Turkey Announces Uzbek Leader’s Death

Turkey Announces Uzbek Leader’s DeathTurkey Announces Uzbek Leader’s Death

Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov has died, Turkey said, despite no official confirmation from the Uzbek government. Karimov, 78, was taken to hospital last week after a brain hemorrhage. However, the Uzbek government has only said Karimov is critically ill. On Friday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told a televised meeting Karimov had died. Karimov had governed Uzbekistan in an authoritarian manner since 1989. He has no clear successor. There is no legal political opposition and the media is tightly controlled by the state. A UN report has described the use of torture as “systematic”. Yildirim said in a Cabinet meeting broadcast live: “Uzbek President Islam Karimov has passed away. May God’s mercy be upon him, as the Turkish Republic we are sharing the pain and sorrow of Uzbek people”. Long before Yildirim’s statement, rumors were circulating that Karimov had already died. Earlier on Friday, Reuters said three unnamed diplomatic sources had confirmed Karimov’s death. An opposition website, Fergana, reported that preparations were under way for his funeral in his home town, Samarkand. Samarkand’s airport has been closed to scheduled flights on Saturday.