Uzbekistan: Suspended artists and instrument bans

11 August 2016

Ever-tightening restrictions on musicians and artists continue to take their toll in Uzbekistan as state-run arts association Uzbeknavo revoked the licenses of three pop artists for holding performances abroad to lacklustre audience numbers, reported Uzbek news outlet UZ24 on 20 July 2016.

Uzbeknavo license department head Odiljon Abdukahhar said the association stripped singers Sitora Farmonova, Sarvara Azimova and Komila Fazylova of their licenses because there were “repeated occurrences” of them being unable to draw crowds of between 200-250 people at their foreign shows, which according to him “greatly harms the reputation of Uzbek pop art”. According to him, such an occurrence “violates the rules and conditions of the license agreement”.

This latest broad sweep of suspending singers comes on the heels of new, tighter conditions placed on performers that took effect on 1 January 2016, which seek to ensure that the artists conform to the “country’s spiritual, cultural and national values” as the Uzbek government cited a swath of songs, videos and concerts that did not live up to “age-old spiritual and cultural values and national traditions”.

Banning instruments from being filmed
Further, there has been a ban placed on showing the “tar” string instrument on tv or in music videos as officials believe it is not part of traditional Uzbek music, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on 31 July 2016.

The verbal instructions came “from above”, and according to an anonymous official at the ministry of culture and sports who spoke to RFE/RL, people could still play the instrument at home or at small local concerts that won’t be filmed, and confirmed that the tar is no longer on the ministry’s list of instruments.

RFE/RL also discovered that the accordion is also listed as a “non-Uzbek” instrument and thus will also not be allowed to be used in televised performances of Uzbek songs.


» Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – 31 July 2016:
Play Uzbek music, but only with Uzbek instruments

» Eurasianet – 21 July 2016:
Uzbekistan tells its pop stars: Stay at home

» UZ24 – 20 July 2016:
“Uzbeknavo” deprives licenses of three artists

» Eurasianet – 16 June 2016:
Uzbekistan: Pop stars under scrutiny for producing immoral, unpatriotic material

More from Freemuse

» 20 April 2016: Uzbekistan: The naked truth about state censorship

» 18 December 2015: Uzbekistan: Musicians regulated to conform to ‘national values’

» 6 May 2014: Uzbekistan: Singer speaks out on oppression in atmosphere of dissent

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