Two of the most despotic leaders in the world sit atop the governments of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, according to rights groups. But in sharp contrast to the way they regard their respective peoples, Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and Uzbekistan’s Islam Karimov seem to treat each other with courtesy and respect when they get together.
Already embroiled in a public family feud and facing an unprecedented attack on her business empire, fresh trouble is enveloping Gulnara Karimova. The once-omnipotent daughter of Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov is becoming entangled in an investigation into the alleged kidnapping of one of her employees almost a year ago.
For months state-run media propaganda in Uzbekistan has warned about the supposedly detrimental effects of foreign media and culture on young people. Now President Islam Karimov’s administration seems intent on trying to legislate morality.
For years, Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of Uzbek strongman Islam Karimov, courted the media spotlight, whether as an aspiring pop diva, purveyor of haute couture or a jet-setting football groupie.
The outward signs in Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital, suggest nothing out of the ordinary is going on. But whether or not Uzbek strongman Islam Karimov has experienced a serious heart attack, as some reports suggest, the episode highlights the fact that no clear-cut succession plan is in place.
Uzbekistan is a land almost synonymous with Oriental bazaars. Yet shoppers in Central Asia’s most populous state are hesitantly embracing the shopping mall – at least in the capital, Tashkent. The change in consumer habits seems partially connected to government efforts to pad state coffers.
Uzbekistan has introduced sweeping new banking and import regulations that appear designed to keep hard currency from leaving the country. Observers say residents and entrepreneurs should expect a bumpy ride in the coming months, as the cumbersome new measures are expected to drive up prices for basic goods and encourage an expansion of the shadow economy.
Newly released documents appear to make a connection between executives from a Swedish company accused of bribing its way into Uzbekistan’s telecoms market and Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of the country’s strongman, Islam Karimov.