Josh saw this on my personal weblog [peaceclog.com] and suggested that it belonged on Registan.net as well, so here it is, slightly edited for the target audience. I’d also like to point out that I’ve met someone that reads news on the region from various blogs, but avoids Registan.net as being “too American.” Well, it takes all kinds, and I hope that that’s not 100% insult.
So, there are two news stories I’d like to share. One about Uzbekistan’s “royalty” and the other about Uzbekistan’s encounter with actual royalty. In other words, the first story is regarding GooGooSha, AKA Gulnora Karimova, daughter and possible heiress to President Islom Karimov of Uzbekistan. The second story covers Uzbekistan’s recent run-in with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the football pitch. [Is that how they say it? You know, I'm just a hick American...] Well, on the soccer field, anyway.
The lovely lady to the right is Gulnora Karimova, daughter to Islom Karimov, president-for-life of Uzbekistan. She recently gave an interview in a glossy Russian fashion magazine, which labeled her an ‘Uzbek princess.’ Gulnora seemed to approve of the title, to say the least. Allow me to chronicle some fun facts in an easy-to-read bullet list. Gulnora Karimova:
- born July 8th, 1972
- was once married, with children, to an American citizen of Afghan descent
- was given a healthy share of the husband’s assets following divorce in New Jersey: $4.5 million in jewelery, at least $11 million holdings in Dubai and Geneva, as well as and business interests valued at $60 million, including a ski resort complex, nightclubs and telecommunications investments
- is unable to visit the US again, as there is a warrant out for her arrest following her messy divorce and fleeing the country with her children after her ex-husband was awarded custody
- pop-singer in her native Uzbekistan of cover songs
- was once arrested in UAE [United Arab Emirates], an extradition country reacting to her warrant, and hence forth hired into her father’s diplomatic corps to award immunity
- negotiated on behalf of Uzbekistan to award most of Uzbekistan’s natural gas exports to the Russian state-controlled company Gazprom
- received a large cash payment [the gossip is that it was $88 million] after said negotiation
- is the largest shareholder of Oxus Gold, responsible for Uzbekistan’s many gold mines
- has been accused following several media exposes of running a human trafficking ring, providing Uzbek prostitutes to markets in Dubai and other countries through misinformation, kidnapping, and withholding of personal documents. You can read this story from 2003 or this report from 2006. That’s just a starter course – if you want more, google “Karimova Human Trafficking” and see what pops up.
I think that paints a certain picture. Anyway, I just heard that she has given yet another interview, this one in the Russian edition of Hello! magazine. This journal, started in Spain in 1988, is now published in 12 countries: Serbia, Spain, UK, Russia, Turkey, Thailand, UAE, Greece, Canada, India, Malaysia and Mexico. It’s a weekly magazine specializing in celebrity gossip and human interest stories in the news. The article can be read here, but allow me to quote a little bit…
She never gives unplanned interviews. Her “revelations” mostly appear in entertaining, glamorous publications.
The first time readers saw such an “autoportrait” of Gulnara was in Moscow Faces magazine in 2003. Karimova appeared before readers as a professionally qualified Harvard alumni, loving daughter, beginning poet and singer, as well as a talented designer of jewelry. At that time, she told about different kinds of sports she had participated in, including athletics, taekwondo, stretch-yoga and Swiss gymnastics on balloons.
Only three years later, the first detailed story about Karimova in the Uzbek press appeared. It was a 2006 interview in the Tashkent Bella Terra magazine which occupied twenty pages and where, instead of text, there were thirty-six sometimes-altered photos of Gulnara posed in different interior settings.
For the first time in many years, Gulnara Karimova allows herself to answer questions about her ex-husband, the American businessman of Afghan origin, Mansour Maksudi (without mentioning his name, though).
“It is a sad story which divided my life into a “before” and “after”. Unfortunately, the horrors of the past life disturb my current “world”. The point is that one is dispersing, keeping a human’s face for each other, for children, but the other, as it was with my husband, crave for revenge. His family, and now I understand that I was married to his entire family, are coming from a deep-rooted Afghan environment. For the past seven years they have been trying to destroy me, morally, first of all. They spoke of me in the press, repeatedly, and are still doing that in order to undermine my image..…I have never tried to justify or to prove the opposite. You wanna know why? Because tanks are not used for crushing bugs.”
Harvard has always been a strange institution to my mind: world class education whose superb reputation means it’s doors are especially attractive to the rich and powerful, no matter how amoral or dull their children happen to be. I have no doubt that Gulnora was probably an excellent student, and probably no more manipulative than most, but it certainly gives her an unsightly patina of Americanism, something particularly shameful for Harvard when you consider the human trafficking and her complacency with her father’s strong-arm politics.
The other story is more connected with my close friends Abdullah and Amani from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They are Shiite from the Gulf region in the northeast of Saudi Arabia, and they were very surprised the first time I said that Uzbekistan was trying for World Cup contention. They probably still don’t have high hopes for them, but recently they had a chance to see first hand.
It turns out that Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia met a little while ago. They were both already qualified for the next round, and the match a formality. Uzbekistan lost with the score being 4-0 at the conclusion. I’ve read comments stating the Uzbek team was merely using the time to experiment with new tactics, but it certainly didn’t make them look too good to lose so handily to Saudi Arabia’s team. I’ve never been a big soccer fan – in the USA, it really seems to be the province of children aged 5 – 12. Still, Uzbekistan is on the way to qualifying for World Cup 2010, along with Saudi Arabia. Uzbekistan has a history of dominating their neighbors in football, if nothing else. I wish both teams luck, but that can’t mean much, seeing as how unenthusiastic I am about the sport in general.