But in the space of one month, the once-untouchable Karimova has suffered an astonishingly public fall—which she has chronicled via outraged missives on Twitter—culminating over the last few weeks in what appears to be the methodical seizing of her assets by Uzbek authorities. Strings of high-end shops—oddly devoid of shoppers—were closed and their goods confiscated; four televisions stations and three radio stations went black. The accounts of holding companies affiliated with Gulnara were also frozen, according to Radio Free Europe. “They’re cutting off her revenue streams,” says a well-placed source.
All in all this is a sad turn of events for someone who once had so much to
give ostentatiously display:
Gulnara was always an anomaly in Uzbekistan, a traditional, male-dominated Central Asian country. Glamorous, ambitious, acquisitive, and extraordinarily wealthy, she loved hobnobbing with the Russian and European elites and spent limited time in Uzbekistan. On Twitter, she touted yoga, along with pictures of herself in tight-fitting yoga attire. She also found time to engage those who disagreed with her.
Gulnara attended Harvard; she fancies herself an artist of many talents. As “Googoosha,” she sings in her own music videos, including duets with Julio Iglesias and Depardieu. She has a fan club on Twitter. She also found time to design jewelry for the Swiss firm Chopard. Gulnara has long styled herself a fashion designer; her label is called “Guli.”
Oh Googoosha, how those times must seem so far away:
Last month a handful of TV and radio channels close to Ms Karimova stopped broadcasting. One media group was put under investigation on suspicion of financial wrongdoing.
The media blackout also hit Ms Karimova’s showpiece event – the annual StyleUz festival – usually graced by international stars; both Jose Carreras and Sting have performed in the past.
It seems that nobody in Uzbekistan can figure out if Gulnara’s troubles are being orchestrated by people around her father, President Ismail Karimov, or by Karimov himself; the man is, after all, 75 years old and not in great health, so he may not be in real control anymore. But Gulnara is just lashing out at everybody, from her mother who may participate in Satanic rituals, which sounds about right, to Uzbek security/spy chief Rustam Inoyatov, who she accuses of trying to usurp the presidency for himself and, OMG did you know, he’s totally been imprisoning and torturing people just because!
In other tweets Ms Karimova alleged that the security service is using threats, beatings and forced confessions, even against its own officers.
“They have already beaten up staff members to force them to confess to actions they did not commit,” she wrote on 4 November, giving details of the beating of one officer who she claimed had his ribs broken.
She also wrote that officers had been targeted for blowing the whistle on illegal activities in the security apparatus such as drinking at work, racketeering and smuggling alcohol and cigarettes.
In reality, show trials, false imprisonment and torture are essentially the only clubs the Uzbek security services have in their bag, and they’ve been doing it to anybody they feel like for a couple of decades now. I wonder if Gulnara just noticed, and this is her first foray into a long career as a passionate human rights advocate, or if she only cares when the people who get tortured could otherwise discredit her rivals. She seems disproportionately mad about her own financial scandals for somebody who suddenly cares about the plight of the oppressed back home. But that’s OK, because obviously the real victim of her father’s decades of systematic human rights abuses has been Googoosha, who probably can’t even get Sting to return her phone calls anymore.