Rumblings in Tashkent 35

There is much consternation at the apparent decline of Gulnara Karimova’s multi-billion dollar company, Zeromax – which owns Uzbekistan’s most valuable economic assets.

Gulnara is of course the daughter and favoured successor of dictator “President” Islam Karimov. Zeromax is, in addition to interests encompassing gold, uranium, coal, cement, cotton, hotels, night clubs and sex-trafficking, the Pentagon’s major conduit for land supply to US forces in Afghanistan.

The immediate cause of the shutdown appears to be arrears of US $440 million on multi billion loans given to Zeromax by the Uzbek government. The loans were secured on assets which Zeromax obtained in the first place for next to nothing from the Uzbek government’s closed “privatisation” process, otherwise known as “let the President’s daughter have everything”. Zeromax has never made any attempt to repay any of the loans.

Outside analysts are speculating that the moves against Zeromax represent a power grab against Gulnara by Prime Minister Mirzayev (the man who ordered the specific Murder in Samarkand which became the title of my book).

That seems to me improbable. More likely Zeromax has simply outlived its usefulness as a vehicle. I suspect that it is repositioning, simply. Zeromax worked pretty well for several years as a front to hide the fact that the Karimovs were hiving off much of Uzbekistan’s economic production for personal benefit. The cover has been well and truly blown for a couple of years now and Zeromax was attracting jealousy. So it gets jettisoned like a snake shedding an old skin. I don’t think you’ll find Gulnara has lost a penny.

If Zeromax goes down, its debts will be written off, and I will be astonished if the productive assets do not still remain under the control of the Karimovs, in a new vehicle or variety of vehicles.

Much more worrying is further evidence of the reach of the Karimovs in Washington. Paid Karimov lobbyist and former lawyer for Zeromax, Carolyn Lamm, is now President of the American Bar Association – how sickening is that?,1

Presumably Lamm played a key role in the huge Pentagon supply contracts landed by Zeromax.

Almost worse, in the light of Karimov’s banning of all anti-Aids organisations and jailing of Maksim Popov,

is that Gulnara Karimova was feted at Cannes by Amfar – the American Foundation for Aids Research – as co-chair of their mega celebrity bash Cinema Against Aids at Cannes.

I several times telephoned AMFAR to ask how thay could justify celebrating Gulnara (two years running now), in the light of her regime’s purblind attitude to AIDS – not to mention the fact that the Karimov-Dostum narcotics trafficking racket is the main cause of AIDS in Uzbekistan. AMFAR refused to answer or return my calls.

I call for a boycott of AMFAR because of their continuing friendly links with the Uzbek regime. I do hope that people will continue to donate money for AIDS research, but to other less tainted charities.

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35 thoughts on “Rumblings in Tashkent

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  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    “Carolyn Lamm, is now President of the American Bar Association – how sickening is that?”

    Absolutely disgusting and obviously bound up with the “Pentagon’s major conduit for land supply to US forces in Afghanistan” which we have discussed before.

    I will re-post your blog Craig because this corruption is a classic example of ‘turning a blind eye’ to satisfy the needs of invasion and war.

  • Jon

    Presumably the regime knows why AIDS is spreading in the country. On that basis, why are they taking such a regressive position on needle/contraception programmes? I would have thought that if someone decided to become involved in the distribution of heroin, that it would not be helpful to draw attention to oneself by having a worsening HIV crisis as well.

  • Craig


    Good point. I can only think it is a policy of not damitting it is happening. Given the massive scale of heroin addiction (see the eponymous chapter of murder in samarkand) the official figures are certainly much too low.

  • Neil Barker

    Please, Craig! Just send me the book! I need to read it!! Go on, be a gent. I’ll even vote Liberal next election!

  • Iain Orr

    Who is the BBC’s correspondent in Tashkent? Don’t we pay our licence fee to make sure that stories like this are properly treated by public ervice broadcasting?

