TASHKENT, October 27 (RIA Novosti) – A number of news websites carrying coverage critical of Uzbekistan’s government became available for viewing Sunday after years of being blocked in the authoritarian Central Asian nation.
The sites included those of the Uzbek language service of U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and news portals Uznews.net and Fergananews.com.
Web users in Uzbekistan had previously only been able to gain access to the sites by using proxy servers.
It was unclear Sunday whether access to the sites was temporary, or due to a technical malfunction.
Media is tightly controlled in Uzbekistan and criticism of the government is not tolerated.
Reporters Without Borders media rights group ranked Uzbekistan in 164th place out of 179 countries in its most recent World Press Freedom Index.
“The sinister dictatorship of Uzbek President Islam Karimov refined its control of the Internet, maintained a stranglehold on the media and kept a dozen journalists in prison in appalling conditions,” the group said in its 2013 report.