Uzbekistan’s long-time leader, Islam Karimov, was admitted to hospital this week for unspecified reasons, according to government officials.
On 28 August, Uzbekistan’s government published on its official website a statement that the country’s president, Islam Karimov, is receiving ‘hospital treatment’ and that ‘he will undergo a full medical check, [and] the subsequent treatment will require some time’. Neither the reasons for the hospital treatment nor any other information was disclosed. The government has no history of making similar statements.
On Monday 29 August, Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, the daughter of Islam Karimov stated on her Facebook page that her father had a brain haemorrhage and is in the intensive care department of a Tashkent hospital.
The media has already begun to speculate that either Shavkat Mirziyeev, the prime minister, or Rustam Azimov, the first deputy prime minister and the minister of finance, might become Karimov’s successor. Both individuals have been named as candidates for the succession over many years.
If Karimov is forced to leave office, it seems likely that Uzbekistan’s future political construction will be determined not by a democratic process but by some behind-the-scenes arrangement between major groups in Uzbekistan’s political elite. Both Mirziyeev and Azimov might play a role in this process. However, other candidates who have never been named in connection with the presidency may emerge (as was the case in Turkmenistan).
Image: President of Uzebekistan Islam Karimov at United Nations headquarters/ Henny Ray Abrams / AP/Press Association Images