At an October 22 briefing designed to tout the enhanced relationship between the United States and Uzbekistan ahead of the first visit to the Central Asian country by a U.S. secretary of state in seven years, a senior State Department official was asked whether this strategic partner was still boiling people alive. The fact that this question needed to be asked is a worrisome sign for U.S. moral authority.
Uzbekistan, one of the world’s most repressive countries, launched its own social networking site Muloqot (“dialogue) on September 1. User access to the site will be restricted to Uzbek citizens and they will be required to provide a cell phone number in order to register. Although the level of censorship the site will be subjected to is unclear, given the authoritarian nature of the regime, it is likely the government will monitor content and user activity. Muloqot will aim to rival Facebook, which remains the most popular social networking site in Uzbekistan with over 80,000 users. The launch was scheduled to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Uzbekistan’s “independence.”
The Uzbekistan Supreme Court approved a decision this week to close Human Rights Watch’s office in Tashkent. The organization received information from the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan that the Justice Ministry was planning to liquidate the Tahkent office and scheduled an initial hearing on March 15.
A majority of Americans see democracy in the U.S. as weak and getting weaker, according to a national survey released by The Democracy Project, a joint initiative of Freedom House, the George W. Bush Institute, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
This report evaluates the risks and vulnerabilities of mobile phone services and apps in 12 specified countries, analyzing multiple mobiel technologies to determine their capacity to protect security and privacy and to combat censorship and surveillance.
Download the full report here.
“Promise and Reversal: The Post-Soviet Landscape Twenty Years On,” marks the 20th anniversary of the failed Soviet coup of August 19, 1991. The retrospective essay examines the changes in the political rights and civil liberties in the former Soviet Union over the last two decades, as well as includes graphs and rankings that illustrate the region's performance in the annual Freedom House publications Freedom in the World and Freedom of the Press. The report concludes that there is a serious and disturbing failure to embrace democratic institutions in most of the post-Soviet region.
Only a decade and a half since the end of the Cold War, freedom of the press for millions of people across the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) has come nearly full circle. The media landscape across most of today’s CIS in some aspects differs from that of the Soviet era, but in important ways is imposing a no less repressive news media environment. Gone is all encompassing ideological state media control. Russia – and most of the countries on its periphery – today features modern methods of information control that effectively shuts off the majority of people in these lands from news and information of political consequence.
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