FILE PHOTO - Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov takes part in the Sharq Taronalari (Melodies of the East) International Music Festival in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, August 28, 2015. REUTERS/Muhammadsharif Mamatkulov/File Photo
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Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov died Friday, the government announced, ending over a quarter of a century of his iron-fisted rule in the Central Asian nation with no clear successor lined up.Loyalist Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev is heading the organisation committee for the funeral, suggesting that he could be in line to take over long-term from Karimov.Russian President Vladimir Putin called Karimov's death "a great loss for the people of Uzbekistan" in a telegram to interim leader Yuldashev, while Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is set to jet in for the funeral.Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who appointed Karimov to head the former Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan in 1989, told Interfax news agency that Karimov was "a competent man with a strong character".
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