Uzbekistan Jails Woman for Spying for Tajikistan
The thaw between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan has not spelled an end to spy-mania.
In the first such instance since the death of the late, paranoid Uzbek president Islam Karimov, a court in Uzbekistan has sentenced a woman to 10-and-a-half years in jail on charges of spying for Tajikistan.
In the bad old days, all manner of people — from diplomats to prostitutes and businessmen to imams — got prison time in Uzbekistan for similar alleged offenses. It was common for the offenders to confess to their crimes on national television.
This time around the ax has fallen on a resident of Uzbekistan’s Syrdarya region, Alyona Kim, who was tried in a military court. She was accused of passing on state secrets and “causing harm to state security.”
According to details reported by RFE/RL’s Uzbek service, Radio Ozodlik, Kim worked for a time in Uzbekistan in the Interior Ministry. Later, she and a friend, Zula Halimova, got jobs in Tajikistan, working as waitresses in Khujand from 2004 to 2005.
But last year, Halimova was detained by the police in Uzbekistan, whose possessions included a picture her with Kim. It is not clear how Uzbek authorities thought to target Halimova, but during questioning, she gave evidence against Kim and was herself sentenced to 12 years in jail for spying.
The military court declined to comment on the case to RFE/RL’s Uzbek service, Radio Ozodlik, explaining that the matter involved issues of national security.
In 2016, the same court sentenced another Uzbek citizen, Sharifjon Asrorov to 16 years in jail, again for spying for Tajikistan. That case was even the subject of a documentary that detailed how Asrorov had purportedly been passing on information about jails and military bases in several regions of Uzbekistan.
In April 2014, three women living in a region bordering Tajikistan, who it was later claimed were prostitutes, were also sentenced of spying. According to the state’s account, the women set up a cafe-cum-brothel in 2010 in which they served military personnel and inveigled them into sharing details about military secrets.
Tajikistan is no slouch on the jailing spies front either. At the start of 2010, a Tajik citizen, Boimurod Anarov, was jailed for 20 years for spying for Uzbekistan. He is one of many to succumb to the same fate.