Où est Googoosha?

7 Oct

Mystery continues to surround the whereabouts of Gulnara Karimova, estranged eldest daughter of the late president of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov.

Following last month’s Karexit in Uzbekistan, the rumour mill has been working overtime as to where the artist formerly known as Googoosha could be. Under house arrest in Tashkent since 2014, ‘reliable sources’ have spotted her in a variety of locations recently.

GooGoosha and Gerard

Googoosha in happier days with Russian actor Herard Depardieu

Some hold that she is in Israel, others Switzerland. Another report placed her in a shopping mall in Zhanaozen, Kazakhstan with Elvis Presley and Prince.

The UK’s Daily Mail, quoting the journalists’ best friend ‘reliable sources’, has her committed to a psychiatric facility in Uzbekistan.

There are also rumours that she has resurrected her twitter persona in the form of Aфина, using the handle @zabitaya1972.

Wherever she may be, Lord Venal would love to meet up with the fallen diva. In a Proustian moment this week, his long-suffering assistant found among his effects a battered beermat from a well-known Tashkent nightclub with a loving dedication from a Gulnara. “To my mysterious and georgeous [sic] English lord,” she wrote. She added her mobile number and two kisses.


Lord Venal was instantly taken back to the heady days of 2012-3 when, on frequent business visits to Uzbekistan to advise clients on offshore banking, he kept running into the captivating blonde at various nightspots who, to be honest, turned his head. Gulnara would never say who she was, but hinted that her father had an important job and that she was a singer. Indeed, Lord Venal modestly notes that he sang love duets with her several times as the crowds watched adoringly. Sadly, he lost the selfies he took with her when he changed his mobile phone.

As Lord Venal is planning some further trips to Tashkent, he was thinking of renewing contact with the enchanting Gulnara. His assistant tried repeatedly to call the mobile number, but the recorded message says the number has not been assigned. If anyone knows how to make contact with the mysterious blonde, Lord Venal would be eternally grateful.



Venal: Brexit is a ‘Golden Opportunity’ for Uzbekistan

30 Sep

Lord Venal, in his unofficial capacity as the UK’s roving trade envoy in Central Asia, has identified Uzbekistan as a ‘golden opportunity’ for securing new markets for British manufacturing following the pro-Brexit vote in June.

‘We are now in an exciting new phase of UK-Uzbekistan relations,’ Lord Venal told kazaxia. ‘As in the UK, Uzbekistan has recently seen a change of leadership from within the ruling clique, without bothering to ask the voters.’ (Editor’s note: Uzbekistan will hold presidential elections on 4 December, no date has been set for an election in the UK yet)


Canned plov – coming to the UK soon?

‘We are now in the post-Karexit era (Editor’s note: Karexit refers to former President Islam Karimov’s recent demise) and Britain is in a unique position to fix up some exciting trade deals with new president Shavkat  Mirziyoyev.’

One area where the UK excels is in selling arms to dodgy regimes. Uzbekistan, according to Lord Venal, is always in the market for new weaponry to keep its oppressed masses under the cosh.

Shortbread finger biscuits

Classic shortbread finger biscuits on white surface

He also noted that Uzbekistan is similar to the UK as it a nation of tea drinkers. He envisages great opportunities for the UK’s shortbread manufacturers as the biscuit sector in Uzbekistan remains under-developed.

This will please leader of the opposition in the UK, Jeremy ‘Jez we can’ Corbyn, who described the buttery biscuit as his fave in an interview with Mumsnet recently.

tico tuk tuk Cambodia

Move over, black cabs

It’s not all a one-way street – Lord Venal is a big fan of Uzbekistan’s national dish plov, now available for export in cans. Could it replace Chicken Tikka Masala in the nation’s  hearts? And could we one day see Uz-Daewoo Tico Tuk Tuk’s replacing black cabs on London’s streets?

Uzbekistan: The Polyanka Pact

16 Sep

Lord Venal has received a missive from one of his sources in Tashkent revealing the outcome of a secret meeting in Uzbekistan’s capital between heir-apparent Shavkat Mirziyoyev and his long-time sidekick Rustam Azimov.

Shortly after the news broke on 28 August of President Islam Karimov’s hospitalisation, Shavkat apparently invited Rustam to Tashkent’s Polyanka restaurant for a discreet tête-à-tête.

