Uzbekistan proposes new rules on protests

Reform-touting Uzbekistan on Wednesday published a draft bill on protests that would allow demonstrations within tight limits.

While the Central Asian country”s constitution formally permits public demonstrations, citizens have hardly ever been allowed to protest freely during the Central Asian country’s 29 years of independence from the USSR.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has rolled back some of the harsher restrictions devised under his predecessor and patron Islam Karimov, while keeping the authoritarian system largely intact.

Draft legislation published on a government portal sets out the proposed new rules for protests.

These include a requirement for organisers to apply for permission at least 15 working days before the planned date.

Another stipulation prohibits demonstrations within 300 metres (1,000 feet) of statues of historical and cultural importance, government buildings, courts and religious buildings.

Citizens would also be unable to hold demonstrations at the weekend or during the evenings on weekdays.

It is not clear when the bill will be forwarded to parliament.

With 33 million people, landlocked Uzbekistan is the most populous of the five countries of Central Asia that declared independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991.