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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 May 2006, 21:00 GMT 22:00 UK
Uzbek media play down anniversary
Uzbek soldiers disperse protesters outside the administration building in Andijan
The authorities would prefer to draw a veil over the events of May 2005

On the first anniversary of the killings in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan, the Uzbek broadcast media chose not to devote a great deal of airtime to the events.

Uzbek TV's main news programme in Russian mentioned Andijan about halfway through the bulletin, with a report that focused on the reconstruction of the city, praising government efforts to boost the local economy.

Uzbek radio earlier carried an interview with an official from Andijan, who accused religious and extremist groups of instigating the events.

He also condemned the West for what he said was an attempt to "export democracy" into Uzbekistan.

And Fergana Radio, a station covering the east of the country, dismissed the events of 13 May 2005 as an attempt by "a group of criminals" to overthrow the Uzbek government.

"This bloodshed organised by rebel groups could not subdue the willpower of our independent country's people," the radio said.

Official line

In recent days, Uzbek officials have stressed what they see as the wider implications of last year's unrest.

Colonel Abdumutal Zakurlayev, a senior investigator at the Uzbek Interior Ministry, told the Russian news agency Interfax that the events in Andijan could have destabilised the whole of Central Asia.

"An analysis of the May events in Andijan shows that it was an organised and thoroughly planned action, with intermediate and final goals," he said.

"The achievement of those goals would have destabilised the Fergana valley, Uzbekistan and the region at large."

"The destructive forces planned to repeat the coloured revolutions of Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. They wanted to create unrest but minimize the use of arms."

An expert from Tashkent Islamic University, Nurliman Abdulhasan, told a conference in Tashkent on the May events that the government's opponents wanted to carry out large-scale 'Islamisation'.

"The aim of terrorist organizations in Uzbekistan is setting up a theocratic state based on Islamic laws," he said.

Press backs stability

Recent Uzbek press reports have focused on the need for social stability.

Political commentator Ibrohim Normatov said in an article in Mohiyat newspaper that, one year on, the government's opponents were in a state of paralysis.

"The malicious ones have raised a hue and cry for one year. They still cannot forgive themselves that the spark of scandal didn't ignite on the national scale," he wrote.

"In their bitterness, they are paralysed... some of them are under the delusion of hoping for another scandal."

Mr Normatov called on Uzbeks to be vigilant over foreign media reports.

"If we don't fall for the whisperings of the Devil, then certainly we will be on the side of virtue. As our country picked the path of virtue today, our vigilance and awareness is our contribution to virtue."

Xalq Sozi took a similar line.

"In the past year, beautifying this land required endlessly painstaking efforts," it said. "Andijan's people... have a very strong desire to make their land even more beautiful and demonstrate the pointlessness of the crooked impressions about their city."

A Ferganskaya Pravda report said that work aimed at raising people's awareness was being undertaken in the Fergana Valley in a bid to end extremism.

"The country's leadership is paying special attention to the issues of raising people's spirituality and enlightenment, as well as effectively conducting awareness campaigns among the population," it said.

Servicemen honoured

In Andijan itself, the local TV station reported earlier this month that a ceremony had taken place to honour servicemen killed or injured in last year's events.

"Our people always esteem brave servicemen who protect us from persons undermining the peace, stability and prosperity of our country," the TV said.

"Country with many heroes will never buckle under", said a headline in Mahalla newspaper over an article dedicated to Sanjarbek Mahmudov, a police captain killed in Andijan.

"Sanjarbek could have stayed home that day because he was on sick leave. He would have taken advantage of this if he had been a coward," his father told the paper.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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