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Uzbek Authorities Deny Reports Of Gulnara Karimova's Release, Dubai Hotel Stay


Gulnara Karimova in September 2010 in New York City
Gulnara Karimova in September 2010 in New York City

Uzbekistan's Prosecutor-General's Office has denied a report that Gulnara Karimova, the imprisoned daughter of deceased former President Islam Karimov, has been freed from state custody and has checked into a luxury hotel in Dubai.

The office told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service on October 3 that Karimova "is serving her sentence in Uzbekistan according to the law."

The denial followed an RFE/RL report the same day that a person named Gulnara Karimova, accompanied by an entourage and security guards, had booked several rooms in the five-star hotel in Dubai.

The investigative report was based on an image, sent to RFE/RL by an anonymous source who worked at the hotel, that purportedly showed information from the hotel's internal guest-information system. The image showed a computer screen that featured Karimova's photograph, profile, and booking information.

The page featured what appeared to be an older photo of Karimova -- a once high-flying socialite, diplomat, entrepreneur, and pop singer who was jailed in 2015 on a host of corruption charges -- and text that described the guest as "Gulnara Karimova...the elder daughter of Islam Karimov.”

A hotel manager, speaking anonymously, later told RFE/RL that the image sent to RFE/RL indeed showed a page from its internal guest-information system, but that the data was inaccurate.

"As far as I know, the woman who arrived at our hotel yesterday is not a president's daughter," the manager said by telephone. "This is a different Gulnara Karimova."

The manager explained that the inaccurate information entered into the system was due to a "mistake."

RFE/RL determined the number of the room occupied by the person with the name of Gulnara Karimova, and reached the room by phone. A woman answered the phone and responded affirmatively when asked if she was Gulnara. The person then hung up.

The development came just days after an unverified Instagram account purportedly maintained by Karimova's daughter, Iman Karimova, featured a series of posts indicating that she was trying to fly from Uzbekistan to London and that "Mom is home."

Iman Karimova had not been seen since a rare public appearance in Uzbekistan in September 2017, when she attended an official ceremony honoring her late grandfather.

One of the posts in the Instagram stories section featured a photo of a boarding pass for a September 28 Istanbul-to-London flight, accompanied by superimposed text indicating she was under high stress because she could not depart due to luggage inspections.

A later post advised her followers to "stay tuned" for a "hopefully successful" attempt the next day. A third post states simply that she "made it."

The "Mom is home" post, which sparked speculation that Gulnara Karimova may have been moved from prison to house arrest, was apparently deleted.

The Uzbek Prosecutor-General's Office later confirmed that Iman Karimova had left Uzbekistan for Britain.

However, the office denied that Gulnara Karimova had been released, saying that she was still serving her sentence.

Uzbek authorities say that Gulnara Karimova, now 46, was sentenced to five years of "restricted freedom" in 2015 after being convicted of crimes that included extortion, embezzlement, and tax evasion.

She was once seen as a possible successor to the autocratic Karimov, who ruled Uzbekistan for 27 years before the government announced that he had died on September 2, 2016, of a stroke.

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