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Uzbekistan: Don't Mention the Opposition

By News Briefing Central Asia

Uzbek president Islam Karimov may tackle his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev about media reporting of opposition activities when the latter pays a flying visit to Tashkent on June 14. 

No details of the agenda for Medvedev’s talks were released ahead of his stopover en route to a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a regional security bloc, scheduled for June 15 in the Kazak capital Astana.

Farhod Tolipov, a political analyst in Tashkent, predicted that the presidents would discuss the embattled Uzbek opposition’s efforts to regroup – and specifically Karimov’s unhappiness about remarks made by some Russian politicians and general reporting on the issue. (See New Uzbek Opposition Force Formed.)

"Uzbekistan reacted with displeasure at the debate going on around this issue in Russian [political] circles and media,” Tolipov said. “A phone call between the two presidents even took place on this matter. This meeting offers a good opportunity to discuss this problem."

Uzbekistan’s rigidly controlled media prevent any discussion of issues the authorities are sensitive about, and many citizens of the country look to the Moscow press and broadcasters for news and alternative views on their own country.

Other issues likely to come up at the Medvedev-Karimov meeting include the anticipated drawdown of international troops from Afghanistan and its implications for neighbouring Uzbekistan, and Russian investment in Uzbek oil and gas development.

This article was produced as part of IWPR's News Briefing Central Asia output, funded by the National Endowment for Democracy. 

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