"We have a report that in 2000, when [Mirziyaev] was [Jizzakh] regional governor, he beat up a math teacher because the students of that teacher were apparently picking cotton too slowly," Steven Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch (HRW), told RFE/RL's Majlis podcast. "He's known for his fiery temper...[and] for being a very tough personality."
The Mirziyaev administration's attitude so far toward pluralism and the media -- in a country where Karimov scrupulously suppressed journalist's freedom and freedom of speech -- has been hostile.
In November, Uzbek authorities detained and expelled Russian journalist Yekaterina Saineva of Moskovskiy Komsomolets and German freelancer Edda Schlager in separate cases.
Shortly after Mirziyaev took over as interim president, RFE/RL accused the government of targeting the family members of journalists working for RFE/RL's Uzbek Service.
While a mass prisoner amnesty in September came as little surprise in a region where such releases are routine, Uzbekistan's freeing of three men whom rights groups regard as political prisoners raised hopes among even Mirziyaev's doubters. Those released included Murod Juraev, who was set free on November 12 after serving 21 years on what rights groups say were trumped-up charges.
"[Mirziyaev] will not grant freedom to the media or allow the opposition members who are abroad [to] reform elections," said the exiled Mohammad. "We cannot talk today about real democracy [coming] to Uzbekistan."