Islam Karimov President Of Uzbekistan Dies Aged 78

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Scepticalscribe, Sep 2, 2016.

  1. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    I debated starting this in the "Current Affairs" section, but - after some thought - came to the conclusion that PRSI is possibly more appropriate for this topic.

    Rumours about the President's health had spread over the past week or so, as he had disappeared from public view, and was thought to have suffered a serious stroke, with some sources suggesting that he had suffered a brain haemorrhage. Some rumours had suggested that he was close to death, or in a vegetative state. In any case, this evening, the death has been announced of Islam Karimov, President of Uzbekistan.

    In common with a number of the first generation of post Soviet leaders - some of the other leaders in what are sometimes loosely referred to as 'the stans' (those central Asian states that used to be a part of the old USSR, namely Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan), - Mr Karimov came to power as First Secretary of the Communist Party in Uzbekistan prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and stayed at the helm when the USSR itself collapsed, becoming the newly independent country's first President.
    Over a period of time, what his country experienced as his rule became legendarily controlling and quite extraordinarily repressive, even by the less than stellar standards of some of the other states in the region.

    While western observers sometimes see 'the stans' as a monolith, a belt, or swath, of autocratic states stretching across the political and cultural underbelly of modern Russia, they are not the same. Some are better (Kyrgyzstan comes to mind) and some are a lot worse, (Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan contend for this dubious honour).

    Traditionally, this was a relatively secular state - especially in the urban areas - but while some rural areas may have been more devout, the Government has cracked down hard, and at times, exceedingly repressively, at those who identify closely - or publicly - with Islam.

    As with all autocracies, even more so, as with all dictatorships, and most of all with newly independent countries that have become repressive dictatorships, the question of securing - and managing - the succession will offer something of a challenge.

    It is entirely possible that the death of the President was not publicly announced until certain arrangements deemed necessary had already been put in place.

    Meanwhile, the elder of the two daughters of the late President, at one time thought of as a possible successor, - and certainly thought of as an ambitious individual who may have entertained such dreams - has been under house arrest since 2014.

    Interesting times ahead in the region.
  2. b0fh666 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 12, 2012
  3. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
    Good for who?
  4. LizKat macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2004
    Catskill Mountains
    Well... the president of Uzbekistan had seemed a little less flashy than had a couple of the ones in Turkmenistan. Not sure if that was comforting to Uzbeks, or not. The people of Turkmenistan seemed to like the gold-plated version of Berdymukhamedov astride horse...

    One hopes the transition in Uzbekistan will be peaceful at any rate. The Economist had a rather gloomy take on probable outcome for this troubled country (they had not updated the piece yet to reflect confirmation of Karimov's death but had notes about possible successors)

    As their tyrant nears his end, the people of Uzbekistan hold their breath


    Spooks and stalwarts

    Two long-serving insiders probably have better chances: Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the prime minister, and Rustam Azimov, his deputy, though some say Mr Azimov has been arrested. Others say that Rustam Inoyatov, head of the National Security Service, the country’s most powerful and most fearsome institution, will be the final arbiter and that he may arrange for a dark horse to emerge.

    Whoever succeeds him, Mr Karimov will bequeath a troubled legacy. Though Uzbekistan is the most populous of the “stans”, with 31m people and plenty of minerals, and was once widely considered the most hopeful, it has become an economic basket-case, riddled with corruption and run along Soviet lines. A black market flourishes. Foreign investors are deterred by a history of assets grabbed. Vested interests in Tashkent rake in the cash from exports of gas, gold and cotton (reaped by a million forced labourers every year), while ordinary Uzbeks struggle to get by. Many depend on remittances from migrants to Russia, but these are dwindling as recession bites there, too.

    Whoever succeeds Mr Karimov has an unenviable choice. He (or conceivably she) could use the same brutal methods to stem the torrent of disaffection that may burst forth after his demise, or he could loosen up a little and risk being swept away in a deluge of popular anger. Many analysts are pessimistic. “The system that Karimov built can continue after him, self-replicating regardless of who sits at the top,” says Daniil Kislov, editor of Ferghana News. “There will not be a thaw.”
  5. Mac'nCheese macrumors 68040


    Feb 9, 2010
  6. Scepticalscribe thread starter Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Yes, I had read the Economist piece when it was published, - thanks for quoting from it - and, in essence, I suppose you could argue that political stability was secured at the expense of suppression of rights, human, civil and basic.

    The country is potentially very wealthy, with ample mineral wealth, along with oil and gas. However, the hopes of the 90s have long since evaporated.
  7. LizKat macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2004
    Catskill Mountains
    The LA Times has a followup piece about Karimov’s funeral and what might come next.


    Suspicious of any potential rival, Karimov did not name a successor. According to the constitution, his responsibilities will pass to the head of the Senate until elections are held within three months.

    But such votes have always been a foregone conclusion. Karimov’s only challenger in 2000, Abdulkhafiz Dzhalalov, said he voted for Karimov.

    The Senate leader, Nigmatulla Yuldashev, is not seen as a contender for permanent office.