    Even better (I’m not sure how often the BBC does this) would be to have whoever it is in Tashkent and Mark Mardell in Washington giving complementary perspectives on the Uzbekistan/ USA relationship.

  • Jon

    I sense some decent trouble-making opportunity here. I’ve never heard of AMFAR, but if they are high-profile in the AIDS research community there must be a few groups on the internet that have joint ventures with them. I wonder if getting in touch with said groups and explaining that AMFAR won’t even take calls on the matter – might help persuade the latter to be a touch more talkative? 🙂

  • Abe Rene

    Neil Barber: it costs about £6 on the internet, or £8 in shops. So all you need do is ingest nothing but water for two days and you’re there! Let me tell you that it’s fascinating and unputdownable, including mention of an attempt at a sexual world record – I will not say whether the mention is real or rhetorical, and I will say no more as kids may be reading this. There are happenings that are greater than anything conspiracy theorists could come up with. There are secrets not available to all that enable the Few to get bags of gold and be surrounded by beautiful women – look at the author, if you don’t believe me. So as not to give away too much, I cannot confirm or deny stories about the “potion of Tashkent”, that theoretically enables people to be young and irresistible till the age of 100!

    You see, well worth 48 hours of fasting for. The question is: do you want it badly enough? Remember the series “SAS: are you tough enough?” WILL YOU go without fish and chips and good beer (or whatever) for 48 hours? THE CHOICE IS YOURS! Tell us if you make the Correct Choice, and your impression of reading it if you do.

  • Abe Rene

    PS. If you take my previous message as anything other than a joke, you do so at your own risk.

  • uzbekistan

    On one point I would not at all agree with some commentators about the addiction of Heroin in Uzbekistan. I have lived for 18 years in uzbekistan and would definitely commend the efforts of Uzbekistan Government for controlling the menace of Heroin. If somebody will have the opportunity of visiting OSH in South Kyrgyzstan and would take a walk to the mountain he would find 100s of Thousands needles. Near Tashkent a Small town Yangyul had developed the infrastructure of Heroin Users and sellers but Uzbek Security agencies have destroyed that group controlling the Narcotic trade.

    In Central Asia Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan have serious problems about Heroin usage. But our misguided liberals in their pursuit of settling Score with the President Islam karimov are blaming every thing bad to him every thing good to other governments. I have noted that liberals are 99.99999999% better Human beings than average Human being (my own Opinion) and are more sensitive to human suffering but they should not forget and should not be carried away by their emotions.

    I was myself KIDNAPPED by Uzbekistan security Agencies on 10th December 2009 and Found and released on 12th April 2010. I still am trying to seek justice through system. But I still can differentiate between truth and lie, fact and fiction. Uzbekistan is a great country, it is an oasis of prosperity, It has its problems which can be handled

    in a better way and we should engage and not confront.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    “Much more worrying is further evidence of the reach of the Karimovs in Washington. Paid Karimov lobbyist and former lawyer for Zeromax, Carolyn Lamm, is now President of the American Bar Association – how sickening is that?”

    Really? This is much more worrying? So are you saying that the rest of what you wrote is not as worrying as this person being the head of the ABA?

    Why would you think that being the head of the ABA would count for anything? If you knew anything, you’d know that the ABA is not all that influential. For instance, the ABA has strongly advocated against the death penalty for years. Really to no avail.

    “Presumably Lamm played a key role in the huge Pentagon supply contracts landed by Zeromax.”

    Well that’s a big leap isn’t it Craig Murray?

    To state the obvious, we can be sure that a large conglomerate has all sorts of attorneys and lobbyists working for it. So you’ve named one. And then you impute all of the actions of that large conglomerate to her.

    Your standards of evidence resemble those of your nutcase truther followers.

    I used to work at White & Case, and in some minor part for Carolyn Lamm. I suppose I’m also responsible for the Zeromax contracts with the Pentagon.

  • Clark

    God knows what you’re responsible for, Larry. You’ve shown no heart, and precious little sense, on this blog.

