Islom Abdug‘aniyevich Karimov
(in Cyrillic Uzbek
: Ислом Абдуғаниевич Каримов ; in Russian
: Ислам Абдуганиевич Каримов Islam Abduganiyevich Karimov
) (born on January 30
) has served as the President
Karimov was born in Samarkand, Uzbek SSR, Soviet Union. He is half-Uzbek, from his father's side, and half-Tajik from his mother's side. He grew up in a Soviet state-orphanage. Later he studied engineering and economics in Tashkent.
Rise to power
Karimov became an official in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
, becoming the party's First Secretary in Uzbekistan in 1989. On March 24
he became President of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic
. He declared Uzbekistan an independent nation on August 31
. He won Uzbekistan's first presidential election on December 29
with 86% of the vote. The elections were called unfair, with state-run propaganda and a falsified vote count, although the opposing candidate and leader of the Erk
(Freedom) Party, Muhammad Salih
, had a chance to participate. Shortly after the elections, a harsh political clampdown forced opposition leaders into exile, while many have been issued long-term prison sentences and a few have disappeared.
In 1995, Karimov extended his term until 2000 through a widely criticized referendum
, and he was re-elected with 91.9% of the vote on January 9
. The United States
said that this election "was neither free nor fair and offered Uzbekistan's voters no true choice". The sole opposition candidate, Abdulhafiz Jalalov, implicitly admitted that he entered the race only to make it seem democratic and publicly stated that he voted for Karimov. On January 27
, Karimov won another referendum extending the length of presidential terms from five to seven years; Karimov's present term, formerly due to end in 2005, was subsequently extended by parliament, which scheduled the next elections for December 2007.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks Uzbekistan was considered a strategic ally in the United States' "War on Terrorism" campaign because of a mutual opposition to the Taliban. Uzbekistan hosted an 800-strong U.S. troop presence at the Karshi-Khanabad base, also known as "K2", which supported U.S.-led efforts in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. This move was criticized by Human Rights Watch which said the U.S. government subordinated the promotion of human rights to assistance in the War in Afghanistan. U.S.-Uzbek relations deteriorated in May 2005 when the U.S. government criticized the Uzbek government's reaction to protests in Andijan. In July of 2005 U.S. military forces left Karshi-Khanabad.
Karimov was mobilized against the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Islamist organizations that the government has designated as terrorist.. The Uzbek government sentenced Tohir Yo‘ldosh and Juma Namangani, leaders of the IMU, to death in absentia. Namangani died in Afghanistan in 2001 but Tohir Yo‘ldosh is still alive.
Karimov sought another term in the December 2007 presidential election, despite arguments that he was ineligible due to the two-term limit on the presidency. On November 6 2007, Karimov accepted the nomination of the Uzbekistan Liberal Democratic Party to run for a third term. On November 19, the Central Election Commission announced the approval of Karimov's candidacy, a decision that Karimov's opponents condemned as illegal.
Following the election on December 23, preliminary official results showed Karimov winning with 88.1% of the vote, on a turnout rate that was placed at 90.6%. Observers from groups allied to the Karimov administration such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Commonwealth of Independent States gave the election a positive assessment. However, observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe criticized the election as lacking a "genuine choice," while others deemed the election, a "political charade, given that all three of Karimov's rivals began their campaign speeches by singing Karimov's praises.
The international community has repeatedly criticized the Karimov administration's record on human rights
and press freedom
. In particular, Craig Murray
, the British Ambassador from 2002 to 2004, wrote about financial corruption and human rights abuses during his term in office and later in his memoirs Murder in Samarkand
, pointing to reports of boiling people to death
. The United Nations
"institutionalized, systematic, and rampant" in Uzbekistan's judicial system. For several years, Parade Magazine
has selected Karimov for being one of the world's worst dictators
, citing to his tactics of torture
, media censorship
, and fake elections
Karimov's wife, Raisa Karimova Tatyana Akbarovna Karimova, is an economist. They have two daughters and three grandchildren. His elder daughter, Gulnara Karimova
, who has been ducking an arrest warrant
from New Jersey
, serves as an advisor for Uzbekistan's ambassador to Russia
and is believed to have built an extensive business empire that includes the largest wireless telephone operator in the country, night clubs, and a large cement factory.
Despite the fact that Karimov is criticized in the West, he had good relations with the then president of France Jacque Chirac. Once Chirac gave a surprise and unofficial visit to Tashkent on Amir Timur's birthday and the two spent their time together like friends.
Gulnara Karimova is closer to Karimov than his younger daughter Lola Karimova. Gulnara once admitted that it was her father who gave her the nickname "Googoosha".