Saturday, November 01, 2014


Uzbekistan

Bank Accounts Of Holding Group Linked To Karimova Frozen

Gulnara Karimova, daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov
Gulnara Karimova, daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov
By RFE/RL's Uzbek Service
Reports from Uzbekistan say that the bank accounts of the Terra Group, a media holding company associated with presidential daughter Gulnara Karimova, have been frozen.

Officials at Tashkent-based Infinbank told RFE/RL on October 29 that the Terra Group accounts have been frozen due to investigations into potential financial wrongdoing.

A Terra Group employee confirmed that the company is currently closed, telling RFE/RL that the accounts office was "padlocked." 

The move appears to be the latest strike against Karimova, the eldest daughter of autocratic Uzbek leader Islam Karimov. In recent weeks, she has seen a number of her organizations and media outlets shuttered or put under investigation.

Three radio and four television stations, all controlled by Karimova and used to promote her various business ventures, were taken off the air last week for what officials claimed was basic maintenance.

The TV and radio blackout coincided with the start of Karimova's style.uz art festival in Tashkent, an annual event that usually receives heavy media coverage.

Karimova addressed the shutoffs for the first time on October 30, using Twitter to acknowledge that the Uzbek press agency, citing a list of 12 violations, had shut down her ForumTV, SoFTS, and TV-Markaz-TV television channels.

"However stupid this list may sound, but yes!" Karimova wrote in response to a supporter questioning the disappearance of the channels.

The fourth channel taken off the air, NTT, is owned by an associate of Karimova.

In addition to the media closures, at least two organizations with ties to Karimova, including her Fund Forum charity and the Center for Political Studies think tank, have reportedly come under investigation for alleged tax fraud.

Karimova, 41, has also been dealt a series of personal setbacks in recent weeks.

Her cousin, Akbarali Abdullaev, a powerful oil broker in the Ferghana Valley and a close personal ally, was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of operating an organized crime ring.

Karimova's younger sister, Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, gave a revealing interview last month, telling the BBC's Uzbek Service that she and her sister had not spoken in 12 years and that there were "no family or friendly relations" between them.

Karimova struck back, using Instagram to accuse her sister of embezzlement and of befriending "sorcerers."

She has also expressed worries that their mother, Tatiana Karimova, is dabbling in satanic rituals.

The series of adverse events appears to mark a U-turn in Karimova's political fortunes.

The presidential daughter, a one-time diplomat and aspiring pop star and fashion designer, had been tapped as a possible successor to her 75-year-old father during the country's 2015 elections.

Up until her recent fall from grace, Karimova had received constant coverage in the Uzbek media, fueling speculation she was being groomed to inherit the presidency.

Her ample use of social media -- particularly her colorful, self-referential statements on Twitter -- also made her a rare window into Uzbekistan, a notoriously isolated country with a deplorable record on human rights.

Recent events, however, suggest Karimov may have sidelined his daughter after becoming angry about her role in massive money-laundering investigations in Switzerland, France, and Sweden.

Bolstering rumors of a father-daughter rift, Karimova appeared to compare the Uzbek autocrat to Josef Stalin in a Twitter message on October 29.

"Comrade Stalin was and shall be," Karimova wrote, quoting from "Son of the Father of the Nation," a Soviet-era film. "And he is my father! And so he shall remain until I croak."



With reporting by AFP

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