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Gulnara Karimova Takes The Fight To Twitter (UPDATED)

Gulnara Karimova has weathered criticism of her lifestyle, her father's record on rights, and everything in between -- often expressed on social media by activists and journalists. But this week she took off the digital gloves.
Gulnara Karimova is a controversial figure. Her father, Islam Karimov, is president of one of the most repressive regimes in the world. She has ties to business interests in every corner of the economy in her native Uzbekistan, and is now under investigation by Swiss authorities for shady financial dealings.

In November, authorities in Moscow seized her luxury apartment there in connection with mobile-phone provider MTS's troubles in Uzbekistan, where the company's subsidiary -- at the time the country's largest mobile provider, once partly owned by Karimova -- was shut down abruptly and had its assets seized.

The trials and tribulations have not stopped Karimova from plowing forward with her many high-profile ventures. Her fashion line is pumping out the latest trends. Her new album -- titled "Googoosha" in homage to her alter ego -- is available in the iTunes store. Now, she is in the preproduction phase of a film project about the Silk Road that is set to star Gerard Depardieu.

The French actor was in Uzbekistan for a couple days to check things out, a moment captured by Karimova on her Twitter feed.

Karimova has weathered criticism of her lifestyle, her father's record on rights, and everything in between -- often expressed on social media by activists and journalists. On November 28 and 29, however, Googoosha took off the digital gloves. After a week in which she posted images of herself in yoga poses and a couple of strange postworkout pics, Karimova was graced with a faux Twitter account (a sort of digital merit badge in a way) -- @realbooboosha.

Here are some samples (with translation) of what happened next. In short, academics Sarah Kendzior and Katy Pearce, activist Jillian York, and a couple others found themselves on the receiving end of an e-tongue-lashing by Karimova and her Twitter legions.

TRANSLATION: "I don't understand why some people get inside [eds: interfere] our country without knowing it. I'm more than angry."
TRANSLATION: "You are strong, don't pay attention to the cheap provocateurs"

TRANSLATION: "They are envious of you, our mom, but we are all next to you, we support you. As for them let them go wherever they want to!!!"

What does this whole little episode mean? Twitter spats shouldn't always be taken at face value, but it is notable that Karimova struck out at her critics -- supposed and otherwise -- as she is rarely keen to do so. She usually organizes her events, travels, and projects with a veneer of elegance that, until this week, had remained undisturbed by the litany of complaints and criticisms leveled against her.

-- Zach Peterson

UPDATE: Gulnara Karimova's newfound Twitter enagagement did not end with back-and-forth snark with academics. Over the weekend, she locked horns with Andrew Stroehlein, director of communications for the International Crisis Group (ICG), on the numerous reports of torture in Uzbekistan. Karimova has in the past been loath to publically discuss such heavy matters, as she typically keeps her public profile focused on her social, artistic, and otherwise nonpolitical life. There is no shortage of documentation on cases of torture in Uzbekistan. In December 2011, Human Rights Watch released a report titled, "No One Left to Witness," which documented systematic torture by the police and a lack of of any legal recourse for victims. Amnesty International, The Cotton Campaign, and the U.S. government -- among others -- have issued warnings on rights abuses in the country.

The ICG's Stroehlein, and several others, pointed some of these cases out to Karimova. Below are a few selections from the discussion -- note the cordiality at the end. Head to their respective Twitter timelines to see the whole thing.

-- Zach Peterson

About This Blog

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

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