Sisterly feud in Uzbek first family goes public

AFP-JIJI

In a public row that has exposed rifts in the Central Asian ruling family, the eldest daughter of Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov has accused her sister of destructive behavior and ties to sorcerers.

Gulnara Karimova, who is known as a pop star and fashion designer, responded publicly after her sister, Lola Karimova-Tillayeva, gave an interview, saying they had not spoken in 12 years.

“One part of the family (our father) ‘provides,’ but the other destroys and is friends with sorcerers,” Karimova, whose nickname is Googoosha, wrote on her Instagram profile Wednesday.

Karimova also indirectly accused her sister, who heads a charity foundation, of embezzlement and destroying a religious inscription while refurbishing orphanages.

With her striking looks and prolific postings on social networking sites, Karimova has become the best-known public face of Uzbekistan, which has been ruled by their father since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

But her sister broke a long media silence to tell the BBC last month that the sisters did not meet even at family events.

Karimova-Tillayeva, 35, who is Uzbekistan’s permanent representative at UNESCO in Paris, also suggested that her elder sister had little chance of succeeding their father.

Karimova, 41, runs jewelry and cosmetics businesses and a number of charity funds. Until recently, she was Uzbekistan’s permanent representative in the United Nations in Geneva and its ambassador to Spain.

Karimova’s Twitter posts and blog have disappeared mysteriously in recent weeks.

In the BBC interview last month, Karimova-Tillayeva distanced herself from her father’s policies, commenting on child labor and religious extremism.

Karimov has been criticized for using the pretext of battling religious extremism to silence any dissent.