Four rights activists were detained by Uzbek police and prevented from entering the eastern city of Andijan to investigate the aftermath of a bloody uprising there, an international rights group said Thursday.
The four activists and their driver were forced to return to the capital Tashkent after their four-hour detention late Wednesday, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights said. The four were citizens of Uzbekistan, Russia, Belarus and Azerbaijan.
"We are appealing to the Uzbek authorities to allow this international team to do its work," said Aaron Rhodes, the federation's executive director, in a statement.
Government troops opened fire on unarmed protesters in Andijan last month after militants seized a local prison and government headquarters.
Uzbek authorities say 173 people were killed while human rights advocates say up to 750 people died. The ex-Soviet republic's autocratic government rejected calls for an independent international investigation of the unrest.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko had a telephone conversation with US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan