Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov may go down in history as the man who boiled his enemies alive. If there is any truth to an account by Tashkent-based rights activist Yelena Urlayeva, however, his regime may also be remembered as the killer of cute kittens.
On July 1, a group of health inspectors allegedly barged into the Tashkent apartment of ailurophile Vladimir Kravchenko and attempted to round up all his cats. They poisoned two of the cats, which later died in pain foaming blood at the mouth, as Kravchenko cradled them in his arms, according to Urlayeva’s account.
Another cat jumped to its death out of a window in the fourth-floor apartment.
“Kravchenko was very fond of his cats and this violent raid has left him in a state of shock,” Urlayeva says in her statement.
There is no apparent explanation for what might have prompted this heavy-handed approach. Police told Kravchenko that another seized cat and its newborn kittens have been taken to an animal pound. Urlayeva says Kravchenko is now filing a legal appeal over the incident.
Meanwhile, to make matters worse for Kravchenko, somebody is regularly phoning him and announcing gleefully that authorities have taken his kittens to the zoo to feed to other animals.
If a society is indeed measured by how it treats the weakest and most defenseless creatures among it, this sorry incident won’t do much for Uzbekistan’s already pretty miserable reputation.