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US: Former Soviet Republics in Central Asia Restrict Human, Political Rights

The U.S. State Department's annual report on human rights says the repression of human and political rights is a problem in most of the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia.

The report says the government of Kazakhstan has restricted political opposition by hindering political party registration and issuing politically-motivated charges against critics. It also has fined, convicted or suspended media outlets and journalists, and harassed non-governmental organizations.

The report says the government of Uzbekistan has closed down more than 200 civil society organizations and sought to control most non-governmental activity. It says independent journalists and human rights activists are also persecuted.

The U.S. report says Kyrgyzstan's human rights record improved after democratic elections in 2005, and that a new constitution adopted in 2006 offered the possibility of checks and balances within the government. However, parliament negated those changes in December. The report says the Kyrgyz government also harasses foreign-funded non-governmental organizations.

The rights report says freedom of expression, association, and assembly are still tightly controlled in Turkmenistan. Its government controls all domestic media and prohibits local journalists from contact with foreigners. The report says journalists have been imprisoned, and quotes non-governmental organizations as saying some have been tortured.