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Gulnara Karimova Takes To Twitter Following Critical Report

Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, has been implicated in a major bribery scandal. (file photo)
Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, has been implicated in a major bribery scandal. (file photo)
Gulnara Karimova and her supporters have taken to Twitter to respond to an investigative report linking the Uzbek president's daughter to large-scale bribery.

The report, published May 22 by RFE/RL and Sweden's "Mission: Investigation" television program, is based on leaked documents that appear to bear Karimova's handwriting.

Among other things, the documents offer new evidence that the Stockholm-based telecom giant TeliaSonera has paid millions of dollars in bribes to enter and remain in the Uzbek market.

Karimova, the flamboyant elder daughter of Uzbekistan's autocratic leader Islam Karimov, has never officially commented on the case.

She rarely grants interviews, but has become an enthusiastic if sporadic presence on Twitter, which she uses to collect compliments from admirers and occasionally engage in barbed exchanges with her critics.

In the heated volley of tweets and retweets that has followed the RFE/RL-Swedish report, she ignores the claims, using the story as an opportunity to lash out at perceived enemies in Uzbekistan and beyond.

ALSO READ: Fresh Evidence Of TeliaSonera Ties To Karimova

"It's clear that Ozodlik" -- a reference to RFE/RL's Uzbek Service – "received a strict 'order from above' to sully the name of Gulnara Karimova by any means necessary," said a message by @meclarck retweeted by Karimova.

She also indulges in speculation that the report was aided by MTS, TeliaSonera's former mobile-phone rival, which was forced out of Uzbekistan in the summer of 2012 after a raid by tax police.

Falling Out With A Former Ally?

The former head of MTS in Uzbekistan, Bekzod Akhmedov, is a one-time ally of Karimova's and is under investigation in Sweden and Switzerland in connection with money-laundering on behalf of the ruling family. Tweets suggest the two now appear to have fallen out.

"It's becoming clear that it's Akhmedov's protectors who are the ones who ordered all this dirt," one Karimova supporter, @AbdunazarovaM, tweeted.

"MTS earned millions in Uzbekistan, and now they're sitting all covered in dirt," @UlushMirab added.

"Aha! And because Gulnara Karimova didn't buy into their deals and blackmail, they're going to pressure her more than anyone else," wrote @hellsuffer.

"Pressure me!" Karimova weighed in. "What a joke. Outlets like Ozodlik and the Swedes are just mom and pop operations."

Karimova also noted that Akhmedov -- whose whereabouts have been the source of much speculation since his apparent fall from grace -- is "always moving around and he's located now in Moscow $$$$))))."

Many of the tweets also focus on Karimova's rumored ambition to succeed her aging father as president.

One supporter, @amalprosto, tweeted: "The main goal [of the Swedish-RFE/RL report] is to see Gulnara Islamovna withdraw from the race! The closer the elections get, the more 'kompromat' there will be" – a reference to the Russian term for "compromising material."

Another tweet, from @RasidJamamurato, speculated, "Some political forces are putting pressure on Gulnara Karimova because of her growing popularity among the people."

@meclark added: "It's true that for those waging a geopolitical war over Uzbekistan" -- an apparent reference to Russia and the United States -- "they need a person who's stupid and obedient." "Those kinds of people exist, believe me!)))"

Karimova playfully tweeted back, adding later, "Thank you, my dears, for the support and understanding. I'm proud of the fact that I can look people in the eye."

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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