group (RRG) said in an analysis of the new document. According to a May 2009 statement from the Russian Federal Migration Service, there are now at least two million Uzbeks working in Russia, although many have been forced to return home as work opportunities diminish as a result of the global economic crisis. On paper at least, the agreement specifies that employers must provide medical services and allow migrants to invite their families to live with them, and sets the minimum age for workers at 18 to prevent trafficking of children. The pact even establishes the right to have the body of any migrant who dies returned to his family, along with his earnings and belongings, a daunting task for relatives, and

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sadly, a frequent one; human rights group reported that 47 migrants had died while working abroad

    from just the Khorezm region from 2005-2007. Yet as the RRG noted, unless migrants themselves are

    willing to go through official channels to register their employment, and declare 30-40%of their wages to

    the Russian state’s tax authorities, they cannot avail themselves of the new protections.

The Uzbek government is moving to take further control of the Internet, Daniil Kislov, editor-in-chief of

    the independent website ferghana.ru warned in an editorial June 5. Uzbek officials are putting out

    justifications for new restrictions they are considering, selectively choosing parts of laws in Israel and

    Korea that provide for filtering of Internet sites or authentication of users' identities. Until now, the Uzbek

    National Security Service has unofficially blocked opposition or independent news sites like ferghana.ru,

    but has not operated under a formal law. Articles in the state-run media increasingly call for government

    takeover of the web to prevent "unacceptable" material from reaching the public.

In this context, the work of independent groups to gather and analyze news becomes even more

    important. This week, the Expert Working Group, an Uzbek NGO network of groups covering law and

    public interest issues launched a monthly e-mailed newsletter in English based on Uzbek and Russian

    sources. The first issue contains news of the government's activities related to law, with some

    alternative commentary, as well as a digest of numerous cases of torture documented by groups inside

    Uzbekistan, including accounts of injuries and deaths in custody.

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    Part 2: News Digest

1. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

    a. Karimov Outlines Impending Crackdown on Cross-Border Trade and Travel

    In a sign of a hardening security stance in the Fergana Valley, President Islam Karimov says Uzbek nationals with relatives in neighboring Kyrgyzstan should not expect to be allowed to visit them freely. He also called on neighbors to snitch on each other to make the work of the security services easier.

    In a special television broadcast covering his May 31 visit to Andijan and Khanabad, Karimov said the days of people crossing the border "hither and thither" are over. "Families that have relatives [in Kyrgyzstan] may want to visit them once every two or three months, but others should be told: ’This is the state border. It did not exist before. But now the times have changed, we have our own laws, they have their own. We are not stationed here to allow [people] to go hither and thither. We work for the state.’"

    He also urged residents to shop in Uzbekistan and not cross to large markets, such as Kara-Suu and Osh in Kyrgyzstan. "[Why is it] that we cross the border every day? If it were peaceful there [in Kyrgyzstan] and if they respected us [maybe it would be acceptable]. But the incidents which happened on May 26 were organized by people who came from there. ? There would be no need for the border if there were a cloudless sky and peace there. But unfortunately we have to protect ourselves," Karimov stressed.

    Kyrgyz officials have adamantly denied that the suspects responsible for violent acts in Andijan and Khanabad used Kyrgyzstan as a base for carrying out their plans

    Source: eurasianet.org/06/02/09 Full version: http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/news/articles/eav060209c.shtml

    b. Uzbek Border Still Locked Down After Andijan Violence

Synopsis: Tight border controls remain in place on Uzbekistan's eastern border following a series of

    violent incidents in Andijan May 25-26, Reporting Central Asia reported. Only a few checkpoints are open, mainly to let Uzbek nations return home, AKI-press of Kyrgyzstan reported. Kyrgyz citizens, even diplomats, are being allowed to cross only if they can prove their business is urgent.

