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.

Allowed HTML - you can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

35 thoughts on “Rumblings in Tashkent

1 2
  • anno

    ‘We have never been and will never be at war with Islam’. Bugger. You’ve broken the lie detector. It’s a very delicate piece of equipment you know, and it’s not designed for full Presidential, superpower, public lies, only for petty criminals and local gangsters.

    Next time please switch its control function button to FAILED STATE mode before Obama and Cameron deliver major speeches to the world.

  • angrysoba

    “Get back to Sarah and Dan, tell them your cover has been blown by Mark Golding or I will!”

    Mark, what on Earth are you wittering about right now?

  • tashkent

    Hello Craig!

    This is a personal message to you. Sorry, I cannot refer to you like Sir, Mr, tovarisch or akajon … It is just not in my blood. I do believe that all people are equal and need no prefixes before their names.

    Well, we never met before, but I read your articles or comments about situations concerning Uzbekistan carefully. I love my country and know how people live in any region of it. I traveled a lot within and outside of Uzbekistan. Got my education and also had a chance to work in the US and one of the EU countries. I’m one of those Umidies (presidential foundation, if you remember)… and now I’m jobless and struggling to make a living for few years. This “unemployment fortune” concerns not only me, but about 70% of young people of Uzbekistan (I got this estimate number while talking to makhalla leaders in private). I simply deny to work for this system of “womb to tomb level” corruption. I’m worried about my family members, thus I try to keep a low profile. However, when it comes to debate with higher level guys tet-a-tet, I hit them very badly.

    I know that Zeromax has swindled nations’ money out of Uzbekistan and it lays comfortably in one of the Swiss banks. But, I’m specificly interested in two things, and would highly appreciate if you could enlight me about them:

    1. Who is Ikromjon Yokubov, stated as group manager of Zeromax in the Zug canton registrar of companies? It is obvious that Mirodil Djalalov, CEO of the company is just a puppet. Is this Yokubov the one who asked for a political asylium from the UK in 2008? The press says that he used to be a secret service major. If so, then why is he helping Gulanara Karimova with her business?

    2. Are there any proofs that Shirin Akiner, the UK citizen, got 1 million bucks from Islam Karimov to take care of his PR affairs and “positive image” in Europe? By some sources she consulted about 10 English speaking secret service people, and organized a study in England for 2 of them. First is Alyor Tilavev (who also worked as press-attache at the embassy of Uzbekistan in London in 2007), and the second is Ulugbek Khudaybergenov (nephew of Tursunkhan Khudayberdiev, ex state advisor of the president on law enforcement bodies’ coordination). Was the UK government aware of that, and if yes, then why did Shirin Akiner get “green light”?

    P.S. – Can I get a digital version of your book? You know that it is impossible for me to get it the right way.

  • Rich

    For those who didn’t catch it earlier, Edward Stourton reported from Kyrgystan and the wider region on radio 4 Today programme earlier.

1 2

Comments are closed.