Russian politicians appear split over the situation in Uzbekistan. Dmitry Rogozin, head of Rodina party, claimed that Karimov became a target of radical Islamists when he allowed U.S. military bases on Uzbek soil. Konstantin Zatulin of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party argued that Karimov "did it all right" to forestall destabilization. Alexei Mitrofanov, deputy of the Liberal-Democratic party, blamed U.S. interference in Afghanistan for general destabilization across Central Asia.
Yet, Sergei Mitrokhin of Yabloko warned against Russian support for the Karimov regime, which could trigger civil war in Uzbekistan. Boris Nemtsov, of the Union of Right Forces, picked up this notion and argued that the Karimov regime was doomed and that by supporting Karimov the Kremlin had picked a loosing scenario, as it had in Ukraine.
Initially, the mainstream media in Russia, notably First Channel and RTR television, appeared to be siding with Karimov and interpreted the events in Uzbekistan mainly as a plot by Islamic extremists.
The one-sided view seen on Russia's major television channels earned a measure of criticism from other Russian media outlets. Izvestiya ran a series of articles, headlined: "Events in Uzbekistan: Popular revolt or extremist rebellion?" The daily described events in Andijan as a revolution, adding that the coverage by Russian official media outlets was somewhat detached from reality. Izvestiya specifically criticized Russian First Channel, which merely followed Uzbek official statements, described Uzbek protesters as extremists, and ignored alternative versions of the Andijan events (Izvestiya, May 17).
Presumably responding to such criticism, the First Channel on Tuesday reported not only the official death toll of 169 for Andijan, but also mentioned unofficial estimate of 745 fatalities (TV First Channel, May 17).
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