Uzbek National Television and Radio Company chief Bobur Alikhanov has become the third head of state TV to lose the role in less than a year. Mr Alikhanov had not even been in the job a month.
Numerous local media outlets, cited by Radio Free Europe, reported yesterday that both Mr Alikhanov and the head of the presidential press office, Asadjon Khodjaev, were dismissed on 29 August.
Mr Alikhanov’s dismissal makes him the third head of the state broadcaster to lose his job since President Shavkat Mirziyoyev came to power in September last year.
While there has been no official comment, reports speculate that the decision is linked to recent attempts to make state TV appear more neutral and less of a government mouthpiece. Radio Free Europe affirms that on 21 August Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov ordered all live shows bar newscasts to come to a halt. State television had introduced live talk shows and panel discussions earlier this year, following suggestions by President Mirziyoyev — a rare move towards increased openness in a country where state control over media and culture is extensive and growing.
Despite growing censorship concerns among local media outlets, the BBC announced earlier this month that it plans to restart its operations in Uzbekistan after a period of 12 years, a sign that tensions could be easing between the Uzbek government and the international media.