Source Pravda.Ru

Uzbek activist asks Russia to protect jailed chairman of opposition from medical abuse

An Uzbek activist on Wednesday called on Russian officials and rights groups to pressure Uzbek authorities to provide an immediate medical examination of a jailed opposition leader. Nodira Khidoyatova claimed Uzbek officials were using psychotropic substances to mentally disable Sanjar Umarov, chairman of the Sunshine Uzbekistan opposition group.

"He was absolutely out of it, he couldn't walk out of his cell, he was naked, he was shaking his head left and right and he covered his face with his hands," Khidoyatova, an aide to Umarov, told reporters.

She cited Umarov's lawyer as her source, and she said a law enforcement officer who was searching in her office in the Uzbek capital Tashkent told her that Umarov was being drugged into unconsciousness.

In Tashkent, meanwhile, Interfax quoted a prosecutor's spokeswoman as saying that the investigation into Umarov was continuing.

"He is in good health and does not need any medical attention," spokeswoman Svetlana Artykova was quoted as saying.

Umarov was detained on Oct. 22 on allegations of embezzlement, but Khidoyatova said prosecutors have yet to specify accusations against him. She called his arrest a government-sponsored campaign to silence a dissident voice, according to the AP.

Artykova rejected allegations that Umarov case was political.

"The crimes he has been accused of have no relation to politics," she told The Associated Press.

Umarov has been a vocal critic of the brutal suppression of the May 13 popular uprising in the eastern city of Andijan. Rights groups say government troops fired on unarmed protesters, killing more than 700 people. The government contends the uprising was encouraged by Islamic extremists, and puts the death toll at 187.

T.E.