A court in Uzbekistan has sentenced a teenager to two-and-a-half years in prison for insulting President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
The 19-year-old, a resident of the Kattakurgan district in the Samarkand region, was found by the court to have written comments on Instagram that could be deemed defamatory of the president. The verdict was passed in October but only made public by the Supreme Court late last week.
According to the case materials, the man, who has been identified only by his initials, I.D., left the incriminating comment, the specific content of which has not been disclosed, under a video entitled “Presidential Family” while he was working in Russia in summer. He later deleted the comment on the advice of acquaintances.
Investigators concluded that the comment contained “actions insulting and discrediting the president of the Republic of Uzbekistan.”
When the young man found out a criminal case had been initiated against him, he voluntarily returned to Uzbekistan, on August 24.
During court proceedings, the man insisted he did not oppose Mirziyoyev’s policies and was merely acting with youthful immaturity when he penned the offensive remarks. He pleaded guilty and expressed regret, according to the Supreme Court.
The amendment to Uzbekistan’s criminal code that made online “insult and slander” of the head of state an offense was adopted in March 2021. The offense is punishable by up to five years in prison.
No information is available on how many individuals have been charged and sentenced for the crime of insulting the president since that change to the law. Uzbek media did, however, report in February 2022 on the case of citizen journalist called Sobirjon Babaniyazov who was sentenced to three years in prison for insulting both Mirziyoyev and his late predecessor, Islam Karimov.