On 20 July the Uzbek authorities announced they had cancelled the performance licences of three artists, the latest in a string of stars to be suspended in the Central Asian country.
Sitora Farmonova, Sarvara Azimova and Komila Fazylova had their licences revoked, allegedly for performing abroad in violation of the terms of their licence.
According to Eurasianet, it is not clear yet whether the stars are simply prohibited from performing abroad or whether the ban is linked to the nature of their performances, suggesting the possibility of negotiation.
Olizhon Abukhakharov, head of government-run arts association Uzbeknavo's licence department, claimed that the singers concerned had been unable to entice crowds of 200-250 people at their concerts, which “greatly harms the reputation of Uzbek pop art”.
Eurasianet, however, points to a possible alternative explanation, arguing that this reasoning cannot apply to Sitora Farmonova, whose performances at the recent popular KVN comedy tournament in Russia's Kaliningrad region drew large audiences.
Farmonova took home gold from the tournament, but with a team representing Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan – Uzbekistan did not send a team to the event.
“It is said that users of Uzbek segments of social networks considered that her words on stage ridiculed Uzbekistanis. Some citizens of Uzbekistan are also irritated that she is performing in a Kyrgyz KVN team,” a report by Radio Free Europe's Kyrgyz service stated.
Farmonova has gained significant fame in Kyrgyzstan, notably by playing the lead role in the television series Dormitory.
Do the Uzbek authorities intend to see her career in Kyrgyzstan in tatters?