Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who ruled Uzbekistan with an iron fist since the fall of the Soviet Union nearly a quarter of a century ago, has died, the government has announced. He was 78 years old. (more)
Karimov was hospitalized on Saturday morning after he suffered a brain haemorrhagea, but his condition was initially described as stable. Rumors of his death began to surface a short time later though it was not until Friday evening that the government announced his death.
"He left us," said Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, the president's daughter, in a post on her official Instagram account.
A medical report released by the government said Karimov had been in a coma and on life support since Saturday morning, but the president's organs began to fail and he suffered cardiac arrest at 8:15 p.m. on Friday. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at 8:55 p.m.
The Uzbek government said Karimov will be buried in the city of Samarkand on Saturday. Three days of national mourning have been declared.
It is uncertain who will succeed Karimov. The constitution dictates that Senate Chairman Nigmatilla Yuldashev is to take over as acting president, but experts believe that the transition of power will likely be decided by Karimov's inner circle.
Observers believe Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev and deputy Rustam Azimov are among those most likely to succeed.
A government statement released on Friday night said the prime minister will lead a funeral commission, but it did not specify who is in power. A condolence letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, was addressed to Yuldashev and called him acting president.
Karimov ruled Uzbekistan for more than a quarter of a century. He was initially chosen to succeed as the head of Uzbekistan's Communist Party in 1989 and he went on to become the republic's first president just a year later, when Uzbekistan was still part of the Soviet Union.
The Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty in June 1990, just three months into Karimov's first term as president, but it would take until September 1, 1991, for the nation to fully declare independence from the Soviet Union, which was dissolved just four months later.
Karimov ruled the country ever since, staging four presidential elections that foreign observers heavily criticized as undemocratic.
Throughout his 27 years in power, Karimov built a totalitarian state known for its brutality and corruption. Karimov’s government was frequently accused of human rights abuses, including allegations of forced child labor and, in at least one case, a prisoner being boiled alive.
Karimov became an ally of the United States at the start of the war in Afghanistan in 2001, allowing U.S troops to use the country’s Karshi-Khanabad Air Base. In 2005, however, U.S troops were evicted from the base following American criticism over a violent crackdown in Andijan, where Uzbek troops fired into a crowd of protesters, killing hundreds of people, including women and children.
Uzbek authorities blamed the massacre on Islamists and Western powers allegedly plotting a coup. In the months following the massacre, hundreds of people were sentenced to lengthy jail sentences during trials coordinated by the government.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who has ruled Uzbekistan since the fall of the Soviet Union nearly a quarter of a century ago, is being treated in an intensive care unit after suffering a brain haemorrhage. (more) Read More