Uzbekistan Reveals That Ex-Leader’s Daughter Is in Custody

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MOSCOW — The office of Uzbekistan’s prosecutor general confirmed Friday that Gulnara I. Karimova, the once-powerful daughter of the man who ruled Uzbekistan for more than two decades, was in state custody.

In 2014 Ms. Karimova disappeared from public view and in 2015 she was convicted of extortion and embezzlement charges, but until Friday’s announcement Uzbek authorities had not commented on her status. The prosecutors said that Ms. Karimova was currently in custody, and that she was facing additional criminal charges. They did not specify the location or conditions of her detention.

Ms. Karimova, 45, was once one of the most influential public figures in Uzbekistan, second only to her father, Islam Karimov, the authoritarian ruler of the Central Asian country from 1989, when it was still a Soviet republic, until his death last year.

Often appearing at odds with her country’s ultraconservative culture, Ms. Karimova has actively promoted herself as an international pop star and designer, performing under the stage name Googoosha. She also served as Uzbekistan’s ambassador to Spain and as her country’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva.

Googoosha – How Dare

Ms. Karimova appears in one of her pop videos under the stage name Googoosha

Ms. Karimova had been considered among the likeliest successors to her aging father. Her good fortune seemed to end, however, after she engaged in a public feud with her younger sister, Lola, and her mother, Tatyana, in 2014. Earlier in 2013, the United States opened an investigation into large-scale bribes she purportedly accepted from Russian and Swedish telecom companies.

A United States diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks in 2010 described Ms. Karimova as “a robber baron,” who “crushed” many business people in Uzbekistan.

In their statement, the Uzbek prosecutors said that Ms. Karimova was now facing charges of hiding almost $2 billion dollars she received as part of an “organized crime group” for lobbying, the illegal sale of telecom licenses and land plots, and other activities.

The investigators also said they were seeking to freeze more than $1.5 billion in assets held by Ms. Karimova in 12 countries. These assets include a villa in Switzerland, houses, apartments and villas in Britain, residences and a castle in Paris and an airplane in Malta.

“I personally think that she will be sentenced to a longer term under the second case,” said Daniil Kislov, the Moscow-based editor of Ferghana, a website that tracks developments in Central Asia.

“They will never let her out of Uzbekistan,” Mr. Kislov said. “She knows too much.”

During almost three decades of his ruthless rule, Islam Karimov turned Uzbekistan into one of the most isolated and repressive countries in the world. Local news media outlets were under tight control, and few foreign media organizations were allowed inside the country. In 2005, Mr. Karimov oversaw the massacre of hundreds of protesters in the city of Andijon.

Mr. Karimov was succeeded by his ally and former prime minister, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who announced a number of changes, including easing restrictions on the currency market and attempts to build bridges with Uzbekistan’s neighbors in the region. However, analysts have been skeptical about the new ruler’s willingness to make substantive, lasting reforms.