Censorship

One Frown Over the Line

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Yesterday Uzbek photographer Umida Akhnedova was convicted of slandering and insulting her people. Her crime consisted of taking pictures, such as the one on the right, that government officials thought made Uzbekistan look bad. Among other things, The New York Times reports, Akhnedova was accused of "showing people with sour expressions or bowed heads, children in ragged clothing, old people begging for change or other images so dreary that, according to a panel of experts convened by the prosecutors, 'a foreigner unfamiliar with Uzbekistan will conclude that this is a country where people live in the Middle Ages'" (a misleading impression, since the Spanish Inquisition never persecuted people for taking photographs). The government also charged that Akhnedova's 2008 documentary about the Uzbek custom of verifying a bride's virginity is "not in line with the requirements of ideology" and "promotes serious perversion in the young generation's acceptance of cultural values." Although her crime is punishable by up to three years in prison, the judge let her go, officially to celebrate the 18th anniversary of Uzbek independence but possibly also because the publicity surrounding the case was tarnishing Uzbekistan's reputation (no mean feat). "As Russian media picked up the story," the Times notes, "it became clear that the case reflected badly on Uzbek officials." Doesn't that mean the prosecutors are guilty of slandering the Uzbek people?

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  1. This is my country of Kazakhstan. It locate between Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, and assholes Uzbekistan.

    1. Sascha Cohen better not go to Uzbekistan. He’ll get the death penalty.

    2. On SCTV, they once had a “Russian takeover” of their satellite. John Candy played “Georgy” on “Hey, Georgy”, where all nationalities of the CCCP were friends and worked together.

      Except the decadent Uzbeks.

      1. And Jeff P had already linked to a related skit. The John Candy one here.

      2. Holy shit, I had almost completely forgotten that one. Good call. Guy Caballero!

        1. That’s twice in a week I scooped you on remembering a skit from a sketch comedy show. Has your Ritalin script run out?

          1. I wish I had a Ritalin script to run out of.

      3. “Uzbeks drank my radiator fluid!”

  2. The prosecutors have absolute immunity.

  3. Doesn’t that mean the prosecutors are guilty of slandering the Uzbek people?

    Yes. Uzbekistan should hold its unreasonable, hypocritical, and unjust prosecutors to the same high standards we in the United States do for ours.

  4. Those Shitholeistans all run together in my mind. Is this the one where El Jefe Primero commissioned a solid gold statue of himself for the adoration of the peasantry?

    1. THat sounds more like Turkmenistan.

  5. Sascha Cohen better not go to Uzbekistan. He’ll get the death penalty.

    I’ll kick in a few bucks for his ticket.

    1. No need. I’m sure its actually his next movie idea. There’s nothing left for him but to somehow make a joke out of being executed.

      1. ‘You guys – you kill me!’

        ‘Well, it’s been fun hanging with you!’

        ‘Hey, you said I could pick my last meal, and the Domino’s Pizza I ordered from Keokuk, Iowa hasn’t gotten here yet!’

  6. “As Russian media picked up the story,” the Times notes, “it became clear that the case reflected badly on Uzbek officials.”

    I suppose it is heartening to see that public opinion can still make a difference, even if voting doesn’t.

    And if pubic opinion can make a difference in Uzbekistan, I suppose it makes a difference here in the US too. …even if voting doesn’t make any difference at all.

    1. Note – it did not make any impression in Uzbekistan, in Russia only. And please, don’t have illusions, in Russia the media were permited or even incouraged to make waves, because the Russian officials are applying pressure on Uzbekistan about the American military base there and eager to pull all the strings like theats of complete banning the vacuum lamps usage (lamps are imported from Uzbekistzn) to makin a shitstorm in press, even of a cause might seem a legit one.

      1. You mean it didn’t make any difference in Uzbekistan…other than the judge, apparently, letting her go?

        I’m glad to hear our base in Uzbekistan is having these additional, serendipitous effects. …and here the neocons were thinking liberalism would spread like a contagion from one democracy to the next!

        …all we needed was a military base, I guess. Maybe someday Uzbekisan will be like Chile is today. But to your garden-variety neocon, Chile was a disaster, isn’t that right? Or is it just that there’s no way the pragmatists could have known how things would turn out? …despite having predicted beforehand how things would turn out.

        Funny how neocons always seem worried that allying ourselves with authoritarian regimes will corrupt our purpose in the eyes of the locals, and yet from Saudi Arabia to China and Russia, our rivals always seem fearful that our presence will bring the locals under our influence.

  7. a misleading impression, since the Spanish Inquisition never persecuted people for taking photographs

    Ok, so by definition, anything involving photographs can only be characterized as “living in the late industrial era”? Even if the pictures are full of rural scenes reminiscent of Middle-Age peasants.

    1. PS: squalid hut aside, even my foreigner eyes can tell that kid’s clothes are too modern to be from the middle ages. Their “panel of experts” has seriously underestimated us.

    2. NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!

  8. Pictures of reality are “slander”?

    1. Seems fair if telling the truth can be libel.

  9. Expect a rousing defense of Uzbekh Family Values from The Weekly Standard ‘s goofy sufi Stephen Schwartz. Having turned Turk, he’s been junketing to central Asia to make cultural benefit for the local regimes.

  10. “…documentary about the Uzbek custom of verifying a bride’s virginity is ‘not in line with the requirements of ideology'”

    I always wonder if these third-world charges lose something in translation or if they are meant to sound so fucking creepy.

  11. “showing people with sour expressions or bowed heads, children in ragged clothing, old people begging for change or other images so dreary that, according to a panel of experts convened by the prosecutors, ‘a foreigner unfamiliar with Uzbekistan will conclude that this is a country where people live in the Middle Ages'”

    Be simpler to convict her of being terminally depressing.

  12. And yet, if that reporter forms a corporation and disseminates those same photos with the caption, “this is what Hillary wants our country to become” 30 days before an election, certain folks here are ready to see the State shut her up too.

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