WikiLeaked

Lifestyles of the corrupt and Central Asian

If we’ve learned one thing from WikiLeaks, it’s that the leaders of corrupt, former Soviet autocracies are very, very, strange people. Today’s entry in the genre comes from Uzbekistan, where the U.S. Embassy managed to obtain a video showing the wives of Uzbek officials partying it up in style with the wives of senior organized-crime ...

If we’ve learned one thing from WikiLeaks, it’s that the leaders of corrupt, former Soviet autocracies are very, very, strange people. Today’s entry in the genre comes from Uzbekistan, where the U.S. Embassy managed to obtain a video showing the wives of Uzbek officials partying it up in style with the wives of senior organized-crime figures:

Post has obtained video footage of two events hosted by the family of Tashkent mafia chieftain Salim Abduvaliyev. (Note: Salim and his rival, Gafur Rakhimov, are Uzbekistan’s top mobsters – refs A and B. End note.) XXXXXXXXXXXX Salim’s wife and the wives of the GOU Ministers form a tight circle of friends.

3. (S) The engagement party for Salim,s son, Sardor, was held in July 2005 at Salim,s mansion in Gazelkent near Tashkent. Following tradition, only women attended the engagement party. The close-knit group of around twenty guests included the wives of Interior Minister Matlybov, Justice Minister Mustafayev, Finance Minister Azimov, and Foreign Minister Ganiev, as well as Deputy Prime Minister Kasimov’s sister. Salim,s daughters also attended, along with the wives of leading businessmen Muhiddin Jamol, "UzbekSavdo" chairman Zafar Faiyziev, and "UzbekComuneHizmet" General Director Halmukhamedov.

4. (S) According to our contact, Salim did not attend the party, but provided each guest with a necklace worth $1,000. Jamol, a close friend of Salim’s whose Alp Jamol conglomerate includes banks, supermarkets and shopping centers (ref C), was tasked with keeping the guests happy. The video shows Jamol handing out $100 bills to the guests as they dance. (Note: It is common in Uzbek culture for money to be given to women as they dance, and also to musicians. End note.) Video footage of the party also shows Salim,s fleet of black Mercedes-Benz cars.

5. (S) Our contact told Poloff that Salim’s Gazelkent home was decorated by a Versace representative flown in for the job. Photos of Salim,s house reportedly appeared last year in the Russian magazine "Vysshee Obshchestvo" ("High Society"). (Note: Photos of Sardor’s eventual wedding were published on a Russian website, http://www.elite.ru. End note.) According to our contact, Salim has now built another "palace," which will be his preferred dacha, while the Gazelkent estate will reportedly be used by his wife, lovers, and daughters.

(S) The birthday party for Salim,s wife, Shahlo, took place at a Tashkent restaurant in summer 2005. In addition to Salim,s daughter and son, guests at the birthday included former Foreign Minister Mahmudova and the wives of Foreign Minister Ganiev and Deputy Prime Minister Sultanov. The wives of "UzbekComuneHizmet" General Director Halmukhamedov and foreign-based oligarch Fatokh Shodiyev also attended, along with famous singer Yulduz Usmanova. According to the contact, most guests gave Shahlo $3,000 in cash, while Shodiyev’s wife gave $10,000.

Do I detect a note of condescension in this embassy staffer’s description of the Uzbek royalty’s gaudy lifestyle? To quote one noted foreign-policy observer, "You can’t blame ’em; they ain’t never seen Versace sofas."

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