Uzbek president in intensive care after brain haemorrhage: daughter

2016-08-29 22:28
President Islam Karimov (AP).

President Islam Karimov (AP).

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Moscow - Strongman Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who has dominated the Central Asian nation for over 25 year, is in intensive care after suffering a brain haemorrhage, his younger daughter said on Monday.

"My father was hospitalised after suffering a cerebral haemorrhage on Saturday morning, and is now receiving treatment in an intensive care unit," Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, Uzbekistan's ambassador to Unesco, wrote on Instagram of the 78-year-old leader.

She added that "his condition is considered stable," but that "at the moment it is too early to make any predictions about his future health".

Authoritarian leader Karimov has long been the subject of rumours of ill health that are difficult to verify, since information in the Central Asian country is very tightly controlled.

The former Soviet apparatchik whose brutal crackdown on dissent has been widely criticised by rights groups, has held onto in power in the strategic country bordering Afghanistan since 1989, before it gained independence from Moscow in 1991.

The wily leader has played off Russia, China and the West against each other to keep Uzbekistan from total isolation.

Karimov, who was re-elected to a fifth term in 2015 with more than 90% of the vote, has no obvious successor and the country has never held an election judged free and fair by international monitors.

Possible successors

Those tipped as possible leaders following Karimov include Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov.

The country's powerful security chief Rustam Inoyatov, who has held the post since 1995, has a reputation tainted by violent suppression of protesters and is already 72.

Karimov's elder daughter Gulnara, a flamboyant figure formerly seen as a potential successor, has suffered a spectacular fall from grace after she openly criticised officials and family members on Twitter.

Her father's authorities placed Karimova under house arrest in 2014 after she accused her mother and younger sister of sorcery, compared her father to Stalin and assailed the country's powerful security chief for corruption and harbouring presidential ambitions on Twitter.

Karimov's younger daughter Karimova-Tillyaeva is based in Paris. She revealed in a 2013 interview that she had not spoken to Gulnara for 12 years.

Karimov was raised in an orphanage in the ancient city of Samarkand, before studying mechanical engineering and economics and rising up Communist Party ranks to become head of Soviet Uzbekistan in 1989.

Like the authoritarian leader of neighbouring Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, he led his majority-Muslim country through the transition from the former USSR without any major challenge to his rule.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov and US Secretary of State John Kerry (File, AP).

He has long been lambasted by critics for brutally crushing dissent - most prominently the deadly 2005 response to protests in the city of Andijan death in which government forces are accused of killing hundreds of demonstrators.

In the wake of the international criticism over the alleged massacre, which Karimov's regime rebuffed, Tashkent shut down a US military base used to supply operations in neighbouring Afghanistan since 2001.

The US State Department's 2015 human rights report highlighted Uzbekistan's "torture and abuse of detainees by security forces" and "denial of due process and fair trial".

Amnesty International in a report released in April this year said that there was "overwhelming evidence that torture continues unabated in Uzbekistan".

But Uzbekistan has fiercely denied all the allegations against it and has staved off a complete rupture in relations by balancing the West off against Russia.

US Secretary of State John Kerry met Karimov on a visit to the country in November and Russian President Vladimir Putin last held talks with him in Tashkent in June.

Read more on:    uzbekistan

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