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Uzbek activists jailed for backing Ukrainian protests

01 february 2014, 10:25
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Umida Akhmedova. Photo courtesy of ca-news.org
Umida Akhmedova. Photo courtesy of ca-news.org
An Uzbek court has sentenced a group of activists including a well-known photographer to 15-day prison sentences and fines for rallying in support of anti-government protests in Ukraine, AFP reports according to the activists.

Independent photographer Umida Akhmedova was fined $872, while her son Temur Karpov was handed a $1,308 fine at a Thursday hearing, Akhmedova said Friday.

"Two other activists faced similar fines, while three men, one of them a Ukranian citizen, were convicted to 15 days of arrest," Akhmedova told AFP.

The Hamza district court in the capital Tashkent found the activists guilty of holding unsanctioned rallies, she said.

Akhmedova, her son and the five other activists briefly gathered in public places in Tashkent on Monday.

They took pictures of themselves waving Ukrainian and Georgian national flags, as well as the red-and-black flag of wartime guerrilla forces led by Ukraine's controversial nationalist figure Stepan Bandera.

The activists, some of whom are ethnic Ukrainians, also submitted a petition in support of Ukraine's pro-European protests to the country's embassy in Tashkent after holding a brief protest outside the building.

In 2010, photographer Akhmedova was convicted of slandering Uzbekistan with a book of her gritty photographs of rural life and a documentary film about women's rights, both funded by the Swiss embassy. The court then amnestied her immediately.

Ukraine has seen two months of protests against President Viktor Yanukovych's rejection of a pact with the European Union escalate into deadly violence.

An independent news website, Uzmetronom.com, called the verdict "undemocratic" but criticised activists for waving the "Nazi flag" of Bandera, a hugely divisive figure who fought against both Nazi and Soviet forces in World War II and subsequently.

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