The Republic of Uzbekistan, a land-locked central Asian country of approximately thirty million, has this week further censored access to information on the web thanks to the continuing antics of it’s authoritarian President, Islam Karimov. Karimov is Uzbekistan’s first president, and has ruled since 1990, a full year before it gained independence from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991.
Karimov fits the standard authoritarian profile, tolerating no dissent, rigging elections and harshly dealing with opponents. Think of him as a central Asian Hugo Chavez. In concert with his aims of controlling all media and communications so that it is always pro-Karimov, his government cronies this week blocked many websites that they deemed would incite potential problems for the regime. The sites blocked include the New York Times, The Financial Times, Reuters, and dozens of Russian news sites. The BBC site has been blocked for six years and the Associated Press is not even permitted to report from the country.
Uzbekistan has one of the worst records vis a vis press freedom in the world, and its government considers censorship as part and parcel of preserving their rule and combating any infiltration, interference or insurgency from any one of its neighboring countries: Turkmenistan and Afghanistan to the south, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to the east and Kazakhstan to the north.
So, if you are thinking of vacationing in Tashkent, you should be prepared to be kept in the dark about global events and should probably not expect to be doing much blogging. I suppose @flyingnorthblog should keep that in mind too.