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Gulnara Karimova's Twitter Account Vanishes

Uzbekistan's "first daughter" Gulnara Karimova has been a somewhat idiosyncratic presence on Twitter ever since she joined the social network in May 2011.
Uzbekistan's "first daughter" Gulnara Karimova has been a somewhat idiosyncratic presence on Twitter ever since she joined the social network in May 2011.
Gulnara Karimova's on-again, off-again Twitter battles with Western activists and journalists provided a rare -- if somewhat perplexing -- glimpse into a regime criticized by rights' groups as one of the world's worst human rights abusers.

Since this weekend though, attempts to access the Twitter feed of the 41-year-old daughter of Uzbekistan's long-serving president, Islam Karimov, have brought up only error messages.

It is not clear if Karimova herself deactivated her account or, as one Karimova fan club suggested, the account was hacked.

Just in case it is gone for good, RFE/RL has put together a Twitter retrospective of Karimova's most memorable social-media moments.

'Downward Facing Dog'

It is likely that the original purpose of Karimova's social-media accounts was less to engage in "Twitter diplomacy" than to support her alter ego, Googoosha, a fledgling pop star. (The verified @realgoogoosha handle, which has not been updated since January, still exists.)

Succeeding in the pop business requires a certain verve -- and nothing provides sustenance for youthful vigor like yoga.

It was in this light, perhaps, that Karimova posted this series of yoga poses in advance of a new album release.

PHOTO GALLERY: Gulnara Karimova's Yoga Poses

'Jealous' Critics

Following the yoga updates and a series of increasingly strange promotional posts, a Twitter user created a parody account -- @realbooboosha.

This was apparently too much for Karimova, who decided her past strategy of (passive) aggressively blocking critical journalists was not sufficient.

Speaking of several journalists and activists who had been criticizing her, she tweeted, "wow, and they all look like from one mom!))))))is it one family or smth??!"

She then addressed activist Jillian York personally:

@jilliancyork realbooboosha really feel sorry for losers like you! Nothing to get busy in your own life just to be jealous about smns body)
@jilliancyork My small advise if I may, sorry,I usually don't do it to people: start to shape up your fat could help!

Promises Not Kept

Karimova's newfound willingness to engage on Twitter prompted others to attempt to prod her into answering questions about Uzbekistan's abysmal human rights record.

In a back-and-forth with Andrew Stroehlein, then at the International Crisis Group, where he accused her of representing "one of the most repressive regimes in the world," Karimova asked the rights activist to e-mail a list of complaints.

"Once I see it in your docs I'll speak about each and every case with you," she said.

Despite the promise, she never did respond to his open letter.

Meanwhile, Natalia Antelava, a BBC journalist watching the conversation between Stroehlein and Karimova, weighed in:

Again, a back-and-forth ensued in which Karimova promised to reply to a detailed e-mail outlining the problems and also requested that Antelava not "use that idiotic line 'dictator's daughter'!" Again, the e-mail was not met with a response.

Too Much To Handle?

Karimova, who is also a fashion designer, has had a rather difficult year.

In May, an investigation by a Swedish television program -- shared with RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, Radio Ozodlik -- implicated her in an alleged scheme to demand over $300 million in bribes from TeliaSonera, a Swedish telecom giant.

Following the report, Karimova pushed back on Twitter.

"What a joke," she said. "Outlets like Ozodlik and the Swedes are just mom and pop operations."

She then retweeted a message from a fan who claimed that RFE/RL's Uzbek Service "received a strict 'order from above' to sully the name of Gulnara Karimova, by any means necessary."

Since the report, authorities in Europe have frozen hundreds of millions of dollars in assets of people known to be close to Karimova.

Amid rumors about the 75-year-old Karimov's failing health, some had pegged his daughter as a possible successor. But the scandal has brought intra-family squabbling to the fore.

Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, Karimov's youngest daughter, told the BBC in a recent interview that she has not spoken to her sister in 12 years and could not envision her taking over from their father.

Stroehlein, now European media director at Human Rights Watch, says that while Karimova's Twitter account may have been interesting for journalists, it never served a real purpose.

"It's changed absolutely nothing for anyone on the ground that she had a Twitter account and It changed absolutely nothing for the people suffering on the ground that she got rid of her Twitter account," he says.

-- Glenn Kates

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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