Gulnara Karimova, once a socialite, fashion designer, and the Uzbeki heir apparent, has disappeared from view after reportedly falling out of favor with her father.
From the Guardian:
Gulnara Karimova, once the favoured daughter and presumed successor to her father’s autocratic mantle, told the Guardian in December that her sister and mother were engaged in a plot to turn her father against her. In February, her Twitter account, an extraordinary – if at times only semi-coherent – peephole into what was really happening at the centre of power and inside her troubled family, vanished.
Since then, Karimova has seemingly dropped from view and, in an interview with Shaun Walker, Karimova's son (the dictator's grandson) said that she is under house arrest.
He says the last time he heard from his mother was in March, when there was still infrequent phone contact. Since then, there has been nothing, save for a few text messages sent from anonymous numbers, apparently from his mother. “I doubt that it’s them, because it was in a different style,” says Karimov Jr.
Prior to her disappearance, Karimova was a known entity in fashion and diplomatic circles:
Karimova has a carefully managed reputation in Uzbekistan, but has been called "the single most hated person in the country" in U.S. cables published by Wikileaks, and is widely viewed as a robber barron."
Some speculate that Karimova's rep for theft, public trashing of Uzbeki officials, and other strange behavior had infuriated her father enough to cause him to finally take aggressive action. From Newsweek:
Karimov’s patience came to an end at dawn on February 17 of this year. “Ten SUVs with military in full gear—like for capturing terrorists—took over the [neighborhood] from both sides,” according to Karimova’s own account. Armed heavies surrounded her mansion in Tashkent and 41-year-old Karimova, her 15-year-old daughter and her boyfriend, Rustam Madumarov, were arrested. She claims Muijon Tokhiriy—head of the President’s Security Services—roughed her up.
Ever since, Karimova has been under house arrest. A single, smuggled-out photo shows her disheveled and without makeup, sitting on an unmade bed drinking from a carton of chocolate milk."
Karimova briefly ignited a controversy in 2011 when IMG dropped her fashion show from New York's Fashion Week after protesters materialized to draw focus on her country's use of child labor. She moved her show to Cipriani's in Manhattan, where it was panned.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.