Uzbekistan remains "nightmare for journalists"

The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders has published its annual Freedom of the Press Index for 2012 on which Uzbekistan occupied 164th place out of 179 countries.

From last year's index Uzbekistan moved down seven notches which shows the deterioration of the situation journalists face in the country.

It said Uzbekistan remained a nightmare for journalists.

Reporters Without Borders sees the reason for this in the horrid dictatorship of President Islam Karimov that controlled the Internet, pressured the media and punished independent journalists using courts.

In the CIS the worse situation is only in Turkmenistan where the personality cult of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov is being promoted. He now has the official title of the protector of the nation.

Turkmenistan came 177th on the index, along with Eritrea and North Korea which came on the bottom of the index.

Anyway, the situation is not much better in other Central Asian countries: Kyrgyzstan occupied 106th, Tajikistan 123rd and Kazakhstan 160th place.

In the CIS Moldova, Armenia and Georgia fared the best coming 55th, 74th and 100th.

Russia came 148th, falling six notches from last year which is explained by repressions and the suppression of protests after Vladimir Putin came to power.

The first place on the index was still occupied by Finland, followed by the Netherlands and Norway.

In Europe the culprit is Turkey which fell to 154th place. Reporters Without Borders described it as the world's largest prison for journalists.

Reporters Without Borders publishes its Freedom of the Press Index annually to reflect the degree of freedom of journalists and Internet users, as well as government efforts to ensure respect for this freedom.

"I fully agree that Uzbekistan is moving closer to the bottom on this index," an anonymous Tashkent-based journalist said.

He believes "the country where the media only praises the authorities and for an attempt to take pictures on the street could lead to a police station, there cannot be any talk of freedom of speech".