Ethnic Armenian Tried In Uzbekistan On 'Extremism' Charges

By RFE/RL's Uzbek Service

A court in Uzbekistan has begun the trial of an ethnic Armenian accused with four others of plotting to carry out "anticonstitutional activities" in Uzbekistan and of being sympathizers of the Islamic State extremist group, among other charges.

Journalists were not allowed to enter the courtroom in the city of Jizzakh, where Aramais Avakian and four friends went on trial on January 7.

Avakian's wife, Shirin Tursunova, said: "Judging by my husband's appearance, it seems that he has been mistreated in custody. When the judge told him to rise, he was barely able to stand up."

Aramais Avakian has been held in an isolation cell of the local branch of the Uzbek National Security Service in Jizzakh since September 4.

Tursunova insists the charges against her husband, who is Christian, are baseless.

Tursunova and the families of other suspects say the case has been fabricated as an attempt to take over a successful business that Avakian was running with the help of the others.

Avakian created a network of ponds and started raising salmon and carp, which he began to sell after their numbers were in the dozens of tons.

The families say the local district governor threatened to have Avakian thrown into jail so he could snatch up the profitable fish ponds for his own family.

The governor has publicly denied any attempt to seize the ponds.