Uzbek president buried in Samarkand

Funeral held for Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov, who died in hospital after suffering a brain haemorrhage which led to a stroke.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Uzebekistan President Islam Karimov's funeral cortege drives through the main road of Tashkent on Saturday Septemebr 3, 2016.

Updated Sep 4, 2016

Thousands of Uzbeks, many weeping, lined the streets of their capital, Tashkent, on Saturday to watch the funeral cortege of President Islam Karimov, after which his body was buried in his hometown of Samarkand.

At dawn, a black Mercedes van carrying the body of Karimov, who died of a stroke aged 78, drove slowly along Tashkent's main thoroughfare.

Police officers stood at salute and people bowed down to lay roses and carnations on the road side.

People carry a coffin during a mourning ceremony following the death of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, in Registan Square in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, September 3, 2016.

Reuters later reported that Karimov was buried in Samarkand's Shah-i-Zinda cemetery, citing two attendees, after a funeral held in the city's Registan square.

Karimov, in power for more than a quarter of a century, was derided by Western governments as a dictator who violated human rights, but for many people in Uzbekistan, a mainly Muslim ex-Soviet state which borders Afghanistan, he is the only head of state they have ever known.

Uzebekistan President Islam Karimov died from a stroke on September 2, 2016.

The statesman died after suffering a stroke at the age of 78, leaving no obvious successor.

Karimov’s likely successor is not yet clear, but some names being touted in the media include Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Deputy Prime Minister and the country's powerful security chief Rustam Inoyatov, who has held the post since 1995.

The 72-year-old security chief also has a reputation tainted by the violent suppression of protesters.

Thousands attended the funeral ceremony of Uzbek president Islam Karimov at Samarkand’s Registan square.

Karimov's elder daughter Gulnara, a flamboyant figure formerly seen as a potential successor, has suffered a spectacular fall from grace after she openly criticised officials and family members on Twitter.

Karimov was raised in an orphanage in the ancient city of Samarkand, before studying mechanical engineering and economics and rising up Communist Party ranks to become head of Soviet Uzbekistan in 1989.

He has long been lambasted by critics for brutally crushing dissent – most prominently the deadly 2005 response to protests in the city of Andijan, where government forces were accused of killing hundreds of demonstrators.

Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev delivers a speech during a memorial service before the funeral of Uzbek president Islam Karimov.

In response to the international criticism over the alleged massacre Tashkent shut down a US military base that had been used to supply operations in neighbouring Afghanistan since 2001.

The US State Department's 2015 human rights report highlighted "torture and abuse of detainees by security forces" and "denial of due process and fair trial" in Uzbekistan.

In a report released in April this year, rights group Amnesty International said that there was "overwhelming evidence that torture continues unabated in Uzbekistan."

The country's government has fiercely denied all the allegations against it.

TRTWorld and agencies