There was a day not too long ago that the Uzbek owner of FC Bunyodkor in Tashkent entertained notions of turning the club into a regional powerhouse, a sort of Manchester United, Barcelona or Inter-Milan of Central Asia. The team brought in a high profile coach, began construction on a new 35,000-seat stadium and signed some past-their-prime stars in an attempt to gain instant name recognition.
Uzbekistan has been leaning hard on Tajikistan in recent weeks, making a number of harsh moves that regional analysts say are motivated by opposition to Dushanbe’s plans for the Roghun hydroelectric plant, perceived as threatening Uzbekistan's intensive downstream water demand for cotton irrigation.
The apparent demise of Zeromax, Uzbekistan’s largest conglomerate, may provide insight into the political future of President Islam Karimov’s eldest daughter, Gulnara. Once considered a possible successor to her father, some political experts now believe Zeromax’s current troubles are indicative that Gulnara’s ambitions are changing.
The head of FC Barcelona, one of the most famous football clubs in the world, has had extensive dealings with Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of Uzbekistan’s president, according to an investigative report published by the prominent Spanish daily El Pais.