Veteran Uzbek leader Karimov battled Islamists, suppressed dissent

September 2, 2016 9:39 AM

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Veteran Uzbek leader Karimov battled Islamists, suppressed dissent

Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who diplomatic sources said on Friday had died aged 78 after suffering a stroke, saw himself as the protector of his Central Asian nation against the threat of militant Islam. To his critics, he was a brutal dictator who used torture to stay in power.

Karimov, who steered his former Soviet republic to independence from Moscow in 1991, tellingly chose Tamerlane, the 14th century Central Asian ruler and conqueror with a penchant for mass murder, as Uzbekistan's national hero.

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