Uzbek telecoms tsar fired after restricting social network access

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TASHKENT – Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on Wednesday fired the head of the Central Asian nation’s telecoms watchdog after he restricted access to popular social networks and websites such as Facebook and YouTube.

The president’s spokesman said the decision by watchdog Uzkomnazorat to drastically reduce the speed at which Uzbekistan’s 35 million citizens can access those websites was “unilateral and not fully thought-out”.

“I think access to all social networks will be restored soon,” spokesman Sherzod Asadov wrote in an official news channel in the Telegram messenger, adding that Uzkomnazorat head Golibsher Ziyayev has been fired.

Uzkomnazorat earlier said the social networks and messengers did not comply with a new personal data law which took effect last week and requires Uzbeks’ personal data to be stored on servers located in the Central Asian nation.

The list of restricted services also included Meta Platforms’ Instagram, Microsoft’s LinkedIn and Telegram – a popular Russian-developed messenger widely used by Uzbek government bodies among others.

Access to TikTok, Twitter, Skype, Russian social network VK and China’s WeChat has been restricted in Uzbekistan since July.

(Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov,; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov, editing by Ed Osmond and Alistair Bell)