Known for critical reports on the government in Uzbekistan, Alexei Volosevich, a 38-year-old reporter for the online news agency Ferghana.ru said on Wednesday he was attacked by radical nationalists outside his apartment near his home in the capital Tashkent.
“I got a phone call from a man who said he was from Andijan and wanted to pass me very important information about the Andijan events,” Volosevich said.
“When I went out onto the street, five people attacked me. I fell down and they poured several cans of oil paint over me,” said Volosevich, adding that they shouted “You can’t sell your Motherland!”
He also said anti-Semitic graffiti was scrawled on the walls outside his apartment door.
The journalist was one of the few reporters to witness the crushing of an uprising by security forces in the eastern Uzbek province of Andijan earlier this year.
“I think it (the attack) is an attempt to shut up the handful of local independent and foreign journalists covering the events in the country”
Two weeks ago, Volosevich wrote about a controversial trial of the alleged ringleaders of the Andijan uprising.
Volosevich extensively covered the uprising, in which rights groups say hundreds of civilians died when government troops brutally suppressed the demonstrations.
The government says about 190 people died and that Islamic hardliners instigated the uprising.
“I am sure the attack was organised by the secret service, who warned me two weeks ago about the consequences of being critical of the government,” Volosevich said, after being attacked.
“I think it (the attack) is an attempt to shut up the handful of local independent and foreign journalists covering the events in the country,” he said.
In recent years, and particularly since the Andijan uprising, Uzbekistan’s authoritarian government has cracked down on foreign non-governmental organisations and tightened restrictions on independent journalists.