    Also out of the running is Karimov’s oldest daughter, a high-profile businesswoman, fashion designer and pop singer who fell from grace around 2013 after being accused of pocketing bribes in connection with telecom licenses in Uzbekistan. In social media posts at the time, she lashed out at top officials in her father’s government and accused her mother and sister of being friends with sorcerers.

    The opacity of the presidential selection process has some analysts dusting off the old Soviet playbook to try to figure out who might become the country’s new leader.

    A key signal could be the selection of Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev, rumored to be the Kremlin favorite, to oversee Saturday’s funeral.

    “In the Soviet period, the person who was chairman of the funeral commission was the successor,” said William Courtney, a Eurasia specialist at the Rand Corp. who served as the U.S. ambassador to Georgia and Kazakhstan. “Things are so Soviet-like in Uzbekistan, that may be a tipoff.”
    Have to love the part about the house-arrested daughter carrying on in 2013 about her mother and sister being "friends with sorcerers". Political Islam still seems to haul out that charge as a convenient way of dispatching threats to one's own ascension. The Saudis still carrry sorcery as a capital charge even though they provide no legal definition of it.
  8. Scepticalscribe thread starter Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    I have been reading quite a bit about this over the past few days.

    There seems to have been a power struggle in the Ruling Family, which led to the complete downfall of the oldest daughter, who was placed under house arrest, and has since disappeared from sight. She wasn't present at the funeral, and some sources (the BBC) have asked whether she still lives.

    The BBC is banned there, - and is also banned from reporting from there - and a report dispatched from Al Jazeera - which I watched - was broadcast from Bishkek, the capital of neighbouring Kyrgyzstan (which has an unusually open media, society and political system for the region)

    Much of the coverage - in both print and on TV - seemed to suggest that some sort of agreement will be reached between the 'clans' who represent the two main power centres (which also represent the two major urban centres, Tashkent, and Samarkand).

    Indeed, some of the coverage appeared to argue that the death of the dictator was not announced until some sort of agreement had been sketched out between these two - potentially competing - groups.

    While in the former Soviet world, the individual charged with - or given the task of - organising the funeral of a deceased leader - in this instance, Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev - would usually be considered to be the front runner in any succession stakes (and it is also relevant to note that Mr Mirziyoyev is viewed as the 'leader' of the 'Samarkand' 'clan', which would serve as his power base - the late Mr Karimov had also hailed from Samarkand and was buried there), this is not always a certainty.

    From what I have read, there are two others in the mix, both representing the 'other' clan, the 'Tashkent' 'clan'. These are the man who currently holds the position of First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Rustem Azimov, who has ties to the 'Tashkent' clan. Rumours have been swirling over the past few days, with some suggesting that he might have been placed under house arrest.

    However, the head of the "Tashkent clan" is considered to be hugely powerful and to wield considerable influence; this is Mr Rustam Inoyatov, the head of the National Security Service (the security services, not least the secret police), who is also said to be close to the widow of the deceased President, Tatyana Karimova, who, herself, is also considered pretty influential.

    A rupture in the ruling family in 2013 - which erupted into the public domain - led to the downfall of the deceased president's powerful and wealthy older daughter, Gulnara Karimova, who at one time was thought to have been groomed for the succession. Her mother and sister were certainly lined up against her, and the President sided with them, against the person who was thought to have been his favourite daughter, before he came to the conclusion that her activities (financial and otherwise) humiliated him and hugely hurt Uzbekistan's image abroad.

    Corruption scandals, - involving extraordinary sums of money and dodgy telecom deals - which were thought by the President to have damaged Uzbekisatn's image internationally (details had emerged in the US and Switzerland) that, and an attempted accumulation of power may well have contributed to her downfall.

    She had combined business, politics, modelling, singing, and telecoms among other stuff. A range of fragrances that she launched - you couldn't make this up! - had names such as "Crush Dissent" for men, and "Dictatoress" for women.

    Of course, the country - which should be exceptionally wealthy, it has oil, gas, mineral wealth in abundance - has one of the most shocking records for human rights abuses, and is considered - with the possible exception of Turkmenistan - to be easily the most repressive in the region.
  9. Solomani macrumors 68040


    Sep 25, 2012
    Alberto, Canado
    The CIA needs to act fast! Quick CIA, hurry up and set up an American friendly puppet-regime over there! Hurry up while there's still a political vacuum! Take Sasha Baron Cohen with you if you must!

  10. LizKat, Sep 12, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2016

    LizKat macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2004
    Catskill Mountains
    Well something has got settled by *somebody*, apparently, as there has now been installed one Shavkat Miromonovich Mirziyoyev as interim President.

