Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of health, A/HRC/17/25/Add.1, 16 May 2011: Uzbekistan
352. On 11 May 2010, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression sent a joint allegation letter to the Government of Uzbekistan concerning the sentencing of Mr. Maxim Popov, psychologist, founder and director of the non-governmental organization Izis, founded by young medical professionals which works on HIV/AIDS prevention. Izis has also implemented HIV prevention activities, including under contracts with UNICEF, UNFPA and UNAIDS.
353. According to the information received, Mr. Maxim Popov was arrested in January 2009 and convicted in July 2009. His conviction was publicly disclosed only at the end of February 2010. Mr. Popov was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment for charges which included theft by embezzlement, concealment of foreign currency, tax evasion, inducing minors to antisocial behaviour, indecent assault without violence against a minor and inducing engagement in the use of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances.
354. It was believed that Mr. Popov was convicted in connection with writing and distributing HIV/AIDS prevention materials. Mr. Maxim Popov was the author of the brochure “HIV and AIDS today”, a publication funded by UNAIDS and UNICEF. He was also convicted for distributing HIV prevention materials published by UNAIDS and other UN agencies to adolescents that explicitly referred to drug use, sex work and homosexuality.
355. Concern was expressed that the arrest and sentencing of Mr. Maxim Popov may be related to his peaceful activities in defence of human rights, in particular his work on HIV/AIDS
356. On 30 June 2010, the Government of Uzbekistan replied to the joint allegation letter sent on 11 May 2010. It provided information on IZIS and on Mr. Popov.
357. With regard to IZIS, the Government indicated that in the course of the checks conducted to ensure that the aims of the organisation were in accordance with the law, it was found that the requirements of the statute had been breached and that there had been violations of Uzbek law, some of them of a criminal nature. The materials of the verification process were handed over to the public prosecutor’s office and criminal charges were brought against IZIS. The criminal court found Mr. Popov to be guilty and subsequently the Tashkent Civil Court accepted the application for IZIS to be dissolved.
358. Concerning Mr. Popov, the Court ruled that he had abused his official position as director of IZIS by embezzling large sums of money that were supposed to be used for projects related to IZIS. Notably, Mr. Popov and his chief accountant Mr. Kostyuchenko, embezzled funds provided by UNICEF regional office, UNDP, the Regional Management Board of the Central Asia AIDS Control Project etc. Besides, Mr. Popov misappropriated material goods placed in his charge, of a total value of a 193,100 sum.
359. The Government added that Mr. Popov distributed a book in Uzbek education establishments attended by schoolchildren and students engaging in academic, sporting or communal activities, which promoted the use of narcotic drugs and antisocial behaviour among the young. The Government considered that Mr. Popov was well aware of the nature of the book’s content. The book contained texts instructing young people of sexual activities and propaganda for homosexuality, pornography and pornographic images.
360. As a result Mr. Popov was found guilty and sentenced to seven years imprisonment and stripped him of the right to hold any office involving the direction of an organization or economic administration for two years.
361. The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government for its response received on 30 June 2010.
Link to full text of the report: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/17session/A.HRC.17.25.Add.1_EFS_only.pdf