Protests break out in Uzbek autonomous region
A rare public protest took place in Uzbekistan's Karakalpakstan autonomous republic over a planned constitutional reform that would change its status, Uzbek authorities said on Saturday.
Karakalpakstan, located in northwestern Uzbekistan, is home to Karakalpaks, a distinct ethnic minority group with its own language, and the current Uzbek constitution describes it as a sovereign republic within Uzbekistan that has the right to secede by holding a referendum.
The new version of the constitution - on which Uzbekistan plans to hold a referendum in the coming months - would no longer mention Karakalpakstan's sovereignty or right for secession.
According to Uzbekistan's Interior Ministry, "as a result of misunderstanding the constitutional reforms" a group of Karakalpakstan residents marched through its capital Nukus and held a rally at the city's central market on Friday.