    Apparently the interim ascension was on slightly shaky constitutional grounds:

    Under Article 96 of the constitution, Senate chairman Nigmatilla Yuldashev should have been installed as temporary leader, serving as a caretaker until a special election could be held. The vote is also mandated to take place within three months of the incumbent’s death or incapacitation. Yuldashev did occupy the role for the shortest of time, receiving notes of condolence for Karimov’s death from Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

    But on September 8, Yuldashev ostensibly relinquished of his own accord his claim to his constitutionally guaranteed role. In making way to Mirziyoyev, Yuldashev appealed to what he described the new interim leader’s many years of experience in leading government positions and his “standing among the population.”
    It seeems meant to imply stability regarding current international outllooks.

    On his first day in charge in Uzbekistan, Shavkat Miromonovich Mirziyoyev made it clear that he does not intend to make any immediate breaks from the policies of his deceased predecessor.

    Mirziyoyev was formally appointed Uzbekistan’s interim president on September 8, assuming power from Islam Karimov, whose death was announced six days earlier. In a speech to a joint session of parliament on September 9, the 59-year old interim president reaffirmed Uzbekistan’s policy of rejecting membership in international military alliances and hosting military bases.

    At the same time, Mirziyoyev spoke about the priority of developing relations with the Commonwealth of Independent States — the post-Soviet space dominated by Moscow — and the “consistent and comprehensive strengthening of friendly relations with the Russian Federation.”

    This deal was apparently not looked on favorably by some; perhaps no surprise there. The open disapproval from a quoted Uzbek journalist is interesting although the second part of his statement sounded like he's relaying a party position. But the second guy, who mentioned "unconstitutional measures" was writing from France. At a slight remove, as they say.

    Uzbek journalist Elparid Hadjayev said that many in Uzbekistan had expected a more “civilized” transition.

    “I think that Nigmatilla Yuldashev would have felt very uncomfortable in the position of interim president. His is not a popular figure [and] most people in the country don’t know him. Clearly that is why they picked a person that is in control of the situation in the country,” Hadjayev told

    Writing on his Facebook page from France, Uzbek political analyst Kamoliddin Rabimov predicted that Uzbekistan was in for some difficult times.

    “The new authorities have begun their course with unconstitutional measures. The authorities should think of their reputation and about their legitimacy in the eyes of the people, otherwise they will not be able to solve urgent problems of state,” Rabimov wrote.

    The Mirziyoyev appointment apparently has meant that Rustam Asimov may have been shunted aside permanently. I didn't see any reference to Rustam Inoyatov in this piece but there was reference to him as contender in an article in Yahoo news, which also noted that Putin had pledged to Mirziyoyev intent to maintain friendly ties and a focus on stability. Stability, yes... Maybe Inoyatov will pop up as more of a contender or at least be accounted for later on as time for the election approaches.

    One curious theory was offered to Russian state news agency Sputnik by an unnamed Uzbek political analyst. The analysts suggested that Mirziyoyev’s ascendancy means a likely end to the political fortunes of another figure named as a possible successor to Karimov — deputy prime minister and finance minister Rustam Azimov.

    “Azimov was a confidant to Karimov in the government; he was his eyes and ears. He told him everything that was going on there. He wasn’t liked for that, and Mirziyoyev didn’t like him for that,” the analyst told Sputnik. “I think that until the elections the president will make no sharp moves, but after the election he will pack Azimov off somewhere as an ambassador, maybe in one of the Benelux countries.”
    It doesn't sound like sweetness and light, and "biz as usual" seems more the case. There has to be a special election to put up the new president within three months. I guess it's about stay tuned for the intrigues to shake out. I read somewhere that Mirziyoyev is considered very conservative, pro-Russia, pro-China, not so much favoring western relationships.

    A caustic early assessment of Mirziyoyev came in 2003 from a political commentator known as Usmon Khaknazarov, when the now-interim president was still the governor of his native Samarkand region.

    “You could call Mirziyoyev a young Karimov. He is similar to the president in every way. During his stint as the governor of Jizzakh region, he regularly made a public show of beating up the heads of district administrations. He continues the practice of vicious beatings to this day in his job as governor of Samarkand,” Khaknazarov wrote.

    Khaknazarov was always described as a political analyst, although he is believed by some to be a composite figure of government critics.

    Others point to Mirziyoyev’s family ties as a clue. His niece was married to Babur Usmanov, the nephew and one-time dauphin of Uzbek-Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov. Babur Usmanov died in a motor accident in Tashkent a few years ago, but relations between the billionaire and the interim president are said to still be warm. All this is presumed to be indicative of Mirziyoyev’s marked pro-Russian leanings, although the link is tenuous.
    I wonder what will change, if anything out in the Karakalpakstan autonomous republic; I got interested in that area after seeing that sort of strange documentary "The Desert of Forbidden Art" about the museum that ended up out in that region as a putatively safe place to put the art the museum's founder/collector rounded up while attempts were being made to suppress the local cultures of Central Asia during the Soviet era. Uzbekistan and its autonomous region and capital city are all fascinating to me. The idea of being doubly landlocked and remote to begin with makes it unique. Just out there, waiting for... Godot? ;)
  11. Scepticalscribe thread starter Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Excellent and interesting post.

    Doubly land-locked, remote, and very historic. It is a fascinating part of the world.

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