Prominent journalists of online news publications in Uzbekistan have been quitting jobs. Resigning of the journalist of www.Kun.uz (most visited news site in Uzbekistan) Ilyos Safarov has raised new concerns about the state of freedom of speech and media freedom in this country.
The resignation announcement, made public by Safarov on social networks, coincided with ongoing investigative and judicial proceedings against a number of local bloggers and journalists.
Ilyos Safarov is the fourth journalist to leave Kun.uz over the past few months. Earlier, journalists from Gazeta.uz and Qalampir.uz also announced their resignation.
In the latest press freedom ranking by Reporters Without Borders, Uzbekistan slipped by 4 places from 133rd to 137th place.
Prominent journalist Ilyos Safarov, who worked at Kun.uz for six years, commenting on the reason for his resigning, wrote the following: “Apparently, the time has come. Journalism is entering a very difficult era.”
Ilyos Safarov is one of the few Uzbek journalists who covered the most pressing issues in Uzbekistan, such as restrictions on freedom of speech, pressure on critical bloggers and social network activists, and also openly criticized the policies of the government and the country’s leaders.
Colleagues said that Ilyos was renowned for giving bold questions to high-ranking officials on the most pressing concerns.
While, in recent months, Ilyos Safarov has attracted the attention of the Kun.uz audience by holding round tables on topical issues.
A few days ago, Sanjar Said, who worked for almost eight years at Gazeta.uz, one of the most popular publications in Uzbekistan, wrote that “remote work” was the reason for his departure from the publication.
Before this, two more journalists left Kun.uz - Elmurod Ermatov and Abror Zahidov.
The editors of both publications did not comment on the departure of famous journalists from work.
Independent journalists familiar with the activities of these online publications explain the situation with pressure on journalists who, unlike their professional colleagues, write relatively freely.
Another freelance journalist from Uzbekistan says that in recent months, the management of the publication he works with has often warned its employees to be careful when writing articles.