Uzbek Activist Claims Corruption In Distribution Of Compensation From Deadly Dam Accident

TASHKENT — An Uzbek rights activist and blogger says several people have been jailed after they complained of corruption in the distribution of housing and financial compensation for victims of a deadly dam accident in the eastern region of Sirdaryo last year.

Khairullo Qilichev told RFE/RL that several people in the region had been handed jail terms of between three and seven days after they made the accusations during their efforts to receive compensation following the disaster. According to him, the people were jailed on charges of hooliganism and disobeying the authorities.

The dam of the Sardoba Reservoir in the eastern Uzbek region of Sirdaryo burst early on May 1, 2020, resulting in the death of six people and forcing at least 70,000 people out of their homes. Over 600 homes in neighboring Kazakhstan were also flooded.

Qilichev said many of those who lost their homes had yet to receive the compensation promised by President Shavkat Mirziyoev, while many people related to local officials and whose properties had not been affected by the flooding had been provided with new houses and financial allowances.

Qilichev added that he officially requested from the Sirdaryo regional administration information on the number of local people who lost their houses after the dam burst and how many of them had been jailed in recent weeks. He said he had yet to receive an answer.

A resident of the Sardoba district, 30-year-old Ihtiyor Ochilov, told RFE/RL that he had spent seven days in jail after he officially demanded the authorities provide him and his mother with compensation for damage to their properties.

On January 14, another man, 34-year-old Murodjon Mamaraimov, was handed a seven-day jail term on charges of hooliganism and disobeying the authorities a week after he issued a video statement accusing Sirdaryo authorities of unfairly distributing compensation.

According to official figures, a total of 2,570 private houses and 76 multistory apartment blocks were destroyed by the flooding, while 1,781 private houses and 52 multistory apartment blocks were partially damaged.

A total of 17 people, including energy officials, top officials of the state railways company, and heads of construction companies that were involved into the construction of the dam, are currently on trial in Tashkent over the disaster.

They have been charged with negligence, abuse of office, document forgery, embezzlement, and violating water distribution and safety regulations.

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