Lord Venal’s source saw a happy looking Rustam leave the restaurant clutching a beermat, while a self-satisfied looking Shavkat dropped his to the floor as he left.

The source retrieved the beermat and found the following formula scribbled on it:

(SM x 2) = (RA=PM x 2) = SM

Our source was puzzled, but Lord Venal sniffed a pact along the lines of the infamous Granita Pact between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in the UK in the 90S.

He has interpreted the coded message to mean that Mirziyoyev will be president for two terms with Azimov as his prime minister. The reins of power will then be handed over to  the PM.

As with all these deals, there’s a catch – Mirziyoyev is widely expected to introduce a 14-year presidential term, thus allowing him to be forever known as Uzbekistan’s longest serving president after serving his two terms allowed in the constitution, beating the late Karimov by a year, who will forever be known as Uzbekistan’s first president.

By that time Azimov will be in his mid-8os – a classic case of better late then never.


The Best Exotic Marigold Presidential Lodge

9 Sep

Are you an ailing dictator, struggling to maintain your country amid failing health?

Do you fear ending up bearing the burdens of state alone and with no support?

Were you shocked by Islam Karimov’s lonely final years and death?

If so, join the growing international trend of high-end presidential lodges. These lodges gather presidents from several neighbouring countries in a cluster of excellence, with all facilities a modern dictator expects, at affordable prices. In your sunset years, combine running your fiefdom with discreet and dignified support, surrounded by fellow men who appreciate your talents and gain inspiration from you in their own work to better their nations.

You have your own accommodation, fully serviced with all appropriate staff, but can interact with your fellow-dictators in the lounges and communal areas of the facility. Swap wisdom and anecdotes of days gone by. Discuss how to tackle those pesky problems that afflict even the most accomplished of dictators. Surround yourself with a supportive network of like-minded friends.


Afternoon tea is always a relaxing part of the daily schedule….


Evenings of light fun are just a moment away….

The Best Exotic Marigold Presidential Lodge offers many advantages:

– Seclusion when you need it to tackle weighty matters of state, friends on hand for light relief from the burdens of office

– Equipped with all the latest facilities, including dedicated studio for those nightly television addresses to the nation, complete with all relevant backdrops, national flags and accoutrements

– Dedicated runway 5 kms away to fly in cardiac surgeons and other medical personnel from Moscow, Germany and elsewhere, as well as key presidential advisers like Tony Blair (group rates can be negotiated for talks with more than one resident)

– Secure accommodation in separate block for those troublesome daughters if needed

– Guaranteed discretion for the final days of passing to avoid unseemly speculation by ill-informed citizens

“This is just what the late Islam Abduganievich needed to have avoided the loneliness and indignity of his final years” – a fellow regional president.



Uzbekistan: ‘Butch’ Bites the Dust

5 Sep

News reaches kazaxia from Tashkent that Islom ‘Butch’ Karimov, who in a strange case of mistaken identity became president of Uzbekistan last year, has passed away, just a few days after his namesake Islam Karimov.

Found wandering the streets of Qarshi, Uzbekistan in February last year, Butch was whisked away to Tashkent to become president because of his remarkable likeness to missing president Islam Karimov.

‘Butch’ received his nickname for being a dead ringer of his near namesake, who was most famous for the role he played as the Butcher overseeing the bloody massacre in Andijan, Uzbekistan in 2005.

Unfortunately, Butch never got to realise his dream of emulating his hero, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, by staying in power for more than three decades but in a last request, he may live on as the ‘Eternal President’.

Earlier this week, Lord Venal received some intriguing documents detailing these last wishes. It is not clear whether the next president will act upon them.

Lord Venal was handed the documents in a Tashkent nightclub after a pleasant evening of dancing (not very expertly) and drinking (with more assurance). He was surprised at the good cheer all around, despite the drama being played out in a nearby hospital.


On the title ‘Eternal President’

The First President of the Republic of Uzbekistan is to be awarded the title of ‘Eternal President’.

The title is to exist eternally and cannot be revoked or passed to another individual.

The holiday of the ‘Eternal President’ is to be marked on the anniversary of the birth of the ‘Eternal President’. Ceremonies are to be held at the monument in the capital Tashkent and all towns across Uzbekistan.

