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Uzbekistan's first daughter slams 'imbecile' officials

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Uzbekistan's powerful first daughter Gulnara Karimova has lashed out at corrupt officials in unusually frank public comments while continuing to deny personal political ambitions to succeed her father.

The eldest daughter of Uzbekistan's long-serving President Islam Karimov at a rare news conference on Thursday slammed corruption and "imbecility" within officialdom.

Harvard-educated Karimova, 40, has become the public face of the ex-Soviet country, serving as its permanent representative in the United Nations in Geneva.

She also runs her own jewellery and clothing lines, heads a number of charity projects and has released a pop duet with French actor Gerard Depardieu.

Gulnara's father, 75, has ruled the country since the collapse of the Soviet Union and Karimova is closely watched as a possible successor to him although she always denies such ambitions.

"While we have very good specialists, good laws and decrees... there are difficulties with the implementation," she told journalists in Tashkent, complaining that officials were deliberately misinterpreting rulings.

"When it comes to the interpretation in ministries and departments, that's where there is imbecility," she said.

Sometimes bureaucrats remove pages of presidential decrees signed by Karimov and add in pages with their own wording, she complained.

She insisted her comments were simply about exercising democracy and promoting openness.

Yet last month she wrote harsh comments on Twitter about First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov, fuelling speculation about a power struggle between two would-be successors to the presidency of the ex-Soviet country bordering Afghanistan.

She also criticised other officials including the head of Uzbekistan's Fund for Development and Reconstruction, as well as a presidential advisor and the culture minister.

On Twitter, Karimova accused Azimov of lack of transparency and not caring about social welfare, saying he ran hi-tech alternative energy projects with funding from the government and Asian Development Bank "in secrecy."

In her latest comments, Karimova complained that her critics were trying to find a political element in everything she does.

"I am friends with Azimov. We often meet, discuss some issues," she said.

Speaking for almost three hours, Karimova slammed her Western critics in characteristically forthright style, reading out articles posted on opposition websites and accusing journalists of "provoking" her.

Reacting to criticism for posing bare-shouldered in a fashion-shoot, a shock to some in the mainly Muslim country, she stressed that there was nothing weird about public figures posing as a models.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi once given a speech in shorts to promote energy saving, she argued.

"What is an Uzbek ambassador to the UN in comparison?" she asked rhetorically.

Yet when asked about her plans for the next parliamentary elections in 2014 and presidential elections in 2015, she repeated a popular saying: "If you want to make God laugh, tell him what you'll do in the next five minutes".

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130504/uzbekistans-first-daughter-slams-imbecile-officials