    The Uzbek government plans to create a 50-meter buffer zone along the border near Andijan, and already informed people in 180 households that they will have to move, AKI-press reported. The Kyrgyz government denies Uzbek claims that the attackers came from Kyrgyzstan, and have restored their border regimen to normal. Following a visit to Andijan May 31, President Karimov hinted that foreign support was involved in the attacks and drew an explicit connection with the 2005 events in Andijan when government troops fired on a crowd of demonstrators, killing several hundred.

    There has been wide speculation about the perpetrators but no identities confirmed; some independent commentators say they believe the attacks were more likely to have been set up by the Uzbek security forces than actual Islamic militants. A former police officer in Uzbekistan once involved in counter-insurgency work said that security services and police have long been waging a major operation against militants, and the explosions in Khanabad and Andijan were retaliation from these insurgents, said RCA. Tashpulat Yoldashev, an Uzbek political analyst now living abroad, said a number of previous attacks ascribed to the IMU bore indications that the Uzbek security forces were involved in them.

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While armored personnel carriers brought out in response to the explosions were removed from the

    streets on May 28, traffic police presence has been increased and vehicles entering Andijan are being

    checked, AKI-press noted.

The border crackdown has impacted communities on both sides of the border, unable to trade in

    Chinese-made consumer goods from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbek foodstuffs, causing prices to rise in local

    markets.

     Source: Institute for War and Peace Reporting/Reporting Central Asia (RCA)/06/07/09. Synopsis by OSI Central Eurasia Project

    Full version: http://www.iwpr.net/?p=rca&s=f&o=352974&apc_state=henh

c. Uzbek and Kyrgyz Border Guards Capture Each Other

Uzbek border guards captured and later released three Kyrgyz soldiers at the entrance to an Uzbek

    enclave, apparently in retaliation for Kyrgyz guards’ detention and release of two Uzbek soldiers earlier

    in the day, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Officials at Kyrgyzstan's Kadamjay District Police Department told RFE/RL that the incidents took place

    on June 2 at the Vuadil border crossing near Uzbekistan's Sokh exclave -- a small tract of Uzbek

    territory within Kyrgyzstan. The officials said the Uzbek soldiers were initially detained for violating

    Kyrgyz laws.

Most of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border was closed last week after an armed group attacked police stations in

    the Uzbek cities of Khanabad and Andijan.

Uzbek officials later charged that the armed group entered Uzbekistan from Kyrgyzstan, a charge that

    Kyrgyz officials denied. Tensions have been high since the incident.

On June 4, Kyrgyz Border Guard Service officials told RFE/RL that all checkpoints along the Kyrgyz-

    Uzbek border had resumed their regular operations.

    Source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/06/04/09. Copyright (c) 2009. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

    Full version: http://www.rferl.org/content/Uzbek_Kyrgyz_Border_Guards_Capture_Each_Other/1746671.html

d. U.S. Ambassador Norland Promises to Increase Cooperation with Tashkent

Source: eurasianet.org/06/04/09

    Full version: http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/news/articles/eav060409a.shtml

Washington’s ambassador to Uzbekistan, Richard Norland, is promising to step-up cooperation with

    Uzbekistan.

According to news site 12.uz, Norland and President Islam Karimov discussed regional security, trade

    and economic links during a meeting in Karimov’s official residence on June 3. "This meeting is a good

    opportunity to exchange views on bilateral and multilateral cooperation of mutual interest," Karimov is

    quoted as saying.

Uzbekistan is playing a leading role in the recently developed Northern Distribution Network ferrying

    non-military goods from northern Europe to troops in Afghanistan. In April, Navoi airport opened as a

    major transport hub operated commercially by Korean Air. The hub is already helping to ferry non-

    military supplies to coalition forces in Afghanistan, Karimov has revealed.

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     “Progressive” Russian-Uzbek Migrant Labor Agreement Needs Enforcement: NGO e.

