Uzbek Blogger On Trial For Critical Writing On Facebook

NAMANGAN, Uzbekistan -- A blogger in Uzbekistan's eastern city of Namangan has gone on trial for alleged libel and charges of using Facebook to publish insults about Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov and the daughters of the late President Islam Karimov.

The trial of the 59-year-old Abbos Nasriddinov began on February 22 at the Namangan City Administrative Court.

Nasriddinov told RFE/RL that he had simply expressed his opinions regarding issues in society, something which is guaranteed by the country’s constitution.

If found guilty, Nasriddinov could face a hefty fine.

Since Karimov's death in 2016, more bloggers and journalists have begun expressing criticism of public officials under his successor Shavkat Mirziyoev.

President Mirziyoev has announced an agenda aimed at decreasing Uzbekistan's international isolation, establishing "a dialogue" between the authorities and ordinary people, and mending tense ties with neighboring Central Asian countries.

In October, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that Uzbek authorities had taken "some positive steps" during Mirziyoev’s first year but still needs to make "sustainable" improvements on human rights.