A court in the Uzbek city of Namangan yesterday sentenced four local residents to prison terms from five to seven years on charges of “terrorism” and “propagating Wahhabism.” The sentence took into account the “mitigating circumstance” that the defendants had “sincerely repented.” They were said to have pleaded guilty several days earlier during closed-doors proceedings (see the Monitor, May 12).
The same court is now trying a group of three defendants. A further group awaits trial. At least some of the defendants are accused of having participated in last December’s acts of violence in Namangan. (Russian agencies, May 12). Although that violence most likely involved ordinary criminal groups, the authorities have blamed it on “religious extremists” and used it to justify repression of Muslim religious activities in the Fergana region.– VS
TAJIK OPPOSITION APPOINTS NEW MILITARY COMMANDER.