    Synopsis: On June 4, the Russian State Duma ratified a bilateral agreement between Russia and

    Uzbekistan on labor activity and protection of labor migrants, originally signed in Tashkent on July 2007. The bilateral agreement could be a step forward in advancing migrant labor if implemented, the Rapid Response Group (RPG) commented in an analysis of the new measure. Currently, some 2 million Uzbeks are said to work in Russia, according to a May 2009 report by the Russian Federal Migration Service.

    For the first time, new types of migrant laborers' rights are acknowledged, for example, setting the minimum age as 18 in an effort to prevent trafficking of children, and establishing the right to have the body of any migrant who dies returned to his family, along with his earnings and private property, a task which has been immensely difficult for relatives.

    The agreement also specifies that employers must provide medical services for migrants and enable them to invite their family members to live with them, if the migrants have sufficient financial capacity and living space.

    Other "progressive" aspects of the agreement include provisions invoking guarantees against discrimination and a requirement that labor migrants must receive fair remuneration for their work, no less than citizens of the receiving country in equivalent jobs with equivalent qualifications.

    Yet the improved norms will be worthless if local officials fail to implement them, says RRG. And the enforcement of the law hinges on Uzbek migrants themselves using official channels to register for work. Some 75 percent or more workers resist because the Russian government takes between 30-40 percent out of reported earnings. Without a reduction of this taxation, and better notification of rights as well as streamlined placement services, migrants will not take advantage of the protection the new agreement offers, says RRG. Russian authorities are advised to cooperate more with the Uzbek diaspora in Russia, which helps find jobs and protects their fellow Uzbeks from police abuse. For their part, the various geographically-denoted communities of Uzbeks in Russia are advised to work to adapt migrants more to the broader society.

    The report also urges a change in attitude on the part of the Uzbek government, from one of treating migrant laborers as marginals unable to work in the national economy, or merely perpetrators or victims in trafficking schemes, to people who provide an important source of revenue to their cash-strapped homeland and relieve the burden on their government to provide jobs.

Source: Rapid Response Group report in English via email. Synopsis by OSI Central Eurasian Project.

    Full version: http://rrguz.org/ (Russian original. See “Latest Reports”).

f. Turkmen, Uzbek Eyes Stray Towards Brussels

Excerpt: [Passages omitted: Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov met with European Union

    officials last week in Brussels, an overture unimaginable a few years ago. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have been the most resistant of the Central Asian states to Western influence, but they are now showing interest.]

    Federico Bordonaro, a senior analyst at the Italy-based analysis group equilibri.net, says that Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, having watched the approach of their neighbors, appear to be sold on the advantages of a multivector energy-export policy. Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan were the first countries to take this approach, and the two Caspian littoral states are now "both participants in this new energy game in the South Caucasus and Central Asian regions," Bordonaro notes. He says that "the benefits from this multivector foreign policy are that actually these countries have much of their prosperity coming from the sale of oil and gas and the more they can diversify their export routes the better it is for them."

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    Turkmenistan's and Uzbekistan's poor human rights records have long posed hurdles to interacting with the West. The two countries regularly attract criticism from Western governments and rights groups, more so than neighbors Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. In the past, Ashgabat and Tashkent have made clear that such issues are not anyone else's business. But as both countries try to break the dominance Russia holds over their energy (largely gas) export routes, they appear to be opening up.

    "I think that Turkmen, the Uzbeks, and the other Central Asians, they don't want Russia to play too big a role in their energy markets because these have political implications and political influence inside their countries, they don't want to be turned into satellites once again by Russia," Bordonaro says. "Turkmen and Uzbeks have now seized the opportunity to challenge the Russian hegemony in their own markets and they are reaching out to the Europeans."

    [Passages omitted: Turkmenistan has been most dependent on Russian pipelines to export its gas, but is building a new pipeline backed by China, and has now made an agreement with the German energy major RWE.]

