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Uzbek first daughter confirms media empire shutdown

31 october 2013, 12:00
Designer Gulnara Karimova (L), daughter of Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov, stands with a model after presenting her Guli Collection. ©Reuters/Jason Lee
Designer Gulnara Karimova (L), daughter of Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov, stands with a model after presenting her Guli Collection. ©Reuters/Jason Lee
The eldest daughter of Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov Wednesday confirmed the closure of television channels she is believed to control, as rumours build of a rift in the ruling family, AFP reports.

Pop star and fashion designer Gulnara Karimova confirmed on Twitter that the Uzbek Agency for Press and Information had shut down the entertainment channels over 12 separate violations.

"However stupid this list may sound, but yes!" Karimova wrote in response to a question from a follower, breaking her silence on why three channels disappeared from the air last week.

One of her followers had asked her to confirm the government had ordered the shutdown of the private television channels.

"The official formulation for their closure is fantastic. Moreover, not one of them is backed up by anything! It's a ludicrous list of the names of laws," Karimova added.

The channels -- ForumTV, SofTS and Markaz-TVM -- went off the air simultaneously on October 21. A fourth channel believed to be owned by Karimova's business partner also went black.

The entertainment channels were known for repeating Karimova's music videos daily as well as running cartoons and movies.

Karimova's three FM radio stations later stopped broadcasting on October 24.

One of her Twitter followers, named Karl, listed 12 violations by the television channels, including breaches of legislation on mass media, copyright, licencing and youth policy.

It was not apparent how he obtained this information, which has not been made public, but Karimova confirmed it.

"How did you get the list? I gather it is already public knowledge?!" Karimova replied.

Uzbek authorities could not be reached for comment and their total silence only fuelled the rumours.

The 40-year-old runs jewelry and cosmetics businesses and several charity foundations. Until recently she was Uzbekistan's permanent representative in the United Nations in Geneva and its ambassador to Spain.

In the last few weeks, there has been a sudden surge of rumours inside and outside the secretive Central Asian country about Karimova, who until recently was the poster girl for her 75-year-old father's government.

Opposition websites have suggested that Karimova is being punished for her outspoken remarks on the Internet about her family and the way she runs her charity foundations and businesses.

Karimova's younger sister, Lola Karimova-Tillayeva, gave an interview to the BBC Uzbek Service last month saying she had not spoken to her sister for 12 years.

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