12 july 2020

Central Asia news

That awkward moment! Gulnara Karimova has a new PR team

23.09.2014 12:12 msk


Human Rights Politics Interview Uzbekistan

Many Russian and European mass media circulated images depicting Gulnara Karimova rudely held by hands by people in fatigues. Ms. Karimova’s “official representative,” Locksley Ryan of Davidson Ryan Dore, provided the images in question.

The images were annotated with commentaries:

“Gulnara Karimova is held under house arrest for purely political reasons. It is no coincidence that the recent awkward step the elite took is taken ahead of the upcoming presidential election campaign. During this campaign, the support Gulnara apparently continues to enjoy would pose a threat to those people, who are in her father’s entourage and are willing to maintain their unhealthy influence. However, Gulnara has always remained away from political campaigns out of respect for her father, and I can confirm that she is not interested in politics of modern Uzbekistan.

“As Gulnara has repeatedly stated, she is absolutely innocent of accusations levied against her. She is prepared to stand before any court that would ensure supremacy of law in order to exonerate her reputation. The [fact] that the Military Court of Uzbekistan has already found her partners guilty at a closed hearing leaves almost no chances for fair trial of Gulnara’s [case] in regular judicial proceedings in Uzbekistan.

“Meanwhile, Gulnara remains under house arrest along with her daughter and continue requiring emergency medical attention. It is to be added, that those holding her and her daughter [under house arrest] are systematically starving them by preventing any food given to them [presumably from outside the house].

“Gulnara is appealing to the international community directly with a request to support the supremacy of law and to demand that her fate is established at independent courts and not by those fighting for their own political benefits.”

Gulnara Karimova under the care of warders
Gulnara Karimova under the care of warders

Obviously, this press release sheds no light whatsoever to the status quo Gulnara Karimova is in. If anything, it only stirred more questions. We decided to ask Jelena Kudelko of Davidson Ryan Dore as she was indicated as a contact person in the press release. Jelena asked to provide her with written questions and was quite quick to respond.

- How long has your company been cooperating with Gulnara Karimova?

- Three months.

- How do you contact her given she is under house arrest?

- We obtain information with the help of various sources, which, for obvious reasons, we will not identify.

- Are not such contacts prohibited under the Uzbek legislation?

- Are laws upheld in Uzbekistan?

- Are you authorized to represent her interests in international courts? Are you involved in defending Karimova’s interests in Switzerland? (The Swiss prosecutors suspect Ms. Karimova is involved in money laundering – editors)

- Gulnara’s lawyers insist that impartial Swiss courts try her case; however, she has no access to her lawyers to make this possible.

- The press release reads [in part], “As Gulnara has repeatedly stated, she is absolutely innocent of accusations levied against her. <…> Gulnara is appealing to the international community directly with a request to support the supremacy of law and to demand that her fate is established at independent courts and not by those fighting for their own political benefits.” Does this mean Uzbek authorities have already charged her? What exactly is she accused of? Also, is Gulnara Karimova prepared to stand before court in Switzerland?

- We do not know what she is accused of in Uzbekistan. Gulnara is ready to stand before any court that upholds the supremacy of law.

- Rumors had it in Uzbekistan earlier this year that Gulnara Karimova has secretly traveled Riga, Latvia, while this whole story with house arrest is “played out” for press and the international community. However, it is impossible to confirm the veracity of these rumors. How could one establish that these photographs were indeed taken in Tashkent? We know that it is impossible to approach the house where the VIP-arrestee is kept – everything is vigorously guarded and anyone wielding anything with a [camera] lens would be noticed.

- These photographs show that Gulnara is surrounded by guards. We will not provide any other details for obvious reasons – the need to protect the person who made those photographs.

- Are you aware of any details of her [condition under] house arrest?

- No.

- How many people are guarding the house wherein Gulnara Karimova and her daughter are held? Are they helped around the house? How is food delivered to the house? (If the guards are not letting any food into the house, then who is bringing groceries to the house?) If one of the arrestees feels ill, how would doctors be called to attend to them?

- If you are asking whether anyone is helping around the house, then you are seriously underestimating the situation’s seriousness. The fact of the matter is that Gulnara and her daughter are deprived of food for days. Both of them are in need of emergency medical attention.

- If your company has the capability to contact Gulnara Karimova, would she agree for an interview with us?

- Gulnara would like to give an interview, but she is unable to talk to anybody except the guards who are treating her brutishly.

* * *

Ms. Kudelko’s answers did not necessarily clarify the matters around Gulnara Karimova. The only thing that became clear is that Gulnara Karimova is launching an active PR campaign to defend herself. However, when an official representative of the Uzbek president’s daughter completely seriously claims, “Gulnara and her daughter are deprived of food for days,” then all other claims lose seriousness and acquire the traits of exaggeration for PR purposes.

We have therefore asked Arkadiy Dubnov, an expert on Central Asia, to comment on the situation around Gulnara.

“I am assuming an unclear and inclement story is unfolding around Gulnara Karimova. I am assuming that she is finding herself in a difficult situation given her limitations in movement and communication. But the language the PR agents she hired are using is turning this story into a rather platitudinous show. ‘Defenders’ seriously claiming the Uzbek president’s daughter and granddaughter are ‘deprived of food for days’ demonstrate their complete lack of knowledge of what is possible and what is absolutely impossible in this country. The London-based people engaged in this business must understand that they shouldn’t be throwing around such claims without convincing evidences. This ‘glamour’ style of defense, which was characteristic to Gulnara herself during the brighter times of her life, completely nullifies any trust [in the truthfulness] of what is claimed about her current situation.

“With this backdrop, what else could be said about these defenders’ claims that a presidential electoral campaign is currently underway in Uzbekistan and Gulnara Karimova continues to enjoy support in this matter. I reckon this [claim] would surprise the absolute majority of Uzbek citizens, who have no idea about the upcoming presidential elections and about Gulnara’s participation in this process despite her unwillingness to strive [for the top post], as her PR agents are claiming. Based on this, one concludes that the target audience of this press release is the public opinion in the West and the European political elite, which is expected to believe and apply every effort to rid Gulnara of judicial prosecution currently underway in several European countries.”

Mariya Yanovskaya

Fergana international information agency.