Funeral plans underway following death of long-ruling president of Uzbekistan Karimov
Karimov ruled with an iron fist, tolerating little dissent. Uzbekistan borders the troubled states of Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and has maintained stability through pressure and violence. (AFP/File)
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A funeral was planned Saturday for Uzbekistan's long-ruling president Islam Karimov, after the death of the authoritarian ruler following a stroke.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he plans to attend the funeral, which was being organized by Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev in Karimov's hometown of Samarkand.
One of his daughters, Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, confirmed Karimov's death late Friday. "He has left us," she wrote on her Facebook page.
Several Russian news agencies said Karimov, 78, had succumbed to complications after suffering a stroke last week. Uzbek government websites, including the state news agency, were unavailable late Friday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called Karimov's death "a heavy loss for the people of Uzbekistan," in a Kremlin statement.
Karimov, who ruled the Central Asian country for more than a quarter-century since the fall of the Soviet Union, permitted almost no opposition since becoming taking power on Uzbekistan's independence. He has no clear successor.
Mirziyoyev, a member of his close inner circle, is considered a likely successor.
Karimov ruled with an iron fist, tolerating little dissent. Uzbekistan borders the troubled states of Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and has maintained stability through pressure and violence.
Uzbekistan has remained largely within Russia's sphere of influence since Soviet times but has also provided crucial footing for the US war in Afghanistan, allowing US forces to use a major Uzbek airbase.
US President Barack Obama noted that the 25th anniversary of Uzbekistan's independence was this week.
"At this challenging time of President Islam Karimov's passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the people of Uzbekistan," Obama said.
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