Letters from Uzbekistan: Islam Karimov writes me a personal note



Dear Rick,

So far we have been indulgent and patient in regard to your blog’s focus on the lies (my behaviour) and truths (sex is cheap, safe and plentiful here, particularly in Tashkent, and one other town I will not do you the personal favor of revealing unless you visit me in private [consider this an invitation]) regarding the righteous and mighty nation of Uzbekistan of which I am Premier. I like to say ‘Premier’. Yes, Ricky, we have been quite indulgent, but keep up the slander, mention me in relation to my daughter just one more time, and you are likely to find yourself in hot water.

I expect no apologies, for people like you tend to extend such at the instant it has become too late. So here is what I suggest. Merely print THIS on your blog. I did not have anal sex with my daughter. I categorically deny having anal sex with my daughter (which is not to say that anal sex is unavailable in my country, and cheap) and I do not appreciate your adding that libelous passage to the fine letter written by my esteemed Minister of Tourism, Mr. Arslan Levantinovich.

I am sure I need not explain to you that my reach is long and my justice swiftly begun and slow to come to its fit and natural end.

Yours, and perhaps one day in a way you might find unpleasantly, let us say warm,


Islam Karimov

Premier (I really like saying ‘Premier’) of the final nation of Uzbekistan

USE SEXISTAN: Letter from Uzbekistan: Democracy and How Islam Karimov Tamed his Daughter

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Guess what Rick: That’s not me! Arslan L


Dear Rick,


I can write you freely now and am perhaps too anxious, but Rick, though I apologize to you for my disconcertainties and contradictions in the past few mails I am sure you understand. But now this is me, the real me, again, your Arslan Levantinov. Let me quickly explain. You see, the succex you brought me brought me (that does not seem the write words) to the great man himself. Yes, that is right, HIS EXCELLENCY Islam Karimov. Islam Karimov. Islam Karimov. (I’m trying to make it bigger, but I’m lost on my new computer.) No jokes. At that point, when I received the invitation to his presidence, I felt myself in conflict. Elation at my elevated status, for he had already as you know promoted me, but this was together with my fear I have no fear of admitting of being boiled alive. Yesterday, much like flesh soup boiling my affairs came to ahead. Called to an audience with the great man himself. Imagine my trepudiation. I stepped baldly into his office. Imagine this greeting: ‘Arslan, what’s the matter with you? Your letter to the American have turned to shit. You aren’t yourself anymore. It’s as if you’re afraid of being discovered writing subversive letters. Are you, Arslan Levantinovich, aftraid of being accused of writing subversive letters?’ How could I lie? ‘Yes. Yes, Excellency, for I have in fact been writing subversive letters. That is the only reason, I swear.’ He laughed—he actually laughed. ‘But, my son, for you are like a son to me, it is impossible. For you to be subversive there must be something to subvert, am I wrong?’ No Excellency. You are right. Interluckily.’ ‘Then listen to me carefully: Only death can subvert my rule. Are you an assassin, Willard? ‘No…(should I tell him I am not even Willard?)’ ‘Then. You see? You are innocent, my son. Permit me to explain something to you. I have modernized my regime. We are now a democracy very closely allied to the most powerful country in the world.’ Here i made the mistake of interrupting. It was involuntary, a subversive—no, a…well, a belch. ‘A democracy, Sir?’ He slammed his hand onto the desk. I was grateful it was not a fist for in such small details a man does decipher the coded signs that dictate life or death. ‘Yes, a democracy!’ He shouted. We hold elections, don’t we? Precisely on the American model. Two parties: may the one with the most money and best voter suppression techniques win. And judging by the results, either party in the United States could take lessons from me. Imagine what it must be like on election day not actually knowing if you will win or not. I can’t imagine. There are many other direct parallels. Take embarrassing family members, like the Bush boys. They all have them. This last one with a wife who has arms like a Greco-Roman wrestler. Who do you think runs the show? And me with my goddamned daughter, my avaricious beauty who had inherited from me everything but tact, subtlety. Hah! Here is something for your friend, that American exile in the land of Melania: Do you know how I finally tamed her? You notice she has behaved properly for nearly two years now? You want to know my secret? They will. And it will help tourism, too. Or have you heard?’ ‘No, Excellency, nothing.’ ‘No? No word on the street? You know now that you can be frank with me, Arslan Levantinovich.’ ‘But it is true, Sir, I have heard nothing.’ ‘All the better: it shall be a revelation. You have of course read the iranian satirist Obeyd e Zakani from the thriteenth century.’ ‘No Excellency.’ ‘Never mind. He was a Persian satirist.’ ‘From the thirteenth century (I wanted to let him know I was paying attention).’ ‘Yes. And he advised Muslims to have anal intercourse with the daughters of their neighbors that the girls’ hymens remain intact, and they thusly remain good and just Muslims. Satire, Arslan Levy, is the recourse of a troubled state. So I called that little bitch, my daughter, into my office, locked the door, pulled up her gown, tore off her thousand euro panties from France, and fucked her right in her ass. Yes, Arslan Levantinovich, it is true. I gave it to her good and long until she promised to behave properly. I remained a good and proper father. And as I said, she has caused no trouble since. So you write that to your friend, for we prosper as a democracy that is also a cauldron of hot and limitless sex, available to any tourist from anywhere in the world.’ No doubt His Excellency has read and approved this sincere and entirely accurate letter by now. So thank you, Rick, and please forgive my injudasish retreat into smudgery. From now on you can expect nothing but but my frank and warm collaboration as first intended, as your people are want to say, going aheadward.


