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Uzbek 'Princess' Becomes Ambassador In Geneva



Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of the Uzbek president, dubbed the "Uzbek princess," has been appointed as the country's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva.

Uzbek Foreign Ministry officials were quoted this week as saying Karimova took up the post in September and is currently working in Geneva. The UN confirmed that Karimova had been appointed.

The 36-year-old Harvard-educated daughter of President Islam Karimov is a major political and business figure in Uzbekistan, as well as a singer and poet.

She has reportedly amassed a multimillion-dollar fortune using her family connections. Her assets reportedly include bank and investments holdings in Dubai and Geneva, a retail complex, nightclubs, and a holiday resort in her native Uzbekistan. She is the head of the Uzbekistan-based Zeromax Group, which is involved in the country's mining, gas, and oil industries.

In the past, Karimova has only acknowledged being involved in jewelry design and a mobile-phone company. She is officially in charge of a number of humanitarian organizations and promotes art, youth education, and sports.

The "Uzbek princess" made international headlines in 2002 after her acrimonious divorce with her Afghan-American husband Mansur Maqsudi. A wealthy businessman by his own rights, Maqsudi was granted by a U.S. court sole custody of the couple's two children.

Long before the court hearing, however, Karimova had taken the children to Uzbekistan and did not appear in the U.S. court hearings. Her actions led to a warrant being issued in the United States for her arrest.

Critics of the Uzbek president say that by appointing his eldest daughter to a diplomatic post, Karimov is interested in protecting and legitimizing his family's fortune.

Swiss-based Uzbek journalist Alisher Taksanov told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service that "as Zeromax is registered and based in Switzerland, it would be easier for Karimova to control the company in Geneva."

If everything falls apart, Karimov could join his daughter and live in Geneva. The Uzbek president already has family in the area. His other daughter, Lola, has been appointed Uzbekistan's representative to UNESCO in Paris.

-- Farangis Najibullah

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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