Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gulnara Karimova: The Single Most Hated Person in Uzbekistan

"[Leaked State Department] dispatches [from Uzbekistan] focus on the behaviour of [President Islam] Karimov's glamorous and highly controversial daughter Gulnara, who is bluntly described by them as 'the single most hated person in the country' ... The US diplomats paint a harsh picture of overall life in Uzbekistan, largely corroborating allegations made by the former UK ambassador Craig Murray, who was forced out of his job in 2004 after denouncing the regime."---U.K. Guardian (12-12-10)

The U.K. Guardian (12-12-10) has published an article based on leaked U.S. State Department cables sent from Uzbekistan. I've read more detailed accounts of "First Daughter" Gulnara Karimova from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty here, here, and here.

The Guardian describes Uzbekistan's corrupt "first family" but does not mention that President Karimov's daughter Gulnara is reportedly close to the notorious Uzbeki Gazprom mogul Alisher Usmanov, who owns the Kremlin-friendly Kommersant newspaper. Perhaps the relationship between Karimova and Usmanov will turn up in the links, but U.K. journalists are reluctant to write about Usmanov in the U.K. because he sues people. The Guardian (11-19-07) did get Alisher Usmanov to respond to some questions via e-mail.

Virginia's global warming denialist Attorney General Cuccinelli cites an English version of a Kommersant article in his suit against the EPA. The article defames British climate scientists. That's not in Wikileaks. That's right in Attorney General Cuccinelli's footnotes.

The former U.K. diplomat Craig Murray has already penned some pretty devastating and undiplomatic tirades about Alisher Usmanov and Uzbekistan's hated "first daughter" Gulnara Karimova.

Craig Murray (9-2-07) writes:

Usmanov has two key alliances. He is very close indeed to President Karimov, and especially to his daughter Gulnara. It was Usmanov who engineered the 2005 diplomatic reversal in which the United States was kicked out of its airbase in Uzbekistan and Gazprom took over the country's natural gas assets. Usmanov, as chairman of Gazprom Investholdings paid a bribe of $88 million to Gulnara Karimova to secure this. This is set out on page 366 of Murder in Samarkand.

Alisher Usmanov had risen to chair of Gazprom Investholdings because of his close personal friendship with Putin, He had accessed Putin through Putin's long time secretary and now chef de cabinet, Piotr Jastrzebski. Usmanov and Jastrzebski were roommates at college. Gazprominvestholdings is the group that handles Gazprom's interests outside Russia, Usmanov's role is, in effect, to handle Gazprom's bribery and sleaze on the international arena, and the use of gas supply cuts as a threat to uncooperative satellite states.

Gazprom has also been the tool which Putin has used to attack internal democracy and close down the independent media in Russia. Gazprom has bought out - with the owners having no choice - the only independent national TV station and numerous rgional TV stations, several radio stations and two formerly independent national newspapers. These have been changed into slavish adulation of Putin. Usmanov helped accomplish this through Gazprom. The major financial newspaper, Kommersant, he bought personally. He immediately replaced the editor-in-chief with a pro-Putin hack, and three months later the long-serving campaigning defence correspondent, Ivan Safronov, mysteriously fell to his death from a window.

All this, both on Gazprom and the journalist's death, is set out in great detail here.

The U.K. Guardian (12-12-10) reports:

The post-Soviet state of Uzbekistan is a nightmarish world of "rampant corruption", organised crime, forced labour in the cotton fields, and torture, according to the leaked cables.

But the secret dispatches released by WikiLeaks reveal that the US tries to keep President Islam Karimov sweet because he allows a crucial US military supply line to run into Afghanistan, known as the northern distribution network (NDN).

Many dispatches focus on the behaviour of Karimov's glamorous and highly controversial daughter Gulnara, who is bluntly described by them as "the single most hated person in the country".

She allegedly bullied her way into gaining a slice of virtually every lucrative business in the central Asian state and is viewed, they say, as a "robber baron". Granted diplomatic status by her father, Gulnara allegedly lives much of the time in Geneva, where her holding company, Zeromax, was registered at the time, or in Spain.

She also sings pop songs, designs jewellery and is listed as a professor at Tashkent's University of World Economy and Diplomacy...

"Most Uzbeks see Karimova as a greedy, power-hungry individual who uses her father to crush business people or anyone else who stands in her way … She remains the single most hated person in the country." [Read all of this interesting article.]

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