Thursday, August 2, 2018

Moscow’s Growing Influence in Uzbekistan May Lead to Revival of Punitive Use of Psychiatry Against Dissidents

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 2 – Moscow’s increasing influence in Uzbekistan, including the possible opening of two new Russian bases there and the construction of an atomic power plant Moscow would insist on guarding may soon lead to a revival of one of the most horrific features of the regime of the late Islam Karimov – the punitive use of psychiatry against dissidents.

            That is the judgment of Dzhamshid Karimov, who was confined in psychiatric prisons for more than a decade under the former Uzbekistan president but survived because doctors were afraid that Islam Karimov notorious for changing his mind might punish them if Dzhamshid, a distant relative, were to die (

                Under Islam Karimov, Dzhamshid tells Kseniya Kirillova of Radio Svoboda, almost all dissidents were confined to psychiatric prisons for several months or more. Some became invalids, others ended their protests, and many emigrated.  All expected that with Islam Karimov’s death this evil practice would end forever.

            But those hopes have been dashed, he says, both by what Moscow’s occupation forces have done in Crimea – many Crimean Tatars were deported to Uzbekistan and Uzbeks still keep track of their travails – and by the increasing rapprochement of new Uzbekistan President Shavkat Shirziyoyev with Moscow.

            There is much talk in Tashkent now that Moscow will build an atomic power plant in Uzbekistan and then insist on providing the guards for it and that Moscow will open one or two new military bases in Uzbekistan, Dzhamshid says.  Moreover, sources say that the personal guard of the new Uzbekistan president has been vetted by the Russian FSB.

            A clear indication of Russia’s power in Uzbekistan is that Russian connections saved the notorious Rustam Inoyatov, the former head of Uzbekistan’s National Security Service, from being arrested and tried for his crimes, including the use of illegal psychiatric punishment of dissidents.

            Given all this, Dzhamshid suggests, it would not be surprising if the new Uzbekistan leadership would restore the practices of the Karimov regime in this area, however much progress it may have made in others.  As for himself, the dissident, says, he plans to leave Uzbekistan as soon as possible.

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