Uzbekistan is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its independence from the Soviet Union on September 1 amid public uncertainty about the condition of President Islam Karimov and who is running the country.
In the absence of official news on Karimov’s health since the government announced on August 28 that he had been hospitalized for an undisclosed ailment, speculation has raged that a secretive effort was under way to replace the only head of state the former Soviet republic has had since its independence.
Some unconfirmed and unattributed media reports claimed that Karimov had died on August 29.
But Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, Karimov’s younger daughter, suggested via social media on August 31 that her 78-year-old father was still alive and may recover after what she said earlier was a brain hemorrhage.
Karimov had been scheduled to make a public appearance at a massive Independence Day concert on September 1 in Tashkent.
But that concert has been canceled and other celebratory events on September 1 have been scaled back.
Late on August 31, an Uzbek state TV announcer read out an Independence Day speech attributed to Karimov.
In Karimov's absence, Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyaev led a commemorative event in Tashkent on August 31 that marked the start of the Independence Day celebrations.