When Uzbek émigrés created a new opposition group last May in Berlin called the Popular Movement of Uzbekistan (PMU), they hoped it would mark the start of a process that replicated the experiences in North Africa and the Middle East and bring Uzbek leader Islam Karimov’s 22-year rule to an end. But the murder of one of the PMU’s founding members has stopped all talk among opposition activists, at least temporarily, about happy endings.
Fuad Rustamhojaev, a 38-year-old Uzbek émigré businessman who helped set up the PMU and who was actively involved in the organization, was gunned down in late September outside his home in Ivanovo, a city in western Russia. A native of Andijan, Rustamhojaev, obtained Russian citizenship in 2005. He was married with two young daughters, and earned a living as an importer of textiles from his homeland.
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Catherine A.Fitzpatrick is a freelance writer who covers human rights issues in Central Asia. She is the author of Eurasianet's Choihona and Sifting the Karakum blogs.