The Greatest Uzbek

Azerbaijan, the official newspaper of Azerbaijani Parliament (Milli Majlis) has published an article titled The Greatest Uzbek – a 3,000-word panegyric about Islam Karimov, the authoritarian leader of Uzbekistan. What is interesting about the article is an honest acknowledgement of darkest moments of his life, and his authoritarian style, and a sincere admiration with all these.

Below are some excerpts from the article (translation is mine).

Article introduction:

When his family delivered him to an orphanage in his 3 years, nobody would dare to think that this kid without patronage would become the patron of his state and his people after several decades.

His growing up in the orphanage was not without impacts on his character – he has faced with iron will all the cruel exams of the life and victory was always in his side.

In his way from an apprentice to the president, he has encountered both injustice, and betrayal, and assassination attempt, but has not been tired of serving his country and maintaining his alternativelessness with every means.

He turned away from his parents who left him to the orphanage, considered his state as his father, and his people as his mother. He has no relations with his son from his first marriage, but has fatherhood feelings towards all Uzbek people as well as two daughters of his whom he presents as his heirs to the public.

As he uses all means to achieve his goals, he creates different opinions about himself and  public protests, but he – Islam Karimov is The Greatest Uzbek in the eyes of his people and  a prominent leader and politician who has no alternatives even in forthcoming decades!..

From his childhood:

Islam Karimov was born in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on 30 January 1938. Information about his childhood is rather inconsistent. For example, one source notes that, his father was Abdulgani Karimov, an Uzbek agriculture worker from Samarkand, and his mother was Sanubar khanum, an ethnic Tajik. Other sources claim that his father was from Iran. Some sources state that his father was in jail between 1936 and 1941. When he returned home, he delivered 3-year-old Islam to an orphanage in Samarkand, while kept other children with him.

However, after the Second World War many new children around USSR arrived at Samarkand orphanage, therefore his parent had to take Islam Karimov back to their family. After orphanage, Islam became mischievous, and started to beat his brothers Ibod and Gunduz, as well as neighbours’ sons. Thus, his parents once again delivered Islam to orphanage in 1945. There is also interesting information about Islam’s mischievous behaviour in the orphanage. For example, when he was studying in the secondary school, he was threatening teachers with knife if they were giving him lower grades. Besides, he was famous for beating his classmates and other schoolchildren. He befriended only Jewish children, while beating permanently Russians, Tajiks and even Uzbeks.

Karimov and Uzbek language:

Another interesting fact about Islam Karimov is his learning of Uzbek language. Some biographical materials about Uzbekistan’s President note that Karimov’s family spoke Tajik, while in school he studied in Russian. However, in order to get a place in the public and political life of the country Karimov later learned his native tongue completely.

Karimov’s children:

Coming to family life, Karimov has two daughters from his second [last] marriage. The eldest, Gulnara Karimova has a successful business career. In addition, she writes poems, composes songs, and likes to sing. Nevertheless, Gulnara has a successful political career, too. She started her political career as a Deputy Foreign Minister. Some researchers consider her as a heir to Karimov.

Other daughter of Uzbek President, Lola is a graduate of Harvard University. She heads a philanthropic foundation called "You are not alone".

There is little information about Islam Karimov’s son from his first marriage. He is not considered as a heir to Karimov – either in his family, or in politics.