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Death Of Uzbek Teacher 'Forced To Clean Streets' Sparks Controversy

Compelling teachers and medical personnel to do cleaning work is a longstanding practice in Uzbekistan. (illustrative photo)

The death of a schoolteacher who relatives and colleagues say was hit by a truck while cleaning streets in Samarkand ahead of a visit by President Shavkat Mirziyoev, has sparked controversy in tightly controlled Uzbekistan.

Regional officials on March 18 denied reports that 23-year-old Diana Enikeeva had been forced by local authorities to clean the streets in the Qattaqurgon district when she was hit by a truck on March 14.

However, Enikeeva's mother, Oskana Enikeeva, told RFE/RL that her daughter and other teachers were ordered to clean the streets, which is seen as a common practice by local authorities.

Oksana Enikeeva vowed to fight for justice and take local officials to court.

Presidential spokesman Komil Allamjonov said on March 17 that the teacher's death would be thoroughly investigated.

Mirziyoev, who took over Uzbekistan after his autocratic predecessor Islam Karimov's death in 2016, has called on all regional authorities to stop the longstanding practice of compelling teachers and medical personnel to do cleaning work or pick cotton.

The chief of the Education Department in Qattaqurgon district, Alisher Jumaniyazov, told RFE/RL, "Nobody forced them to clean the streets." He declined to comment further.

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