Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Transmission

Gulnara's 2013 Resolutions: Keep Tweeting

Gulnara Karimova has been furiously fighting her corner on social media in recent weeks.
Gulnara Karimova has been furiously fighting her corner on social media in recent weeks.
Last year was a big one for Gulnara Karimova and Twitter. And if the first three days of January are any indication, 2013 will be an active one as well.

The Uzbek president's daughter, widely seen as a critical cog in her father's authoritarian regime and traditionally inaccessible to all but the most pliable media, has engaged in a fresh 140-character-or-less spat with a Western journalist, accusing BBC correspondent Natalia Antelava of "being so easy in lies" and using Karimova's name for "self-PR."

The latest altercation was sparked by Antelava's account, published January 3 on the "New Yorker" website, of an astonishing string of Twitter conversations last month between Karimova, Antelava, and Andrew Stroehlein of the International Crisis Group. Stroehlein, notably, has challenged the first daughter -- so far fruitlessly -- to uphold her pledge to address Uzbekistan's atrocious rights record.

The piece, entitled "Tweets From Gulnara: The Dictator's Daughter," offers a few tantalizing new glimpses into Karimova's inner workings -- including the fact that she considers the phrase "dictator's daughter" an "idiotic line."

It also details attempts to engage Karimova on the question of why Antelava was forcibly deported from the country during a recent reporting trip to speak to female victims of forced sterilization, reportedly part of President Islam Karimov's campaign to stem growth among Uzbekistan's rural population.

Within hours of the piece's publication, Karimova and Antelava were engaged in a head-to-head debate on Twitter. In one tweet, Karimova dismissed as "absurd" Antelava's firsthand account of an Uzbek businessman forced to flee to Kazakhstan after his successful restaurant was seized by authorities, allegedly at Gulnara's behest.

In others, she accuses the BBC journalist of seeking to "dip s-one in dirt" and accepting money "stolen" from Uzbekistan to pen black PR against the Karimovs.

For her part, Antelava pressed Karimova -- whose Fund Forum charity nominally sponsors a number of women's health initiatives -- to address the issue of forced sterilizations, prompting the response: "WOW! How fast we jump from one problem to another! And I'm probably now the Health Minister in our new ever interesting conversation."

Forty-year-old Karimova, a Harvard scholar and career diplomat, concluded the conversation by calling on Antelava to "listen to the hit 'WTF' and relax." (No, we don't know what that means either.)

Antelava, who received dozens of hateful comments from Karimova supporters during the course of their conversation, said she's been consistently surprised at how genuinely sensitive to criticism Uzbekistan's "most hated woman" appears to be.

"She almost sounded disappointed in me and Andrew for picking on her," Antelava said from the Indian city of Delhi, where she is currently based. "She sounded disappointed in what she saw as us being mean."

-- Daisy Sindelar
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Frank from: London
January 04, 2013 21:38
A very interesting article. The combativeness of Ms Karimova suggests she is very confident in not being found out to have received funds that should have gone to the Uzbek State e.g. the alleged $75m payment from Gazprom and the $320m payment made by Teliasonera to the Takilant account that belongs to a company, one of whose shareholders is Ms. Avakyan.

It would be interesting to know if the new routes of Uzbekistan Airways were hitting their break-even passenger load factor given other airlines typically operate very close to it i.e. the sale of just one or two more seats on each flight can mean the difference between profit and loss for an airline.

It is hard to imagine lots of Uzbeks being allowed to buy foreign exchange for holidays in Switzerland unless it is to launder money on behalf of Ms Karimova (Uzbekistan could not even pay for the import of 50,000 tons of 3rd grade milling wheat - see the Romak S.A. arbitral case). The notable thing about the Geneva destination is that one of Ms Karimova's homes is there, as is her sister's.

In all the building works done (See the tower crane that was in operation at No. 7 Chemin de la Prévôté by using Google Satellite), I wonder if a large safe was installed? Does that building have diplomatic status? Can the work men who did the work be questioned as to what they did exactly? Can the diplomatic bag used to contain the loot be collected directly from the Uzbek Airways plane by one of Ms Karimova's cars, given her diplomatic status? How much business does Choppard do with her?

The timing of the release of the yoga photos is interesting too (coincides with all the revelations about Teliasonera).
The freezing of funds by the Swiss authorities will probably impact on the development of Amantaytau phase 2 (it needed about $200m to generate the much coveted hard currency profit stream: the payback period was relatively short). That in turn might have a knock-on effect on the airline, e.g. if it isn't transporting as much gold to Geneva as was previously envisaged.

Just some thoughts.
In Response

by: Frank from: London
January 31, 2013 08:20
The brazen attempt last week to make it look like there weren't forex shortages in Uzbekistan (the open sale of $ at the official rate in some places) and the use of queues of stooges (paid pensioners) to buy them up and hand them over to gangs - perhaps linked to the leadership - for subsequent stripping of the difference between the official rate and black market rate makes me think the regime operates on the policy of the bolder the lie the more likely it is to be believed. I therefore tend to think Gulnara's confidence in coming away from the Teliasonera bribery investigation clean is a sham (it is a very bold sham?). I expect the regime has been stung by observations of the ready availablility of forex in Bishkek so tried to create the same impression in Tashkent to give $ holders the false impression they could convert them into soms without fear of being unable to do the reverse at a very similar rate: after all you would want to convert them into soms at the official rate if you thought there was any problem converting the soms back to dollars at the same rate. My impression of returning Uzbek workers from Russia is that they must be hassled by border officials to convert their roubles at the official rate. Is this in fact the case, I wonder? I imagine yesterday's announcement to stop selling dollars is in preparation for a devaluation of the som (the freezing by the Swedish and Swiss authorities of a lot of dollars belonging to Gulnara must be a factor in the country's dollar shortages (as is the lack of foreign investment due to the business thefts). Another factor may be a ruling that the leadership has to pay Metal-Tech a lot of money for its stolen business: the arbitral ruling is due in February. Just my thoughts. The way Gulnara and Lola appear to have circumvented the Swiss rules about the money having to be shown to be clean before you can buy property in Switzerland makes me wonder whether they are fit to represent their country as UN and Unesco representatives. Do they do any work there for their salaries? What have they achieved for their country in those roles?

by: Islam Karimov from: Tashkent
January 05, 2013 03:01
'Sup, dawgs. Straight up, I do NOT know this chick. She just kinda showed up one afternoon back in '90 when the hammer & sickle were still on the office stationery. She seemed harmless and nice enough, tidied up the place, made OK tushpera and kabobs, and lightened the mood with funny accents (Inspector Clouseau, Keanu, Travis Bickle, etc.) It was only around the millennium she started the "daughter" story. Again, weird but harmless. I only got suspicious after the whole Zeromax thing (talk about embarrassing!) but by then it had taken on a life of its own, and now I can't get rid of her. Help! Vova! Nursultan! Turkmenbashi Jr. or whatever the hell your name is. Anybody!
In Response

by: Daniyar from: Bradford
January 05, 2013 11:33
Good one, Karimov. Now if you could only explain what happened in 2005...

by: Fabian from: Germany
January 05, 2013 10:41
for explanation WTF (Loca People) is a trashy European disco dance song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b31Sc_0woFk

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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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