Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE DEBATE

Rogue Nation: North Korea and the death of Kim Jong-Nam (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Rogue Nation: North Korea and the death of Kim Jong-Nam (part 2)

Read more

FOCUS

Migrant crisis: How Italy is training Libyan coast guards

Read more

ENCORE!

Slapstick, stunts and a sweet 'pas de deux' in the streets of Paris

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'Turkey is the biggest jail for journalists in the world'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'The Evolution of the Presidential Portrait'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A sweeter pill to swallow: Fillon unveils revamped healthcare policies

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

1.5 million fewer tourists visited Paris in 2016

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

NATO chief Stoltenberg: US is 'strongly committed to Alliance'

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. And you can watch it online as early as Friday.

Latest update : 2016-12-02

Uzbekistan reinforces its tight grip on election and country

© FRANCE 24 | Forced labour in the cotton fields. Villagers have to pick at least 70 kilograms of cotton per day.

Uzbekistan is holding a presidential election on Sunday that is going largely unnoticed abroad. The successor to the late president, Islam Karimov, who held power for more than a quarter century, has already been chosen, and the authorities refuse to grant visas to foreign journalists. Our reporter Elena Volochine went to this central Asian country to film a report on one of the most isolated nations in the world.

It has been 25 years since Uzbekistan held a presidential election without Karimov. Known as the "father of the nation", he had ruled the country with an iron fist since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. He died at the end of August at the age of 78, but his passing was not officially announced until September 2, to give time to plan his succession.

Uzbekistan, despite its impressive economic growth and strong tourist potential, remains one of the most isolated regimes on the planet. Along with North Korea, this Central Asian republic is the only country in the world to issue an exit visa for its citizens who travel abroad. And foreign journalists are not welcome. The authorities rarely issue press visas, even during an election period. And if reporters do manage to obtain accreditation, they are systematically monitored.

On the other hand, it’s easy for tourists to visit the country. Every year, two million of them come to admire the stunning cities of Tashkent, Bukhara or Samarqand, on the famous Silk Road. And the government is doing all it can to increase these numbers. During his lifetime, Karimov did everything he could to give the country an attractive image.

Uzbekistan is a key exporter of gold, uranium and cotton, known as “white gold” in the country. Uzbekistan continues to develop economically, while benefiting from funds from the World Bank. The bank has just tripled its aid to the country to $3 billion dollars for the period of 2016 to 2020.

To maintain this slick image in the eyes of the international community, the regime exercises almost total control over the press and civil society. In a land of censorship and a cult of personality, dissenting voices are not tolerated. Political opponents and human rights defenders are sent to prison or forced into exile. Denunciation is encouraged by state propaganda and the population is scared into informing on those who risk falling out of favour with the authorities, including journalists. The Uzbek security services, on which Karimov relied during his four terms in power, have a reputation for widespread torture.

Our reporter entered Uzbekistan on a tourist visa and managed to discreetly film this report. She brings us a rare and powerful documentary. For security reasons, most of the faces have been blurred.

By Elena VOLOCHINE

Archives

2017-02-16 Asia-pacific

Thailand still mourning its beloved King Bhumibol

He was the world’s richest monarch – wealthier than Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II - and the longest-serving, spending 70 years on the throne. Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej,...

Read more

2017-02-09 Africa

Rose Nathike: S. Sudan athlete’s race for a better life

For Rose Nathike, running is a way of life. First the South Sudanese athlete ran to flee the war in Sudan. Then she trained at her refugee camp in northern Kenya. Finally she...

Read more

2017-02-02 jihad

Video: Jihad Sisters, French women bound for ISIS

France 24 brings you an exceptional documentary in partnership with French TV news magazine "Envoyé spécial", on the hidden women of the jihadist web, the "sisters" of the...

Read more

2017-01-26 Asia-pacific

Flight MH370: Families of missing passengers search for the truth

It’s a unique case in the history of modern aviation. Nearly three years after its disappearance, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, a Boeing 777 with 239 people on board, has still...

Read more

2017-01-19 Burundi

Burundi: Fear and Exile

When Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he was running for a controversial third mandate in April 2015, he sparked a major crisis and many demonstrations. Since...

Read more