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Uzbekistan: President Karimov's thoughts about media

Recently President Karimov again mentioned about leading role of mass-media in Uzbekistan. Considering sensitivity of this issue and increasing cases of pressure on independent journalists (i.e. thos who don’t work in the official media), Uzbek leader called local media toothless, reports Vesti.uz [RU].

According to Islam Karimov, today’s conditions have set the task to strengthen the role of mass media in the system of civil society institutions. In addition he traditionally declared that further liberalization of mass media, active involvement of non-government press, radio, television, and their expansion in Internet must ensure publicity and openness of reforms, conducted in the republic, as well as facilitate the gradual emergence of stronger civil society.

“It is necessary to create additional conditions for better coverage of both foreign and domestic policy by mass media, considering the pluralism of opinions on the events in the country and outside. Special attention should be paid to the launch of legal mechanisms, targeted at further development of media technical base, financial and ethical stimulating of employees. Competitive compensation of labor, financial and ethical incentives assume higher independence, freedom of editorial office among newspapers and magazines and their responsibility”, Karimov said.

However, it is widely known that freedom of speech is working on paper in Uzbekistan and critical voices are silenced by official censors. Visitors of Ferghana.ru [RU] actively participate in debates over Presidents statement:

RRR says:

“Rulers got new fashion…Karimov critisizes mass media for being close and absence of glasnost; Medvedev fights corruption and tries to modernize Russia; Bakiev calls to consolidation and re-writes Constitution in favor of Absolutism… Seems like CIS leaders implemet USA Democratic Party’s tactics by Obama entitled Changes, which used to be popular in the U.S.”

Mitya (Митя) thinks that President Karimov really loves his country:

“You are all blind [as a response to those critisizing Uzbek leader]. Karimov really wants Uzbekistan to flourish. The problem is in the SNB (National Security Service) which protects interests of a group of people getting rich using the current situation. And they prefer President who believes fairy tales of the official mass media…. believe me if he finds out the the real state of affairs he’ll be beheaded [politically]. Thus, everything is more serious than you might think.”

nazariya sees the light in the end of tonnel:

“Anyways not all journalists….are mercenaries and afraid! They also write about truth (another question is coward founders and editors’ position on such publications). [And] they suffer for their rebelliousness and not willing to kneel.”

Almatinets, a guest from Almaty, says:

“I’ve been to Tashkent, watched local news [on TV], read newspapers. I recalled in my memory U.S.S.R for real. Oppositional mass media in our country also have faced big troubles but not as it is in UZB. People are really afraid of everything and don’t talk about it in public, only in an intimate circle.

In December 1991, in his interview for Halq So’zi newspaper, Karimov mentioned [RU]:

“Profession of a Journalist is one of the most difficult. A journalist is a statesman, a politician, captain on the board of the public opinion at the same time. I respect them very much and always ready to contribute to solution of their problems.”

Probably under “their problems” President meant lack of ideas and topics to write about. One of the bloggers writes:

“So, any sane employee of the Uzbek media will write laudatory articles, submitting himself to official “guidance”. Yet, praise for articles that are considered “good” isn’t given to the journalists who write them, but to only one man, the president himself!”

Also posted on neweurasia.

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