EurasiaNet Human Rights - To Bolster Stability, Uzbekistan Reins in Press


EurasiaNet carries a Russian report that a "state of emergency" appears to be underway in Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan:

An April 6 analysis published by the Russian daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta is representative of the reporting by many Russian-language media outlets. The Nezavisimaya Gazeta article suggested that the militant attacks were the product of a domestic insurgency movement. "Many people in this closed and fairly poor country are unhappy with the ruling regime," political analyst Vladimir Mukhin wrote. "Peasants are worn down by officials' tyranny."

"A considerable portion of the inhabitants of the Uzbek capital polled by Nezavisimaya Gazeta describe the perpetrators of the explosions as insurgents," the analysis added. "It also seems incorrect to view the explosions as religious fanatics' revenge for the US base located in Uzbekistan."

The article went on to say that a virtual state of emergency exists in Uzbekistan. The newspaper cited an Uzbek government security source in asserting that "every suspicious individual, vehicle or apartment block was being subjected to blanket inspection in the Uzbek capital."

Articles such as the Nezavisimaya Gazeta piece directly contradict state-controlled Uzbek media accounts of the violence and its aftermath. For example, a poll published by the Vecherny Tashkent newspaper on April 6 claimed that 98.9 percent of Uzbeks believed that "anti-social forces are striving to deprive us of our main values, which are independence, peace and stability." A 99.6 percent margin supported "the actions being taken by the country's leadership, which are aimed at strengthening security and stepping up the fight against terrorism."

Meanwhile, the Uzbek militia in northern Afghanistan has withdrawn from Maimana. There was a skirmish between the militia and local fighters in another Afghan city, Kod-i-Barq, but it appears to have been very low-intensity. It's a simmering issue, and it's hard to know just what to make of it yet.

In other Afghan news, The Times of India has what may be the worst quote from Colin Powell in history:

President Bush's commitment to de-mine and repave the entire stretch of the Kabul-Kandahar highway was fulfilled. The road had not been functional for over 20 years. What was once a 30-hour journey can be accomplished in just 5 or 6 years.
That's progress!

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