The questions surrounding the incarceration of Gulnara Karimova, debutante daughter of Uzbekistan’s former president, can seem at times too numerous to count, from the state of her health to the hundreds of millions of dollars in bribery allegations to which she’s tied. But a recent story in the Wall Street Journal helped shine a bit of light on the status of one of the figures linked closely to Karimova years-long house arrest: Karimova’s teenage daughter.
Since Karimova was arrested in 2014, the handful of reports detailing the fate of her daughter, Iman, noted that the two were being held under house arrest together. As Iman was still technically a child, the news wasn’t altogether surprising that she remained with her mother — save, however, for the fact that Iman, unlike her mother, is an American citizen, and hadn’t been found guilty of any crimes. The fact that the authorities in Uzbekistan were reportedly jailing an American teenager never got much play in the U.S. press, nor from American officials in public. Tashkent, as it is, claimed the reports were incorrect, and that Iman wasn’t under house arrest.
The recent piece from WSJ may lend some credence to Tashkent’s claims and may help explain Washington’s silence. According to the write-up, Iman “was allowed to visit [Karimova] a few times under strict control,” implying that Iman, rather than being holed up with her mother, was actually elsewhere. Likewise, Karimova’s lawyer told WSJ she was “banned from communicating with the outside world, be it her children or her own lawyers.” Per one of Karimova’s lawyers, Karimova “appeared courageous and combative during the December hearings, but burst into tears when the situation of her children … was mentioned.”
All told, the biggest takeaway from the article may be the simple fact that Karimova, despite rumors in late 2015, appears to still be alive and continues to face charges relating to one of the largest bribery cases ever, or at least over the past decade. As Karimova’s lawyer related, she “is confined to a small annex at her former house in the center of Tashkent.” Still, while the news fits with the broader softening surrounding the ascendance of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, there’s little likelihood Karimova will be freed in the foreseeable future, especially with the hundreds of millions of dollars tied to her on the line.