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Daddy's Little Helper

In a turn of events sure to astonish only those easily astonished, some Uzbek commentators suggest that the best person to succeed President Islam Karimov is … his daughter. by BBC Monitoring 8 March 2007 An Internet article describes the Uzbek president's daughter Lola Karimova as the best candidate suiting all political forces in the country. It suggests that there are forces, both inside the country and abroad, that would support her candidacy in the presidential election. The article quotes Russian political scientist Aleksey Malashenko as saying that any other "strong" politician coming to power "may split the country". The following is the text of Viktoriya Panfilova's report published by Centrasia information agency website on 5 March and attributed to Nezavisimaya Gazeta:

Gulnora Karimova, daughter of the Uzbek president, is known as a business lady. She is the chairman of the Forum of Culture and Arts Foundation of Uzbekistan, a leading model of the Tashkent fashion house, a designer of jewelry and, of course, a politician. Despite the fact that she demonstratively distances herself from power, her name is linked to the future of the country.

A successor of [Uzbek President] Islom Karimov should equally suit representatives of all Uzbek clans. Some experts say the most attractive candidate in this respect is the president's daughter Gulnora Karimova. There are people in Uzbekistan and in the West who are ready to support her candidacy in the elections [apparently the forthcoming presidential election in 23 December 2007]. As for Gulnora herself, she has so far been categorically against it, by dismissing these kinds of reports saying "All this is groundless talk".

A Russian political scientist, Aleksey Malashenko, believes that the ascension to power of one of the other strong politicians may split the country. "Then everything is possible, including an uprising of local Islamists and an outbreak of international terrorism and spread of chaos to the whole region. Gulnora is a European style educated person with all the [beneficial] consequences [of this education]. And if one just imagines for one second that she manages to come to power (to tell the truth, she has little chances for this), then everybody will be pleased with her in the long run," says Aleksey Malashenko, member of the scientific council of a Carnegie centre in Moscow.

Incidentally, Gulnora has long been involved in the political life of Uzbekistan. After presenting her thesis "International economic relations", she started working at the Uzbek Foreign Ministry. Later she became an advisor-envoy at the Uzbek embassy in Russia. In the diplomatic field, she established connections at various levels, both in politics and culture.

Having set up the Centre for Political Research in Tashkent, she presented a completely new blueprint for setting up a unified energy market on the territory of SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) member countries at her almost first major international conference "Energy market of Central Asia: trends and prospects". She immediately won acclaim from specialists.

Apart from politics, Gulnora Karimova has been engaged in some other projects. She has taken under her patronage the centre for helping disabled children Hayot [Life]. Gulnora has been engaged in fashion designing. She recently arranged an exhibition in St Petersburg entitled "Dreams about the East: Russian vanguard from Buxoro silk". While at the end of 2006, there was the first large-scale fashion project in Uzbekistan's history, the "Week of design and fashion" in Samarqand [town in central Uzbekistan].

Under the Forum of Culture and Arts of Uzbekistan foundation, gifted people implement their ideas, conduct art and photo exhibitions in the country and abroad, take part in competitions, organize various festivals (above all for children), undergo training at musical establishments in Tashkent and stage plays. Karimova has done a great deal to set up centres for children's creative activities in many towns of Uzbekistan. She contributed to setting up a new children's sports centre as well.

Another major project of Gulnora - a contest of young talented people "Kelajak Ovozi" (Voice of Future) - has been implemented since recent times. There were dozens of nominations and 3,000 young men and women from all the corners of Uzbekistan took part in them. They were given a chance to implement their dreams and an impetus to begin something new. By the way, Gulnora herself has started trying herself in a vocal style; she filmed in a video clip with her own song.

When you talk with her she is close and understandable, natural and sincere, at the same time, she is rational and firm in her convictions. Maybe [this is so] because she is a daughter of the first man in the country? In an interview with the Nezavisimaya Gazeta, she characterized her future with the following words: "Children, country, its current affairs and future projects".

[The website carried a large picture of Gulnora Karimova by photographer Natalya Preobrazhenskaya]
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