    And yes, Karimov’s influence on the US (and UK) government is much more worrying than the fake demise of Zeromax.

    See? No sense; you didn’t even check the context.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    “AMFAR refused to answer or return my calls.

    I call for a boycott of AMFAR because of their continuing friendly links with the Uzbek regime.”

    No, you’re calling for a boycott among your idiot truther followers because the people at AMFAR figured out pretty quickly that you’re a nutcase who coddles other nutcases. They don’t return your calls because you’re a nut.

    But, hilariously, your boycott will amount to nothing.

  • Craig

    Larry –

    Lamm was their lead lawyer in Washington. The contract was negotiated in Washington. It seems a reasonable presumption – and I label it a presumption.

    So you think AMFAR’s association with Gulnara Karimova is fine? Care to explain why?

    I am deleting your usual 9/11 references. You are obesessed with 9/11.

  • Craig

    Larry –

    Though I must say, the fact that you worked for Karimov’s lawyers and lobbyists – accepting you may not have worked on the Uzbekistan brief – says a great deal about your background and profession and just why you may be putting in so many hours to attacking this blog and trying falsely to link me to 9/11 conspiracy.

  • Nomad


    says we should engage not confront. Well you have been engaged for the last 20 years. You don’t care about sufferings of people in that country, what you care is what counts to material source there. Why do you think they have kidnapped you? Why did they release you? And do you know there thousands of those ordinary muslims or opposition members kidnapped by Uzbek security people and have never been released. Even their relatives don’t know if they are alive or not. Karimov deserved a regime change not Saddam.

  • Abe Rene

    Larry from St Louis: You can’t expect depictions of Craig as an idiot to be taken seriously, because he has scaled heights that are too high, perhaps much higher than your own accomplishments. How many people have you even met who have had “Excellency” before their name?

    I wonder what your own motives are. I’ll leave it to others to guess.

  • Craig


    That is a ridiculously mendacious bit of selective quotation because you leave out the balancing material immediately associated with it. It is like you quoted “A man may smile and smile yet still be a villain” just as “A man may smile and smile”.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq


    Using human nature in an attempt to break the integrity of a good man who has exposed torture and complicity in those fowl acts is, well, filthy.

    Clinton’s flirting is… no more words are required here.

    No Charles – your attempts at character destruction have failed and made you look, well, a bit stupid.

  • Jon

    Charles, your endless recycling of that part of Craig’s own writing is becoming tedious. Or is it just an echo reverberating around the empty comments sections on your blog?

    You appear to take up positions just to disagree with Craig, but you haven’t commented on the substance of the post. Is Zeromax a front, or a legitimate business, in your view? What is your perspective on Lamm’s response to the FP article (page 3 from the same link)? Is Gulnara a torturer who cares not a jot for the Uzbek people, from whose toil she lives the high life, or is it more nuanced than that? Should the US be doing business with them at all? Why is Miliband (the evil of two lessers) so keen to bury British complicity with torture?

  • Piotr

    Charles Crawford – cyber stalker! It really is darkly amusing watching the way he repeatedly pops up on here, clearly uncontrollably jealous of the attention paid to his erstwhile colleague.

    I can understand why: the last time I looked at his miserable “blogoir” (admittedly some time ago, but there is a limit to the amount of self-obsessed rambling to which a reader should be subject) he had disabled the function showing the number of comments because…there weren’t any!

    How it must rankle with him that he’s addressing an empty room. I have to admit to feeling some pity for the man.

  • Jon

    @Abe – I tend not to get too distracted by Larry, as he has repeatedly been unwilling to engage on a non-confrontational basis. But I am the eternal optimist, and I will engage with his debates if he suddenly becomes constructive.

    I am sure Suhayl will forgive me for appropriating his question to Larry: are you on the bus, Larry? What would you talk about, on the bus, if we all were not hiding behind screens? Are you able to disagree amicably on the bus?

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