Sharipov Talks to RFE/RL

by Nathan Hamm on 11/10/2004

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty interviews Ruslan Sharipov (h/t to Asror). Much of the story recounts the history of his case, but it also sheds light on how attention to his case impacted his treatment, how he ended up in the United States, who was instrumental in getting him here, and what his plans for the future are.

Sharipov’s fortunes took a turn for the better last November, when the World Association of Newspapers named him the winner of its Golden Pen of Freedom award for 2004. Sharipov said fellow inmates found out about his award from the BBC and told him.

Sharipov said that from that moment, his jailers were more careful about how they treated him.

In June, Sharipov had the rest of his prison sentence replaced by two years of community service. He said he believed he was being transferred to his hometown of Bukhara to fulfill that service, but was told that a deal had been worked out and that he had to leave the country.

Instead of going to Bukhara, Sharipov says he was taken across the border into Kazakhstan, where he boarded a train for Moscow. He arrived in the Russian capital on 28 June. Sharipov was eventually granted asylum in the United States and arrived there on 21 October.

Sharipov credited the international community for his release, particularly the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent and Galima Bukharbaeva of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR).

Sharipov said he is looking for ways to continue his work defending human rights and promoting freedom of speech in Uzbekistan from his new home in the United States.

Let’s hear it for IWPR and the U.S. Embassy! I am still wondering when Human Rights Watch will chime in. I think I might have to start a counter.

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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