Karakalpakstan is on fire and blood, in the true sense of the term.

This autonomous province of Uzbekistan saw violent protests on Saturday, as the former Soviet republic cracked down hard on any opposition.

A state of emergency was declared and President Shavkat Mirzioev himself made a speech from Karakalpakstan.

"Several groups tried to take control of buildings of the Department of Internal Affairs in the city of Nukus - the capital of Karakalpakstan, editor's note - and of the Department of the National Guard in order to obtain weapons", he denounced .

“Unfortunately, there are victims among civilians and among the police,” he acknowledges, accusing the organizers of the demonstrations of “hiding behind slogans”.

"Taking advantage of the fact that there were more of them, these men attacked police officers, who were beaten and seriously injured," he said.

He did not specify the number of victims, nor indicated whether they were dead or injured.

Videos of the clashes with the police show people who seem injured or unconscious, raising fears of a heavy human toll.

Reform of the Constitution aborted

This is the most serious internal crisis facing the Uzbek president since he came to power in 2016. "Organizers of the riots" have been arrested, said the police, without giving further details.

Two Nukus residents said a small group attempting to protest on Saturday evening, for the second night in a row, had been dispersed by security forces.

According to these witnesses who requested anonymity, the police seem to have used tear gas and smoke grenades.

Faced with the demonstrations, Chavkat Mirzioev had to give up a draft constitutional amendment.

This amendment would have reduced the degree of autonomy of the republic populated by 2 million people, one of the poorest in the country.

With the proposed revision of the Constitution, the presidential term would also increase from five to seven years, to the benefit of the current head of state.

An Uzbek representative, Bobur Bekmurodov, denounced images posted on Twitter showing men in uniform walking in a street covered in red liquid.

“Friends, do not join these shameful provocations.

Check the information.

It's just red colored water.

Please let the truth be known!

“, he tweeted.

Other videos of water cannons using the orange-red water have also surfaced, with some talking about rivers of blood.


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