Uzbekistan may be trying to improve its reputation among cat lovers.
A court in Tashkent has begun hearings on the murder of a domestic cat, the Uznews.net website reports. The cat was killed on January 7, allegedly shot by one Alisher Shukurov with an air rifle in the Mirzo-Ulugbek district of Tashkent. Animal rights activists at the January 19 hearing presented evidence including a bullet taken from the cat's skull and video footage of the execution.
But the trial has been postponed because, according to the report, a man admitted guilt in place of Shukurov, the son of a former police official who had been convicted for abuse of power: “Witnesses believe the young man is either a relative of the Shukurovs or a hired worker forced ‘to play the role of the culprit.’”
Ailurophiles may recall with horror the violent raid on the Tashkent home of Vladimir Kravchenko by health inspectors last July. The officials allegedly poisoned two of Kravchenko’s beloved cats on the spot and seized another before a fourth could jump to its death out the fourth-floor apartment window. Later, Kravchenko received anonymous calls taunting him with news the seized cat’s kittens would be fed to other animals at the zoo.
Cats are not uniformly hated in Uzbekistan, however, as evidenced by the popularity of a patriotic Uzbek version of the Nyan Cat meme on YouTube.
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.
Dushanbe celebrities, Talabsho Sheikhov and his bear Maria wander Tajikistan's capital earning money by charging for photos. Sheikhov, 80, says he found Mariya, an orphan, 17 years ago in the Pamir Mountains and raised her with a bottle, sometimes offering her human milk. Today she eats Snickers and shashlik (grilled meat) and, while sometimes a little frightened by the crowds of onlookers, appears to have a special relationship with Sheikhov.
David Trilling is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.
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