Monday, 15, April, 2024

BBC Uzbek Service journalist Ibrat Safo reported that he was invited “to a conversation” at the Chilanzar district police department of Tashkent city, he said on his Facebook.

“Before “finding” me, [the police officer] twice disturbed my 58-year-old retired sister, who works as a teacher, and ordered her to come to the Chilanzar district police department. I told my sister not to go. I called her from London,” he said.

According to the journalist, this has been the first time this has happened to him in 20 years of working as a BBC journalist in London. “The most interesting thing is that I have not lived in Chilanzar since 2017; my residence registration is at the Uzbekistan Embassy in London,” he noted.

The officer of the police department called Jasur refused to give his full name and rank, said Ibrat Safo. He referred to the order of the “Media Monitoring Center under the Presidential Administration” (most likely, it is about the Center for Mass Communications, a structural division of the Agency of Information and Mass Communications under the President) for his “negative” comments about Uzbekistan. We are talking about a Facebook post dated February 1st (below).

Translation of the post: “The very fact that the mayor of one of the cities, during his tenure, drained a park in the city center, built Disneyland (Magic City) for his own enrichment, would have caused a big political scandal in democratic countries. However, Uzbekistan, of course, lives by other criteria. Why do we need to go deeper, right?”

The journalist said that the police officer referred to the “discrediting the government of Uzbekistan” charge but he did not specify what kind of law it was.

Ibrat Safo indicated that he did not name names in his publication, but spoke about the situation after “the entrepreneur, former khokim, himself stated that he owns Magic City.”

“It turns out they're not happy about it. I don’t know how old Jasur is or what are his skills in journalism, but he accused me of not being a “patriot” and ordered me to stop writing such posts. He also said that he is a patriot. When I asked for advice on what specific topics I could write about, he did not answer. When he tried to find out when I would arrive in Uzbekistan, for some reason he didn’t like that I asked him for a plane ticket. Now, it turns out, he will send a complaint to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” the journalist wrote, noting that the conversation was recorded in a BBC studio.

On February 1, the former mayor of Tashkent and owner of the Akfa group of companies, Jahongir Artykhodjaev, announced that he had sold seven of his companies (he later announced that he had sold 12 companies). Among them was the Magic City park, which opened on the site of the National Park in June 2021. The investor in the project was Stargate Systems, part of Akfa. The company received 20.79 hectares of park land for a 49-year lease.

The owners of Stargate Systems with an authorized capital of 426.9 billion soums are Tashkent Aquarium (86.2%) and Alisher Abdujabarovich Abduvakhitov (13.8%), who is the son of former presidential adviser Abdujabar Abduvakhitov (matchmaker Jahongir Artykhodzhaev). Alisher Abduvakhitov fully owns Tashkent Aquarium (100%), as well as shares in Artel Technical School and others.

According to the Competition Development Committee, in 2023, Tashkent Aquarium bought a 99.9% stake in Stargate Systems for 371.4 billion soums.

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