Pictures of Islom Karimov that do not look doctored seem to be rarer than sightings of him in public. The president has been rumored to be on the verge of death from cancer for about the last decade. With very little reliable information about him, photos and videos are some of the few ways to judge the state of his health. That many of the photos of him that appear in reports originating in the Uzbek media are old or fake should come as no surprise, but it is somewhat striking how obviously fake these photos look.
The photo below is from a 29 March, 2012 report on Karimov meeting with the Commander of CENTCOM in Tashkent. Something just looks off, especially when comparing it to the photo of General Mattis that also appears in the article. The most charitable explanation is that the president gets better lighting and post-processing while the guests do not.
The above photograph is all the more interesting in light of the next one. President Karimov must really like that suit and tie combination, because he wore it for a 17 February meeting with a French delegation. The only significant difference is that he seems a bit happier with the French visitors.
I can’t stress enough how much Karimov likes this suit combination and seven pencils to his right. It also appeared in a 28 February meeting with the UK’s defense minister and a 7 February meeting with Ukraine’s foreign minister. And the suit appears sans pencils during a 6 January meeting, a 10 February meeting, and a 19 January speech. He was also wearing the outfit in front of the Tashkent city council a couple weeks ago and during an address to a conference on education in mid February.
Several of these photographs do look like recycled images from one photo shoot, others almost look like they contain a digitally-inserted dictator, and all look like they have been touched up to smooth out Karimov’s wrinkles and darken his hair. Video captures show Karimov very differently, wrinkles and all. Even back in 2005, he looked older than he does in any of the above photographs, and more recently, his age shows much more.
Below is another shot of Karimov at the recent Navruz celebrations in Tashkent. The other day, I wrote that Karimov looks good compared to other recent appearances. However, looking at the last photo, it is fairly clear the only thing going for him is that he was able to do his own take on the running man. He looks awful.
It may be harder to dig up images in television broadcasts that do not often get archived on the internet, but it was not particularly difficult to find them. So, what is the point of having such laughably fake looking photographs of Karimov hanging on the Uzbek
media’s government’s reports press releases? Is the point really to fool anyone, because it seems unlikely that it would?