All the best,

Your friend,



Letters from Uzbekistan: a Retraction my Ass: Trump or Putin or A Pot of Boiling Lies

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The Mysterious Miss Uzbekistan, 2013.

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Donald Trump, the man whom my source previously named as her father (with Melania)

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An Imperial Arrangement?


Gulnara Karimova.

The New Tale

My heretofore reliable source has gone off the rails. I received an emergency note from Arslan Levantinovich (as he has recently re-named himself) begging me to delete the article I wrote on his word (he claimed to have evidence he would have to deliver in person, and up to that point he had been perfectly upright and accurate in all our dealings) as to the Paternity of the mysterious Miss Uzbekistan of 2013, to wit: Trump and Melania. He would fill me in later. So what the hell, I wrote it. Now, Mr. Levantinovich, or rather–his transparent anagrammatical code name, by which he signed this note warning me of the possible ill luck descending toward my friend Arslan, Valentin Lasarnovich–begs me to believe that this could turn embarrassing at any point in the future after the imperial marriage of none other than V Putin and the daughter of Islam herself, Gulnara Karimova, at the wedding of which they will announce the identity of their daughter, Miss Uzbekistan, 2013.


Believe what you want. Maybe this is a retraction.

Letters From Uzbekistan: Tashkent Nights




Dear Rick,

Thank you so very much for all you have done for me and my agency and the nation that owns it. Since your efforts to promote our country we have received evidence of increased interest (and actual investment) in visiting our country, particularly Tashkent. A total of 19 European nations have shown interest/booked flights and hotels, including one secret one that goes by the moniker »E. U.« Isn’t that strange. (Here’s another odd one: We had a group from Puerto Rico fly in and they were listed separately in the computer from the United States yet carried United States passports. I guess you can imagine how long they were clearing customs…) 18 Asian/Middle Eastern nations showed increased interest and actual investment as well, even within Uzbekistan. We had five caravans from Karakalpakstan alone in April and the first half of May! None going the other way, but I attribute that to the season. Australian visits are up nearly 50% over last year, and we received our first governmental delegation of ‘Kiwis’, I hope it i sall right to call them. In a big city, of course, there will be some problems and perhaps over time we will be sufficiently savvy in tourist matters that we will never put the Kiwis with the Indonesians again. I know Geography about as well as the next person on a flight were I on a flight, but I never realized they shared an island with Indonesia! And apparently unhappily. Wait—oh, my assistant, L., points out that the Puerto Ricans actually never did clear customs and were sent on the first flight back. I have so many questions for you, Rick, and let that be one of them, if you could shed light on that. But primarily I write to thank you, tell you how well the work is going, how happy my superiors are with me, and finally to ask you to allow me to withdraw my permission to be in your novel or any novel you may write. And please do not ‘fictionalize’ me. I ask this as your friend, knowing I could never stop you no matter how many favors our Montenegrin guests come to owe me (astonishing how much like Russians these people are, and I mean that they share the finest qualitites!).

