While members of presidential families tend to be under intense media scrutiny, not much is known about Timur Tillyaev, husband of Uzbek president Islam Karimov’s younger daughter Lola. Tillyaev was mentioned in passing in US diplomatic cables dated from November 2004, which made a reference to Karimova’s boyfriend trying to keep potential dance partners at bay during the couple’s outing in one of Tashkent’s night clubs.
There was certain media buzz when reports emerged of the young
couple’s plans to tie the knot in mid-2000s with much speculation about
what role Tillyaev, the offspring of a wealthy family, who spent his
formative years in the USA, first attending a high school and then a
university, was going to play in Uzbekistan’s politics and business
However despite much media fuss, with hindsight, it seems expectations of the political influence the Tillyaev couple were going to wield in Uzbekistan were quite exaggerated, and Timur and Lola preferred to focus on their own family (they have three children now), rather than Uzbekistan’s politics which is going through extremely turbulent times with no potential successor to the rapidly aging president yet announced.
It’s known that the couple left the country in 2006, shortly before the birth of their second child Umar, and do not seem to be affiliated with any of the powerful political clans inside the country, though they did manage to keep the grip on some of their business interests. Neither Timur nor Lola have ever spoken to the media about what prompted them to leave Uzbekistan, but circles close to the couple cite various reasons, including serious disagreements with Lola’s sister, Gulnara Karimova (it’s said two sisters haven’t talked to each other for years), as well as the Karimov family’s objection to Lola’s marriage to Timur.
Media reports that appeared recently offer a glimpse into Mr
Tillyaev’s business activity both in Uzbekistan as well as outside of
Swiss newspaper Le Matin Dimanche, in an article published last December, provides an insight into Tillyaev’s business activity, involving the purchase of a number of boutique shops in Switzerland in 2008, several of which have either been closed or sold since then. According to the paper, at present the couple has six shops in Geneva and one in Lausanne.
In a response to the publication, the Tillyaev couple denied allegations that they possessed a number of markets across Uzbekistan, saying Mr Tillyaev had interests in a company which owns a market in Tashkent. They also rebutted the allegations to the effect that the company was exempt of customs and tax duties in the country. The letter written to the paper adds that Mr Tillyaev was also engaged in business activities in the area of international transportation.
There is relatively little known about how Timur Tillyaev’s family is doing in Uzbekistan. One thing is clear that his kith and kin do not enjoy any influence in Uzbekistan, and are not a part of the elite, which will have a say in shaping the country’s political future.
It’s known that following the divorce of his parents in his teens,
Tillyaev was sent off to a high school in the USA, where he pursued his
undergraduate studies in Finance in Midland University. His younger
sister lives in Tashkent and is married to a grandson of a well-known
Uzbek film director.
By the look of it, neither Lola nor Timur nurse any political ambitions. Since becoming a part of the country’s first family Timur has never been seen on any Uzbek TV channels, official events and is little known to people living in Uzbekistan.
Lola has been less cautious about keeping low profile. She has her own official website and a page on the Facebook, which mainly focus on her charity work in the area of helping children with disabilities as well as orphanages. Timur is often seen staying at his wife’s side in the pictures available online on Lola’s visit to various charitable institutions.