Last Saturday, on September 3rd 2016, people in Tashkent woke up earlier than usual to pay a last farewell to Uzbekistan’s first president – Islam Karimov. He was in power for exactly 25 years, since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The national holiday to celebrate the independence of the country was set for September 1st, and on September 2nd 2016, the president suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage.
People in Uzbekistan were shaken by this information, although the rumours about the critical medical situation of the president had been circulating for days. The Moscow-based oppositional media organisation Fergana news reported his death on August 29th, without citing any reliable sources. Such reports confused the Uzbek people, fuelled speculation and made everyone worry about the president’s health. Meanwhile, the Uzbek media remained silent, and in the evening on September 2nd suddenly announced his death.