Tag Archives: corruption

Fathers and Daughters

23 Mar

Ivanka Trump’s recent move into an office in the West Wing, despite her earlier protestations that she would not be taking a role in Daddy’s administration, has brought to mind another high-profile presidential daughter of recent times, Uzbekistan’s Gulnara Karimova.

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Fathers and Daughters: Islam Karimov, Donald Trump, Gulnara Karimova and Ivanka Trump (photo borrowed from a tweet via @AmbKennedy_ret)

In American politics, there is little precedent for a president’s daughter taking on an advisory position in the White House. Maybe it is fitting to look at the rise and subsequent fate of the daughter of Uzbekistan’s late president Islam Karimov.

Gulnara Karimova, also known as GooGoosha, was once a high-flyer in Uzbekistan, dabbling in telecoms, show-business, high fashion, charity and construction – some even spoke of her as being next-in-line to the throne, but she suffered a spectacular fall from grace in March 2014 when she was placed under house arrest in Tashkent following a huge corruption scandal. Little has been heard of her since.

Keeping this in mind, Ivanka had better make sure she doesn’t get the wrong side of Daddy Trump, who is said to model himself on Karimov, the strongman president who ruled Uzbekistan for 25 years until his demise in September 2016.

Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” is said to be modelled on Karimov’s “O’zbekiston kelajagi buyuk davlat” (Uzbekistan, the state with a great future).

These two cantankerous old guys both share a hatred of the free press, are prone to making bizarre off the cuff remarks, bear grudges indefinitely and are fiercely opposed to what they see as Islamic extremism.

Ivanka should be mindful of GooGoosha’s fate, or else she may find herself locked up in a shed in the White House grounds.

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Kazakhstan: The Axe-Man Cometh

7 Aug

President Nazarbayev returned to Kazakhstan from his July holidays as a man on a mission to trim back the excesses of his government’s bloated bureaucracy.

It must have been an uncomfortable experience for the government bigwigs assembled in Akorda, the president’s Astana HQ, as the axe fell repeatedly with ministries and agencies being culled and merged left, right and centre. After the dust had settled, Kazakhstan was left with 12 ministries from its former tally of 17.

Kazaxia has had a look at some of the main changes: the biggest shock was the merging of the Family Affairs and Nepotism ministries, bringing the bodies for providing jobs for clan and family members and other assorted hangers-on under one umbrella. This is set to cause some friction in the months ahead as former ministers scrabble to place their kith and kin in cushy numbers. It should be a bloody battle with the trough having been significantly downsized.

The Ministry of Privatisations was merged with the Nationalisation Ministry in a move that will effectively paralyse attempts by Astana to either buy or sell its ailing industrial base. The Corruption Agency was brought under the auspices of the Ministry for Investment to streamline procedures for investors.

The energy sector also saw major changes. The Agency for Renewable Energy was subsumed by the Ministry for Fossil Fuels to create a powerful lobby group for the extractive industries. Eco fanatics will be further enraged by the decision to place the Environmental Protection Agency under the wing of the Ministry for Urban Development. This should pave the way for controversial projects such as the Kok-Zhailau ski resort to proceed unhindered.

Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!(A Bribe After Midnight)

14 Jan

Uzbek pop sensation, GooGoosha, is set to inflict her latest release on the world. To show her gratitude to the Swedish-Finnish telecoms giant TeliaSonera, accused of paying substantial bribes to associates of the Uzbek pop idol cum designer cum jeweller cum diplomat cum dictator’s daughter to  secure its presence in Uzbekistan, GooGoosha will do a reworking of the old Abba fave Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Bribe After Midnight).

Kazakhstan: Vino Bows Out

11 Oct

Kazakhstan’s star cyclist Alexandre Vinokourov has finally hung up his trouser clips as he brought his chequered pro-cycling career to a close with a win in the jubilee criterium race on the streets of his adopted home city of Monaco.

Vinokourov – known to his fans simply as Vino, had many highs and lows in his 14-year career as a pro-cyclist. He ended on a high note by taking gold in the Men’s Cycling Road Race in this year’s London Olympics, which he added to his silver medal from Sydney in 2004.

The lows included a scandal-hit Tour de France in 2007 when he was kicked out for failing a blood-doping test. This earned him a two-year ban from the sport. In 2011 he was embroiled in a scandal that saw him accused of bribing a fellow rider to let him win a race.

It is likely that Vino will now take up a position on the management side of the Astana pro-cycling team that was set up around him in 2006 by a consortium of Kazakh companies. Another option is politics in his native Kazakhstan – he was listed as a candidate for Nur Otan in January’s parliamentary vote.

However, the smart money’s on the high-life in Monaco and the buzz of the pro-cycling circuit rather than the somewhat less attractive lure of entering Astana’s turgid political scene.  If he does opt for Kazakhstan, then the cheating and corruption allegations will stand him in good stead for a life in politics.

His retirement comes at a time when  former Astana team mate, Lance Armstrong,  finally faces the music with the sheer weight of evidence provided by the United States anti-Doping Agency pointing to long-term,  systematic doping in Armstrong’s past before he joined Astana.