In 1991 Uzbekistan emerged as a sovereign country after more than a century of Russian rule – first as part of the Russian empire and then as a component of the Soviet Union.

Positioned on the ancient Great Silk Road between Europe and Asia majestic cities such as Bukhara and Samarkand famed for their architectural opulence once flourished as trade and cultural centres. The country’s political system is highly authoritarian and its human rights record widely decried.