Of course, things may change,

And until then, or before then even, I will remain


Arslan Levantinovich

P.S. If you post this on your blog, please consider ‘Tashkent Nights’ and if you could use the attached photo we would much appreciate the gesture.49105-tashkent-nightlife-tours

Letters from Uzbekistan: Mysterious Miss Uzbekistan is Donald Trump’s Daughter

This much I know:

According to my source in the Uzbeki tourism agency, the mysterious Miss Uzbekistan from 2013 is Donald Trump’s daughter by his Slovene wife, Melania Trump. Arslan Levantinov has insisted he has proof that he cannot trust to send by post and will only turn over to me, and only me, in person. From his short note: ‘Look at the photo and tell me how old you think she is.?

Below is the story until yesterday’s communique from Mr. Levantinov:

Miss Uzbekistan is 18 and plays the piano. But no one in her homeland has heard of her

RAKHIMA GANIEVA, the 18-year-old representing Uzbekistan at the 2013 Miss World pageant in Indonesia has all the right credentials. She’s beautiful, sporty, plays the piano and describes herself as “cheerful and serious at the same time”.

There’s only one problem: no one in Uzbekistan has ever heard of her, says The Times.

The central Asian republic is better known for its exports of gold, uranium and natural gas, than beauty queens. Indeed, officials in Tashkent, the capital, say the country has never staged a Miss Uzbekistan contest.

A spokesman for the Taskent modelling agency where Ganieva trained “briefly” as a 15-year-old told Eurasianet.org that she “never passed through any special selection process in Uzbekistan”.

“If there had been a process to choose a young lady for this competition, I can assure you that a much more beautiful model would have been chosen,” he added. “I’m sorry that Ganieva is choosing to build a career on lies.”

So, who is Ganieva? Her biography on the official Miss World website reveals that she’s “very exited and happy” to be representing Uzbekistan at the 63rd Miss World contest. She adds that she’s handy with a tennis racket, likes to study history and loves weighty Russian authors including Chekhov, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy.

Montefiore’s “The Court of the Red Tsar”



If Cheney would be Stalin, who would be Beria? Ok, so Cheney would be Stalin and Beria. Or let Wolfowitz be Stalin. Bolton as Molotov? Close enough. Obama? Let’s say Bulganin. This regime unleashed a terror the likes of which have only been seen in previous regimes with different Stalin/Berias. Only they did it outside their own country. What is remarkable in the case of Stalin is that he did it to his own people (and to a lesser extent those in his sphere of control to the west). Is it justifiable to compare this ‘Monster’ to our monsters? I think so. Our comparisons are effective and sometimes necessary, particularly when we begin to make the mistake of looking at politics in terms of good versus evil. Stalin and gang’s crude and massively murderous rapid industrialization is certainly ugly to read about, but what was it if not a compression of the Industrialization that took place in England, which certainly exceeded Stalin’s efforts in terms of vicitms, coming as it did along with colonial rapine and the complete gutting of India, where the British orchestrated famines as bad as that in the Ukraine in the early 30s.

Simon Sebag Montefiore’s The Court of the Red Tsar has little new to say in broad terms about Stalin and his crew, because Stalin has been written about repeatedly, from the early and percipient biography by the all but forgotten Isaac Deutscher to the perhaps definitive biographer Robert Service. But Montefiore has more information at his disposal than any writer has yet had and he made the decision to write a rather gossipy book that reads like a South American novel of a despot. Even his language is that of a novelist at times, freely using the word dwarf, mostly to describe the sadistic (the book is filled with sadists, but it has to be said here anyway) shorty Yezhov, who headed the inquisitions after Yagoda and before Beria. So the book is highly entertaining, more so than any other biography of Stalin, giving specific inside story after inside story, quote after quote, so that a bland statement like ‘Stalin was merciless even in his closest circles, ordering the executions of…’ is given horrific life by closely acquainting the reader with these people, what they said, and how they subsequently suffered: there are many accounts of specific tortures (One thing I learned was that I have been wrong all these years to believe that a paranoid Stalin was quite practical about offing his enemies, simply sending them to the Lubyanka to be shot; given the extraordinary numbers of political murders [millions] this had to be to some extent true, but he often requested various tortures be applied and in many personal cases took an interest in the reactions of the victims.)

