The grandson of late Uzbek President Islam Karimov has demanded to know the whereabouts of his missing billionaire mother — once the former Soviet Union’s richest woman.

Gulnara Karimova, the beautiful daughter of Islam Karimov, is rumoured to have either died or is being held by Uzbek security services as she has not been seen in public for two years.

There were also claims the Harvard -educated society lady had been poisoned or had been smuggled into Israel but her son Islam Karimov Junior told the BBC she was being held by security spooks.

She was once seen as a potential successor to her father but she disappeared from public view in 2014 after a family feud and claims she was involved in corruption.


Her son, who lives in London, told BBC Uzbek that Ms Karimova was being held in a “two-to-three room annexe” to her main property in central Tashkent.

He said being held for such a long time had affected her health.

He said: “To be isolated for two or three years without any even basic human rights that every person deserves on this earth, I’m sure that any person will need some kind of medical attention.

“But mentally she is sane. The reports she was in a mental hospital are false.”

Gulnara, left, with Sir Elton John at a showbiz bash in Hollywood in 2010
Late president Islam Karimov

Gulnara Karimova became the international face of Uzbekistan, running a fashion label, jewellery collection and recording pop videos.

She held diplomatic posts and ran successful businesses.

But three years ago her name became embroiled in bribery and money-laundering investigations in Switzerland and Sweden which stretch all the way to the United States.

Gulnara’s son claims his mother is being held by Uzbek security services

Not long after, a deepening rift within the presidential family became public and Ms Karimova’s activities were halted, including her outspoken social media accounts in which she slammed the Uzbek security apparatus.

Her son says the powerful security service, the SNB, is responsible for locking her up and for refusing access and information about what will happen next.

The billionaire went missing in the wake of a family feud

He said: “I don’t understand how in the 21st Century they cannot answer a simple question: ‘Where is Gulnara? House arrest, for what? For how long? Under whose supervision?’ These simple questions have to be answered.”

Mr Karimov Junior says he wants his mother’s status to be officially recognised.

“Right now there is a rumour that she is dead. But is she? Without it being official, no one can even check these things.”