I. Karimov


29 August 2016




The Criminal Code is to be amended with the addition of the following article:

“The attempt to remove from the lawful incumbent the title of ‘Eternal President’ simply because the holder of the title is dead

– shall be punishable with a sentence of deprivation of liberty or imprisonment for eternity, with or without eternal confiscation of property.

I. Karimov



Uzbekistan: The Endgame is Nigh

30 Aug

With confusion swirling around the fate of Uzbekistan’s long-serving president Islam Karimov, who suffered a brain haemorrhage on 27 August, succession scenarios have mushroomed across the media.

According to an Instagram post from Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, the  ailing president’s youngest daughter, on 29 August, the strongman leader, who has been at the helm of Uzbekistan since before independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, was hospitalised following the cerebral haemorrhage and was in a ‘stable’ condition. Later reports, still unconfirmed, claimed the president had died on that day at 15.35 Tashkent time. The presidential administration subsequently denied this.

This has brought into sharp focus the question of who is next in line to the throne. The frontrunners are Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Finance Minister and first deputy to Mirziyoyev, Rustam Azimov and national security head Rustam Inoyatov, according to EurasiaNet.org and RFE/RL.

Mirziyoyev, 59, is considered to be a gruff hardliner, while Azimov, 57, is a relatively more urbane figure, used to dealing with the wider world. Inoyatov, 72, is more likely to be the kingmaker, unless he’s keen to play Andropov to Karimov’s Brezhnev and delay the long-term succession question.

The Karimov clan could provide a dark horse in the form of the president’s younger daughter, the aforementioned Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, or her husband Timur Tillyaev, but after the spectacular reversal of fortunes of elder daughter Gulnara Karimova, the Karimov clan’s stock may not be very high these days.

Gulnara Karimova, the artist formerly known as GooGoosha, has been under house arrest in Tashkent since early 2014. The chances of her apeing Leicester City and coming good at 5,000-1 are extremely remote.

Tashkent is predictable in its unpredictability, so the close-knit cabal of Uzbekistan’s ruling elite may well have a surprise up its collective sleeve as to who will best protect their interests.

One thing is certain, the will of the people is unlikely to play any significant role in the choice of successor.

SCO “politically unhealthy” film ban

10 Jun

With Tashkent making last minute preparations for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit on 23-24 June, Lord Venal came across this enlightening memo from his recent trip to Tajikistan.


Tashkent: Sprucing up the Palace of Forums for the SCO summit

Having caught his breath after the crammed programme of his referendum monitoring visit to Dushanbe (frankly the hosts’ generosity – particularly with alcohol – left some parts of the programme rather a blur), Lord Venal found he must have somewhere picked up another interesting document.

This appears to be a proposed secret ban on a number of foreign films, which the SCO considers promote a “politically unhealthy attitude to elected leaders”. The document – which asks that the six member governments back the ban and implement it with no publicity – lists the first batch of what are likely to be a growing list of films, together with a brief description. It calls on the films to be banned from showing in cinemas and on television and blocked on the internet.

Lord Venal remembers seeing several of these at the Rutland Odeon when they first came out in the 1970s, and points out, with some modesty, that he was often told that he bore a passing resemblance to Edward Fox in his youth.

“Films to be banned from presentation (as of 12.04.2016):

October (USSR, 1928) – glorifies the violent overthrow of an established government and turns rebels into heroes.

The Great Dictator (USA, 1940) – encourages unhealthy ridicule of elected leaders and slander over their character and leadership.

Day of the Jackal (UK/France, 1973) – unacceptable presentation of the idea that assassinating an elected head of state is feasible or desirable.

All the President’s Men (USA, 1976) – encourages a cynical attitude to politics and applauds the removal from office of an elected leader.

Primary Colors (US, 1998) – normalises the concept that the outcome of an election could be uncertain.

Downfall (Germany, 2004) – its presentation of the psychological breakdown and encouragement to suicide of an elected head of state promotes an unhealthy attitude to political leadership.

Valkyrie (USA/Germany, 2008) – normalises for viewers the unacceptable idea that organising a coup and removing elected political leaders could be honourable.

Leviathan (Russia, 2014) – depicts an elected politician in an unfavourable light, thus breeding unhealthy cynicism among viewers.”