Since so little of the general story was new to me, I didn’t begin marking the book until late, around page 500 or so. Here are some of these bits:

Stalin: ‘Leave them in peace. We can always shoot them later.’

‘The film star Zoya Fyodorovna was picked up by these Chekists at a time when she was still breastfeeding her baby. Taken to a party where there were no other guests, she was joined by Beria whom she begged to let her go as her breasts were painful. »Beria was furious.« The officer who was taking her home mistakenly handed her a bouquet at the door. When Beria saw, he shouted: »It’s a wreath not a bouquet. May they rot on your grave!« She was arrested afterwards.

‘The film actress Tatiana Okunevskaya was even less lucky: at the end of the war, Beria invited her to perform for the Politburo. Instead they went to a dacha. Beria plied her with drink, »virtually pouring the wine into my lap. He ate greedily, tearing at the food with his hands, chattering away.« Then »he undresses, rolls around, eyes ogling, an ugly, shapeless toad. »’Scream or not, doesn’t matter’,« he said. »’Think and behave accordingly.’« Beria softened her up by promising to releaase her beloved father and grandfather from prison and then raped her. He knew very well that both had already been executed. She too was arrested soon afterwards and sentenced to solitary confinement. Felling trees in the Siberian taiga, she was saved, like so many others, by the kindness of ordinary people.’

Like I say, the book fleshes out novelistically what we for the most part already new. One of the most astonishing things we knew was how Stalin refused to accept the fact that Germany was going to attack his country and refused to make any efforts to prepare, in fact did the opposite so as not to offend Hitler, who might take troop movements and such as a provocation. This book does not bore on the topic, for instance Montefiore finds a quote from Stalin who is told less than a week before Operation Barbarossa that a spy in the Luftwaffe confirms the impending attack, and Stalin replies ‘Tell the »source« in the Staff of the German Air Force to fuck his mother!«

Other matters of particular interest to me are Churchill’s calling his agreement to divide post-war Europe into states controlled by East and West, using percentages (Greece 90% west, 10% East…) a ‘naughty document’; And, moreso, I was pleased that an anecdote I have been telling for years regarding attempted assassinations of Tito was factual. Some letters were found on Stalin’s Kremlin desk, apparently the contents unknown to any but Stalin. In my old version there were three, two from Lenin, one from Tito. In this version there were five, but only three could be recalled by witnesses. One was indeed from Lenin, scolding Stalin for speaking ill of Krupskaya, one from Bukharin asking why he needed to die, and the third was from Tito that read ‘Stop sending assassins to muder me…If this doesn’t stop, I will send a man to Moscow and there’ll be no need to send any more.’

Finally, grading this book. The effort, the travels, the inexhaustible reading and travelling the author undertook…this alone suggests five of five stars. The writing itself, weaving the personal and the enormous historic without jarring the reader, managing to tell readers what they quite likely already know without boring them, that too suggests five of five stars. And, more difficult than anything probably, telling much the same personal tales of victims, endless victims close to Stalin, their stories not significantly different from all the others for the most part, without either appealing to the basest instincts of the reader (I, for one, could have used more specifics) or boring us—that deserves a five as well.


Letters from Uzbekistan: What Arslan Shared with Stalin

Both Josip Vissarionovich and Arslan Levantine hung reproductions of Ilya Repin’s Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mahmoud IV, which happened to be the favorite painting of both men.