    While just last November Uzbek President Islam Karimov said that Russia was meeting all of Uzbekistan's gas export needs, last month calls were made for Italy and Spain to invest in Uzbek energy projects. This was a rare overture indeed, seeing that Tashkent has allowed only companies from Russia and East Asia to participate in energy projects on its territory for the last half-decade.

    [Passages omitted: In January, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan sent representatives to an international conference in Budapest on the EU-backed Nabucco project; Uzbekistan sent representatives to an EU summit in Prague in May on the south corridor. Although Russia's Gazprom has enjoyed a monopoly over Central Asian gas export and had promised to pay "European prices" to prevent Europe from offering a better deal, now prices have fallen. Gazprom's imports from Turkmenistan have also been halted since the April 9 Turkmen gas line explosion and the ensuing disputes about compensation and prices.]

    As Bordonaro puts it, "Now it seems that the Turkmen and the Uzbeks are reminding the West that the deals are possible and that they don't want to be monopolized by the Russians and Gazprom

    Source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/06/04/09. Copyright (c) 2009. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the

    permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. Excerpt by OSI Central Eurasia Project

    Full version: http://www.rferl.org/content/Turkmen_Uzbek_Eyes_Stray_Toward_Brussels/1746840.html

2. DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS

a. Karimov Orders "Open and Fair" Trial for Perpetrators of Andijan Attacks

    Talk about putting the cart before the horse; there may not be any suspects in custody yet, but that fact isn’t stopping President Islam Karimov from instructing his Prosecutor General to prepare for "an open

    and fair trial" for those who end up facing charges for instigating violence in the Fergana Valley on May 26.

    Prosecutor General Rashid Kadyrov is also under orders to ensure the "the creation of conditions for broad trial coverage in both local and foreign media," Uzbek news outlets report June 4.

    No arrests have been made so far in the investigation into the attacks on a police station and border post in Khanabad, or the suicide bombing in Andijan city. Karimov and other Uzbek officials have claimed the attacks originated Kyrgyzstan. Bishkek has vehemently denied the allegation.

    Source: eurasianet.org/06/04/09 Full version: http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/news/articles/eav060409b.shtml

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b. Karimov Holds Urgent Meetings with Officials in Andijan

President Islam Karimov says he feels personally responsible for the bloody events in the Fergana

    Valley on May 26. Speaking after a tour of Andijan and the border town of Khanabad, scene of an

    extended shoot-out, the Uzbek president said the attacks were "unacceptable."

"The most regrettable thing is that a police officer, captain, a young man, who is a father of five children

    died [in Andijan]. It is a very regrettable incident, which is unexpected from every aspect. [. . .] However, we are also responsible. I believe that I am also personally responsible for his sudden death. It is

    unacceptable, because these young people should live," Uzbek Television First Channel quoted the

    president as saying on May 31.

"Unfortunately, there are people who still remember the 2005 events and who want to repeat them.

    Therefore, an investigation, search and other measures have been started to find out the reason [for

    the May 26 attacks]," Karimov continued. "I strongly believe that we will surely put everything in place.

    We will find the sponsors of those who were involved in this."

According to the Uznews.net website, Andijan city was subjected to a series of explosions on May 26,

    culminating in a suicide attack in the afternoon. Security in the region remains on high alert,

    communications are still blocked and Tashkent is also experiencing a "latent state of emergency,"

    according to a report posted on the opposition website June 1.

Source: eurasianet.org/06/01/09.

    Full version: http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/news/articles/eav060109a.shtml

c. President Karimov Visits Andijan

Synopsis: On May 31, President Islam Karimov made a secret trip to Andijan for several hours, shortly

    after returning home from a trip abroad to Brazil and Spain, to inspect the sites of a series of explosions,

    set by unknown attackers, uznews.net reported

According to a local official who asked to remain anonymous, the president met with regional leaders

    and law-enforcers in Andijan and also travelled to Khanabad, on the border with Kyrgyzstan, where a

    police and security post was bombed. The Uzbek government continues to remain silent regarding

    details of the attacks and is blocking any informal news channels, even shutting off mobile phone and

    land-line service throughout the area, says uznews.net. The Prosecutor General's office has only

    reiterated that an unknown man had made a suicide bombing attack on Fitrat street, killing himself and

    a policeman and wounding several bystanders.

