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Viewing cable 05TASHKENT2473, GULNORA KARIMOVA LOOKS TO IMPROVE HER IMAGE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05TASHKENT2473 2005-09-13 14:02 2010-12-12 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tashkent
O 131405Z SEP 05
FM AMEMBASSY TASHKENT
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4111
INFO AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 
AMEMBASSY ALMATY 
AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 
AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 
DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L TASHKENT 002473 


DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CACEN, EB 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/13/15 
TAGS: PREL ECON PGOV PINR UZ
SUBJECT: GULNORA KARIMOVA LOOKS TO IMPROVE HER IMAGE 

CLASSIFIED BY AMB. JON R. PURNELL, FOR REASONS 1.4 (B, D). 

1. (C) Summary: In the last month, several Uzbek 
publications have carried articles about the good works of 
First Daughter Gulnora Karimova. The articles focus on her 
selfless giving, charity work, and business acumen. One, an 
interview with Russian scholar Aleksi Malashenko, discusses 
Gulnora's chances of replacing her father as president in 
2007. The discussion of the honest, hardworking Gulnora, 
looking out for the best interests of her country, likely 
irks the many business people who have been crushed by 
Karimova and her greed as well as the general public, who 
view her as something of a robber baron. This media 
campaign is definitely a move by Karimova to improve her 
image, possibly as the first step to a 2007 presidential 
run, but also likely as a means to silence critics within 
elite Uzbek circles. 

PATRON OF THE ARTS, CHILDREN AND THE POOR 
------------------------------------------ 

2. (U) On September 1, Tasvir, a widely read family 
magazine, published a two-page article praising Karimova's 
donations to schools and orphanages throughout the country. 
As a member of "Women's Meeting," an organization charged 
with the welfare of children, families and the elderly, 
Gulnora put on a children's production of the Lion King in 
schools in Samarkand, Bukhara, Jizzax, Gulistan, Fergana, 
and Kokand. Gulnora's personal charity fund, "Mekhr Nuri" 
(Lights of Love or Mercy) also works throughout the regions 
and has provided furniture and other school supplies to 
facilities in Namangan, Syrdarya, Kokand, and Bukhara. The 
youth-movement-run newspaper Kamolot praised Karimova for 
her role in giving scholarships to under-privileged students 
under the Forum of Culture and Art of Uzbekistan. Karimova 
is chair of this foundation. The first Daughter also heads 
the Center for Political Studies. 

SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE BUSINESSWOMAN 
----------------------------------- 

3. (C) An August 18 article, also in Tasvir, praised 
Gulnora for her role in upgrading the services of the 
cellular telephone company Uzdunrobita. According to the 
article, Uzdonrobita's technology was outdated. Gulnora 
then "bought" the company, modernized the equipment and 
found the right partner, Russian MTS, to continue key 
developments. (Note: The price MTS paid per subscriber was 
significantly above the market rate. Gulnora, who acquired 
the company at rock bottom rates, made a considerable sum of 
money on the transaction. End note.) In this piece, 
Gulnora noted that businesses are like precious stones, they 
only obtain value once they are processed and improved. 
(Comment: This statement likely irks the multitude of 
business people Gulnora has usurped or put out of business 
through her government connections. Most of these 
businesses were profitable in their own right, which is what 
attracted the First Daughter to them in the first place. 
End comment.) 

STANDING ON HER HIGH MORALS AND PRINCIPLES 
------------------------------------------ 
4. (C) In an interview published on September 8, Karimova 
told an Uzbek paper, Darakchi that she is a highly 
principled person who listens to her conscience. She 
stressed that she can't stand treachery or lies. She sees 
herself as open and even-handed, and demands the same from 
those around her. She even went so far as to say that 
people treat you the way you treat them, and if you don't 
treat others well, you will "find yourself in a blind 
alley." (Comment: The many people crushed by Karimova 
would likely relish the chance to catch her blind in an 
alley. End comment.) 

THE NEXT PRESIDENT? 
------------------- 

5. (C) On September 6, Ferghana.ru published an interview 
with Russian professor Aleksi Malashenko in which he 
discusses the potential of a Gulnora Karimova campaign for 
president in 2007. While, Malashenko, a member of the 
Moscow Carnegie Center and Professor at the Moscow State 
Institute of International Relations, noted that Karimova's 
chances of becoming president were infinitesimally low 
because of the scandals surrounding her business ventures, 
simply mentioning the possible in a public forum raises 
Garimova's profile. 

COMMENT: WHAT'S BEHIND THE PRESS CAMPAIGN? 
------------------------------------------- 

6. (C) The unusual series of articles promoting the virtue 
and selflessness of Gulnora Karimova is likely part of a 
larger strategy to clean up the First Daughter's image. 
Most Uzbeks see Karimova as a greedy, power hungry 
individual who uses her father to crush business people or 
anyone else who stands in her way. Even with the press 
campaign to improve her image, Gulnora is continuing to do 
business, pressuring and shutting down competitors. This 
charm offensive will not likely make her more popular; she 
remains the single most hated person in the country. 
(Comment: We have no polling data to support that 
statement, but we stand by it. End comment.) The chances 
of a successful 2007 presidential run for Karimova are slim 
to none, as neither the people, nor, more importantly, the 
elite, would support her. In addition, it is unlikely that 
many in this still very conservative culture would accept 
the idea of a female leader. High-level female officials 
are still tokens, relegated to traditional female issues. 
That said, the political climate is changing rapidly here, 
and these articles could be a trial balloon. 

PURNELL
LL, FOR REASONS 1.4 (B, D)...