Independent media outlets in Uzbekistan are threatened with closure. This time it isn’t because the government is trying to shut them down. Foreign funding is drying up and that decrease in funds may cause non-state controlled media to shut down for lack of funding, Radio Free Europe reported.
The media outlets, which include Harakat.net, Uznews.net, Ferghana.ru and Uzmetronom.com, have survived in a country inhospitable to dissent and consistently ranked in the bottom percentiles of press freedom indices. Yet, dwindling funds coming in from international organizations have spelled doom for their news production, which competes with state-run media.
"We haven't received funding from our international donors in recent years, and have to rely on individual activists and readers' donations," Taskent-based editor of Harakat.net Abdurahmon Tashanov said in the Radio Free Europe article.
The media outlets continue to run unofficially in the country as unregistered media, meaning that the government continually attempts to quash their voice. Nevertheless, they’ve continued to report critically. As funds have dried up, reporters have been fired to compensate and many outlets are now only run by one editor.
Al Jazeera noted the Western world’s turbulent relationship with Uzbekistan, which has been used as a base of operations in Central Asia. As of 2001, when NATO stationed itself in Uzbekistan to undertake operations against al-Qaeda, a lot of foreign aid poured into the country. That foreign aid is dwindling as Western operations do.
Another reason behind decreasing funding may be the reputation of Uzbekistan in regards to investment corruption. Zawya.com recently reported that Uzbekistan is ranked 7th in the world for corruption and that many international companies reported issues with Uzbek partners. This lack of confidence may be contributing to decreasing support for Uzbek companies overall.
Many of the editors of the dying independent media urge foreign investors to take interest once again.
“…the future for independent media in Uzbekistan is bleak," Uzmetronom.com editor Sergei Ejkov said in the Radio Free Europe article. "If you don't have money you can't eat. It means independent media is simply fading out."
By Kelly Moffitt.