The president had no comment during his visit to Andijan, which remains in a situation amounting to an

    unannounced state of emergency. In Tashkent, parks, cultural facilities and other public spaces have

    been closed since the attacks.

Uzbekistan has given law-enforcement agencies of Kyrgyzstan sketches of two of the suspects in the

    Andijan explosions, and Russia's Foreign Ministry has confirmed that the attackers were from a group

    calling itself "Islamic Jihad," uznews.net reported. Kyrgyzstan denies its citizens were involved, and no

    confirmation of the origin or motives of the bombers has been provided.

Source: uznews.net/06/01/09. Synopsis and translation by OSI Central Eurasia Project.

    Full version: http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/news/articles/eav060109a.shtml

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     The Great Wall: Government of Uzbekistan to Take Total Control Over Internet d.

    Synopsis: The Uzbek government has long unofficially blocked the access of its citizens to independent

    media and opposition websites like ferghana.ru, using the National Security Service to monitor Internet service providers, but now there are indications that the authorities wish to formalize their control of the web and is preparing public opinion for this, Daniil Kislov, editor-in-chief of ferghana.ru commented in an article published on the independent news service's website June 5. To justify the government's increased control, Ulugbek Sultanov of the Uzbek Print and Information Agency has misleadingly invoked a recent Israeli law under which websites advocating violence, pornography, and gambling will be filtered although failing to mention that the law has been amended a number of times, filters will only be installed at the customer's request, with the default unlimited access, and a special committee of officials and civil society representatives will work to establish definitions for unacceptable content. Sultanov has also selectively noted South Korea's prohibition on pseudonymous articles and comments and mandatory user identification -- without noting that the rule applies only to sites with more than 100,000 unique users per day.

    Shukhrat Djabbarov, deputy chief editor of the state-sponsored newspaper Halk Suzi (People's Word) urged that all Internet sites be taken over to rid them of "unacceptable criticism," advocating a "Great Chinese Wall" type of program used by China to block access to opposition sites. Such measures have been proposed in the past by Mirzayusuf Rustambaev, a member of the Oliy Mazhlis (parliament) and chairman of the State Institute of Law, who has also proposed creating a list of websites that pose a threat to Uzbekistan's security and a government takeover of them, as well as adoption of a law on the control of information dissemination. Without the ability to discuss such policies freely, more restrictive laws are likely to be adopted, Kislov commented, with the filtering of independent web-sites legitimized.

    Source: ferghana.ru/06/05/09. Synopsis by OSI Central Eurasia Project. Full version: http://enews.ferghana.ru/article.php?id=2542

e. Uzbek Experts’ Group Launches Monthly Human Rights Digest; Recounts Torture Cases

    The Expert Working Group (EWG), a non-governmental, non-profit network of independent experts in Uzbekistan covering legal and public interest issues, has launched a monthly newsletter in English via e-mail which digests sources in the Uzbek and Russian languages on human rights issues.

    The first issue, dated May 2009, notes that the Office of the Prosecutor General has established a special group to investigate three violent incidents in Andijan May 25-26, but is also claiming that the situation is "stable and peaceful". Uzbekistan's Oliy Majlis (parliament) hosted a seminar on children's rights and international treaties, after a new law on children's rights was passed in Uzbekistan.

