Prisoner Princess: how Gulnara Karimova lost power and business

The Uzbek prosecutor's office told about the verdict of Gulnara Karimova, the senior daughter of the ex-president of the country. Once considered "Crown Princess", in 2013 Karimova lost business and was under house arrest.
Origin source
The eldest daughter of the former president of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov Gulnara is 45 years old. She graduated from the Department of International Economics, Faculty of Philosophy and Economics, Tashkent State University, then continued her studies abroad, in 2000 she received her Master of Arts degree from Harvard University.

For a long time, Karimova was one of the most influential people in Uzbekistan, she was engaged in business, she released her own line of perfume and clothes, acted on the stage under the pseudonym Googoosha, became the biggest philanthropist in the country, and also was Uzbekistan's representative to the UN in Geneva. The media called her the most likely successor to his father in power.

As the teacher of the Tashkent State University, who wished to remain anonymous, told RBC that she did not use popular among the people: "For Uzbeks, Karimov was too modern: how she dressed and behaved, her songs were not popular with the people". In the diplomatic correspondence published by WikiLeaks, Karimov was sometimes called "the most hated person" in Uzbekistan.

Political ambitions

In 1995, 23-year-old Karimova began working in the Uzbek Foreign Ministry, she became an adviser to the minister. At that time, her father was leading the country for more than six years. Karimova combined the study in the US with one more state post: an adviser to the permanent representation of Uzbekistan at the UN headquarters in New York. In September 2003, she worked as an adviser-envoy of the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Russia.

In April 2005, the country opened the first "think tank" - the Center for Policy Studies (CPI), which was headed by Karimova. The Center held international conferences and round tables, published an information and analytical magazine Uzbekistan & Central Asia. What is happening now with the center and whether it continues its work is unknown.

In 2010, Karimova became the Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Spain, having worked in this position for two years.

In 2012, responding to the journalists' question about whether she considers herself a potential head of state, she said that she sees herself as an ambitious person and "The potential head of the state can be everyone who has ambitions and, at the same time, some brains and aspiration".

"Sometimes it's very difficult for me to tell where my ceiling is. But I consider myself to be a person developing and not having pronounced borders, especially above myself, that is, a border that, as they say, closes communication with the sky. "

The Fund "Forum of Culture and Art of Uzbekistan" was established by Karimova in 2004. Over the eight years of its existence, he has organized more than 1,500 projects in Uzbekistan and abroad. He was an official partner of UNESCO, and his official representations worked in China, Japan, France, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, USA, Great Britain and Germany. To the opening of the office in France, Karimova held a fashion show of Uzbek designers in the Louvre.

Besides working in this fund, Karimova acted as the trustee of several other public organizations. For example, the Women's Assembly, the For Life Foundation, which supports women with breast cancer, and the Social Initiatives Support Fund, among others.​


Karimova's business activities are not known for certain. She was connected with the largest cellular operator of Uzbekistan - the company Uzdunrobita, as well as the media holding company Terra Group.

Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray in his book "Murder in Samarkand" wrote that during his work in the country Karimova controlled the entire market of banner advertising and printed products. This, according to Murray, was partly explained by the fact that at some point the images of Karimova on the streets were met almost more often than the images of her father. John Colombo, a producer from Los Angeles who shot a music video for Karimova, recalled how, after arriving in Uzbekistan, he was surprised that her songs were played on the radio, her face was on giant billboards. "She was everywhere," he said.

But the most high-profile story related to Karimova's business concerns the telecommunications market in Uzbekistan. In the mid-2000s, mobile communication was considered a luxury in the country. The largest operator was the company Uzdunrobita, the actual control over which, according to journalist Kathryn Collins, in 2002 received Gulnara Karimova. In 2004, the Russian company MTS paid $ 126.4 million for a 74% stake in the company.

In 2012, a group of journalists found out that the Swedish-Finnish telecommunications company TeliaSonera paid about $ 300 million to enter the Uzbek market, and transferred money through a company registered with Gulnara Karimova's assistant. She herself denied any connection with the TeliaSonera case.

In 2012, in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden, and in 2014 and in the United States, an investigation was launched about alleged bribes in the telecommunications market in Uzbekistan.

According to the American side, Russian companies MTS and VimpelCom and the Swedish-Finnish TeliaSonera through front companies paid bribes to persons close to Karimova for access to the market. In February 2016, the management of VimpelCom agreed with the US authorities and the Dutch prosecutor's office to settle claims of corruption, recognizing the fact of bribing an unnamed relative of the president of Uzbekistan. The company promised to pay $ 795 million in compensation. Half of this amount was received by the Netherlands.

Criminal cases and house arrest

In the summer of 2013, Gulnara Karimov was deprived of diplomatic immunity, several allegedly connected with her real estate in France were searched at the request of the Swiss prosecutor's office. The searches were carried out as part of the investigation of several Uzbek citizens related to the president's daughter, but she herself, as the media reported, did not pass the case.

At the same time, the accounts of the media holding company Terra Group were frozen, the press agency of Uzbekistan closed several TV channels and radio stations belonging to the holding, as they, according to local special services, did not pay taxes to the country's budget. Karimova's project "Forum of Culture and Art of Uzbekistan" also ceased to exist. His closure of Karimov in his Twitter called "a serious attack on civil organizations and in general on thinking society." In the beginning of the company against her, Karimova accused her mother, younger sister, father and Rustam Inoyatov - a KGB officer and one of Karimov's advisers. While her page was not deleted, Karimova told that her supporters were being prosecuted, arrested of their cousin and arrested at home. Since 2014, about Karimova, virtually nothing was known.

The editor of the information site "" Daniil Kislov in an interview with the BBC told that the story of TeliaSonera did not like Islam Karimov. Depriving of access to business and putting him under house arrest, he tried to pacify his daughter. In September 2016, Karimov died. Gulnara Karimova was not at his funeral.

July 28, 2017 it became known that in 2015 she was sentenced to five years of restraint of liberty. The Uzbek prosecutor's office issued a statement in which it said that Karimova was found guilty for a number of crimes - in assisting a criminal group that engaged in embezzlement, extortion of money, embezzlement of state funds, and tax evasion. Also, with respect to the daughter of the former president, another process is under way. She is accused of concealing foreign currency by getting "kickbacks" on offshore accounts for $ 1.942 billion and € 29.1 million, breaking customs legislation for 607.6 billion soums, breaking the rules of trade for 572.9 billion soums, forging documents and legalizing incomes .

As RBC Kislov said, despite the fact that the prosecutor's office announced the verdict of Karimova, there are still a lot of questions. "There are still a lot of questions: why the court was not opened, whether lawyers participated there in due measure, why they were silent for so long, how long the second criminal case will be investigated," Kislov said.