Uzbekistan leader in ‘critical’ condition

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MOSCOW: Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who has dominated the ex-Soviet nation for 25 years, was in critical condition after his health worsened “sharply” following a stroke, a statement said on Friday. “Dear compatriots, it is with a very heavy heart that we inform you that yesterday the condition of our president deteriorated sharply and, according to doctors, it is evaluated as critical,” the statement posted on a government website said. The terse announcement — which was also carried in state newspapers and television on Friday — confirmed that Karimov, 78, was hospitalized last Saturday following a stroke. Speculation over the president’s condition has swept the very tightly-controlled Central Asian nation since officials first said last Sunday that he had been hospitalized, with opposition media based outside the country claiming that he has already died.

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