    The May issue digests a number of NGO reports on torture, including from the Rapid Response Group (RRG) and the Voice of Freedom. RRG reported that Nozim Mamadaliev, a Kyrgyz citizen, was detained on charges of illegal border crossing. Authorities failed to notify the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry or his relatives. On May 1, Mamadaliev died in a prison hospital, after prison officials "suddenly" discovered that he suffered from cirrhosis of the liver and acute tuberculosis. Authorities demanded that Mamadaliev's father sign a document renouncing any claims against the Uzbek government, or he would not receive the body. Pictures of Mamadaliev's body indicate clear signs of torture, with the liklihood of severe beatings and forced anal penetration, says RRG. A case opened into his death was closed after a forensic analysis said he died of "natural causes".

    Voice of Freedom reports that Jamoliddin Karimov, sentenced for "violation of the constitution order" and other crimes was reported to have suffered a broken arm while in custody, worsened by poor medical care. The group also reported that Istam Khudayberdiev, sentenced for offenses related to his religious beliefs, died in prison in April 2009. His wife, Musharraf Khudayberdieva, found clear marks of torture on his body. Her first husband, Farhod Usmonov died in police custody as well in 1999, and her younger brother, Shukrullo Khudayberdiev died in a Tashkent prison in 2006.

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    The Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (Ezgulik) reports that Kayum Ortikov, formerly employed in the diplomatic service of the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a security guard of the British Embassy in Tashkent, was arrested and charged with human trafficking in December 2008. Alleged trafficking victims later testified in court that their statements against Ortikov were obtained under coercion. While under pre-trial investigation, police officers of the Chilonzor district police reportedly tortured Ortikov to incriminate Umid Ibodullaev, another British Embassy security guard. The court rejected the defense attorney's appeal to appoint a forensic expert to account for injuries Ortikov suffered while in detention. Relatives have been denied visits with him since January 2009, and he was reported to have written a letter saying he refused to see his relatives. The letter and some blood-stained clothes were returned to his parents on May 19, and his current status is not known. Ezgulik also reported the case of Erkin Alimov, arrested on drug charges in March, who was hospitalized after his legs were broken in prison.

    The newsletter also provides news of possibly politically-motivated arrests, including the case of Nodir Rakhmonkulov, 25, a teacher, and Bekhzod Zairov, 33, who worked in the UK for some time and returned to Uzbekistan, followed by a group of independent human rights defenders. The two were arrested in February 2009 and were charged with an attempt on the life of the president and participation in banned extremist organizations and sentenced to 8 and 9 years of prison, respectively.

    The Najot regional human rights group of reports that 47 migrant laborers from Uzbekistan have died in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine since 2005.

     Source: Experts Working Group publication via email 06/04/09. Full copies in English can be obtained by writing

    to xprtwg09@gmail.com. Synopsis by OSI Central Eurasia Project.

3. ECONOMIC NEWS

a. GM Uzbekistan's Uncertain Future Amid Talk of a Takeover

    General Motors operations in Uzbekistan are unaffected by the company’s bankruptcy proceedings, Uzbek authorities insist, even though the local operation may be subject to a takeover.

    GM Uzbekistan "does not plan to adjust its development programs in connection with GM’s bankruptcy," a source in the Uzbek government told Russian news agency Interfax on June 4. Investment is funded by the plant’s own resources and by loans from domestic banks, the source added.

    However, Interfax also reports that automotive supplier Magna and Russia’s Sberbank, which are currently in talks to acquire GM’s European carmaker Opel, are interested in buying out GM’s share in its Russian and Uzbek operations.

    Production at the Asaka plant near Andijan slumped by 13.9 percent in the first two months of 2009 compared to the same period last year, with some models reporting dives of up to 32.1 percent. GM owns a 25 percent equity stake in the Uzbek project. Uzavtosanoat holds the other 75 percent. President Islam Karimov and US Ambassador Richard Norland discussed the future of GM in Uzbekistan when they met on June 3, the news website Vesti.uz reported.

    Source: eurasianet.org/06/05/09 Full version: http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/news/articles/eav060509b.shtml

     10 ?2007 Open Society

    Institute

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