The Uzbek president's eldest daughter, Gulnara Karimova, has rarely broached the idea of succeeding her aging father, Islam Karimov – at least publicly. But the idea has cropped up repeatedly in an interview that appeared this month with a celebrity publicist.
Las Vegas-based Peter Allman, whose website describes him as “Celebrity Interviewer To The Stars and Emcee,” set the sycophantic tone right from the start: "My special guest is a visionary, very talented, very politically oriented young lady. I call her 'the princess of Uzbekistan,' if you will," he said in his introduction to the 38-minute-long exclusive, recorded on the sidelines of the Golden Guepard Tashkent International Film Forum last autumn, and since March 7 available on YouTube.
After a long chat about Karimova's charitable and creative work, Allman compared Karimova – who is also known by her stage name, Googoosha – to the late Princess Diana: "I've talked to many people. When I first met you I told you that I thought you'd be princess of Uzbekistan, meaning, like, Princess Diana was to Great Britain. And I see that you, as I imagine, have a very good soul and care about people, and that's very important."
Then he slid into the six-million-dollar question. In Allman’s “vision” Karimova would be a great president: “What are your feelings about that?"
Karimova – appearing in a black business suit and dangly silver earrings – giggled and said, in English, "this is funny," adding that both her opponents and supporters call her "princess," which is "striking for me because I'm not trying to do it for sort of career or for PR."
After a digression about how she turned to the arts after a difficult divorce, Allman – who rents out his services online – asked again: "That's why I see how good you are for your country and that's why I asked you, 'How would you feel if you were president of Uzbekistan?'"
Karimova: “Well, probably, I will not be able to answer this question before I will try it [laughs]. So I'm comfortable where I am right now and I am a person who doesn't really, doesn't really take steps before there's an assurance to be able to do a certain project.”
In recent weeks, Karimova seems to have launched a campaign to limit the damage from mounting allegations she is connected to two multi-million-dollar corruption investigations in Europe. In an interview with Swiss magazine Bilan, also published on March 7, she complained that her “enemies” were taking advantage of the formidable allegations to undermine her reputation and that the “attacks” were distracting her from her charitable work.
The choice of Peter Allman, little known outside Las Vegas, looks like part of that damage-control campaign. His website, “Pete Allman’s Celebrity Scene News,” rents out celebrity endorsements for "a minimum of $10,000 and up." It does not list the price for his personal endorsement, though a 2011 advertisement says his video interviews start at just $700.