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Uzbekistan: Possible Changes at Security Agencies Offer Litmus Test for Reform

Uzbek police officers training. Since the death of former president Islam Karimov last summer, Uzbek authorities have undertaken largely cosmetic political transformations. But it is the fate of the country’s repressive security organs that will be the true test of the new leadership’s intent. (Photo: Academy of the Uzbek Ministry of Internal Affairs)

Ulugbek Haidarov says the date of September 14, 2006, will forever be seared into his memory.
 
On that day, the journalist was standing at a bus stop in the central Uzbekistan city of Jizzakh. Suddenly, a car drew up and out jumped five men in plainclothes, who dragged him into their vehicle and took him to a police station.
 
Haidarov told EurasiaNet.org that, in the moment, he was not initially worried. He believed he was in for the usual grilling, and then would be allowed to go home. As a well-known journalist, Haidarov was used to harassment, and believed himself relatively immune from torture, which Uzbek police are routinely accused of inflicting on detainees.
 
But after a few questions, Haidarov discovered that his interrogation would not go as expected. He had a cellophane bag shoved over his head. A police sergeant only loosened his grip as Haidarov began suffocating. The routine was repeated several times.
 

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Uzbekistan: Possible Changes at Security Agencies Offer Litmus Test for Reform

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