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Uzbekistan suspends U.S. pro-democracy NGO, citing law abuse


TASHKENT, January 16 (RIA Novosti) - International NGO Freedom House will have its operations in Uzbekistan suspended for violating the country's law, the Justice Ministry said in a press release Monday.

According to the ministry, a civil court in the capital, Tashkent, ordered the suspension after carrying out an inquiry into the ministry's allegations that Freedom House had grossly violated Uzbekistan's registration and licensing laws and failed to provide financial reports to Uzbek authorities. The U.S.-based pro-democracy NGO was accused, among other things, of letting local human rights organizations use its Internet facilities.

Last year, the Uzbek government suspended accreditation of Uzbek journalists working for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and closed the local offices of Internews - a U.S.-based NGO providing media support for pro-democracy movements throughout the world.

Pressure on international organizations working in Uzbekistan to promote democracy, free speech and free press has escalated since last May's popular uprising in the eastern province of Andijan. Uzbek authorities accused foreign aid and human rights groups of instigating the unrest.

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