Uzbekistan declares war on commercial media

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The Director General of the Uzbek Press and Information Agency (UzAPI), Laziz Tangriev, has announced that his department will begin an “unprecedented struggle” against their “colleagues” in private publishing houses and independent media outlets, which he argues violate laws, disregard national values ​​and sully the reputation of journalism for the sake of profits.

In his open letter to the media, entitled “We will not spare those who harm our culture”, Mr Tangriev recalls Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev's recent assertion that the commercialisation of the sphere of art, literature and the media should not be allowed.

“Why, when we buy low-quality [...] goods in a store, do we swear at the seller, but when private publishers harm our spirituality and negatively affect our youth, we do not say anything?” Mr Tangriev asks, claiming that such publishers will now be “humiliated in front of the public”.

“Let the people openly know who is a friend, and who is an enemy of our spirituality,” concludes the UzAPI Director General's letter.

This move echoes a wider move towards state control over media and culture (including film and music) in Uzbekistan. As of 1 July 2017, singers in Uzbekistan need state permission to post their music videos on YouTube, while performers are required to obtain a licence to be able to appear on television and radio, as well as at events such as weddings. On the other hand, the BBC's plans to restart its operations in Uzbekistan after an absence of nearly 12 years suggests a possible thaw in relations between the Uzbek government and the international media.

Source:The Calvert Journal

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