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Karimov, Islam Abduganievich

Karimov, Islam Abduganievich ĭsläm´ kärē´môf [key], 1938–2016, Soviet and Uzbekistani political leader, president of Uzbekistan (1991–2016). He joined the Soviet Communist party in 1964, rose steadily, and became head of the Uzbek SSR party in 1989. He was elected president of an independent Uzbekistan in 1991 and soon led a crackdown against his political opposition, Islamists, and others. His term was extended by referendum in 1995, and he was reelected in 2000. but international groups questioned the fairness of both elections. A 2002 referendum extended his term to 2007, when he was again reelected in an election criticized as undemocratic; his reelection in 2015 was similarly criticized. One of the most autocratic Central Asian leaders, he maintained complete control over the media and stifled any attempt at criticism of him or his regime. Uzbekistan's economy remained unreformed and stagnant, and the country was largely isolated from the outside world.

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