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Freedom of speech in Uzbekistan: built on sand?

Alisher Ilkhamov

10 March, 2023

On March 2, 2023, a group of Uzbek journalists, bloggers, public figures, and experts addressed President Shavkat Mirziyoev with a public statement, complaining about the hidden and harsh pressure on the press and the blogosphere and urging him to take under his protection freedom of speech in Uzbekistan.  This statement itself, as well as the fact that the day before it, the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken during his meeting with Mirziyoev also touched upon this issue,  can be seen as an indicator that the situation in the field of freedom of speech is increasingly becoming the matter of concern both in Uzbekistan and internationally. The author argues that the ruling regime of Mirziyoev has adopted a model of “controlled freedom of speech” which, however, given his intention to rule the country for life, tends to move towards eliminating all kinds of civil freedoms. The author also considers what strategies the civil society in Uzbekistan can adopt to prevent this scenario.

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