European Union foreign ministers on Monday threatened to scale back ties with Uzbekistan unless the central Asian state allows an independent probe into recent bloodshed by the end of June.
The ministers also urged Uzbekistan to allow the 25-nation bloc's human rights official to visit eastern regions of the former Soviet republic, where some 500 people are reported to have been killed when troops put down a revolt on May 13.
The statement added that any EU measures would be meant to spare the Uzbek population, which could mean that the bloc was considering a freeze in diplomatic ties or travel ban for government officials rather than trade sanctions.
EU ministers created the post of the bloc's special envoy to central Asia on Monday, seeking to increase its influence in the region in wake of unrest in Uzbekistan. Russian-speaking Slovakian diplomat Jan Kubis is favourite for the job.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
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Third Way, the Belarusian organisation whose members are being prosecuted for producing satirical cartoons about Lukashenka,
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We are continuing to focus our efforts on the Belarusian prisoner of conscience Mikhail Marinich.
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Members of these groups have joined our blog to share their views and experiences.