The painting depicts the Cossacks of nearer Dnieper to a Turkish Sultan’s demand that they submit to him. They had a letter writing party to refuse as insultingly as possible, heading the letter:

‘O Sultan, Turkish devil and spawn of devil and family, asslicker of Lucifer . What devil kind of fighter are you, who but one who at best can slay a hedgehog with your naked ass? The devil excretes, and your army eats. Ne, you scrotum scruffer, you will not make subjects of real horesemen. We do not fear women. Oh, and you unholy goatfucker, Ivan says you can go fuck your mother, as he himself has.’

Letters from Uzbekistan: Aral Sea Tours

My friend and correspondent Arslan Levantinov made the best of a difficult assignment–to make of the Aral Sea disaster a tourist attraction–and he asked my help. Most of the article is his, but this clause is mine: ‘Trip to Aral Sea is one of those that enable each traveler to feel the human madness and miracles of nature…’ more or less. His editor cut it, but I think the subtle irony remains.

Aral Sea Tours

Aral Sea Tours and Travel Package

A full day excursion (a round trip of some 350 km) to Moynaq, former fishing community on the Aral Sea when water of the sea was at its normal old level. Here you will see the rusting remains of boats stuck in the sand where the sea used to be before its tragic shrinking in size. We offer Aral Sea tours with various travel options: short excursions, one day, multiple day tours and tours by air and by train.

Aral Sea Travel Tips

It is not so easy to get to the Aral Sea itself; it is a long and tough way through the desert. It is about 8 hours drive from Nukus to the Aral Sea.  The challenging complexity of the Tour by off-road 4×4 vehicles makes it more attractive not only for ecologists, geologists, oilmen and journalists, but also for adventure seeking tourists.

Trying to get to the Aral Sea there without any guidance would not be a wise thing to do, because there is no real road and no road signs.

Trip to Aral Sea is one of those that enable each traveler to feel the human madness and miracles of nature, see the human power in the architectural monuments of Karakalpakstan and its soul in the paintings kept in Savitsky Museum. The landscape Aral Sea is interesting, especially bearing in mind that you are walking on what used to be the bottom of the sea. There are sea shells all over the ground and dry sea plants. The places around are hilly and plain, as it is a desert place. But it is beautiful to see.

The dying Aral Sea with graveyard of abandoned ships, deserted settlements of fishermen, tombs of old Massaget tribes, over 1000 archaeological monuments and mirages in the steppe – these are what you see and experience with one of our Aral Sea Tour packages.

Letters from Uzbekistan: The Aral Assignment

Let this serve as an introduction to the next post. Arslan Levantinov of the Uzbekistani tourist bureau was given the assignment to make of the Aral disaster a tourist attraction. As he lives in Tashkent, of course, this seems to be a sign of the discontent of his superiors, but that may be an anachronistic Soviet era cryptological impulse of my own. The fact is, however, that I know that Mr. Levantinov has a great fear of travel and it is quite unlikely that he had the least desire to take on this project. What he fears more than travel, however, is getting burned–and a man in Tashkent certainly risks getting burned, at least by the son, at some point during the long journey to the Uzbeki wastes that were once the Aral sea. Yet he pulled off a masterpiece of travel bureau writing. The likelihood that he did so without leaving his apartment in Tashkent is neither here nor there, especially if there is Karakalpakstan, particularly the once coastal city of ‘Muynak’ (pardon my Cyrillophobia).

Welkom in Moynaq, eens een van de grootste vissersplaatsen aan het Aralmeer

Letter from Uzbekistan: THE VANISHING ARAL SEA


About half of that sea is ‘in’ Uzbekistan, which gets the worst of the health hazards, as toxic dust from the former seabed mostly flies south to the province of Karakalpakstan.

The story of the Aral is rather simple. It was fed by the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya, both of which were siphoned from for irrigation extensively during the Soviet era, so that eventually no water at all from either river fed the sea. The balance of the Aral was precarious enough, fed rather weakly, evaporating at roughly the rate it was fed. But it was a great place for sturgeon and a number of other interesting sea creatures.

Soon we shall sea how a tourism functionary makes the best of this rather sad, seemingly uninviting region.