Former Uzbek leader's daughter to resign as ambassador

Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, the second daughter of late Uzbek president Islam Karimov, speaks at a conference on Uzbekistan's Islamic cultural and scientific heritage in Samarkand, Uzbekistan August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Muhammadsharif Mamatkulov

SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan (Reuters) - Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, the second daughter of Uzbek president Islam Karimov who died last year, will step down soon as Uzbekistan’s representative at UNESCO, she said on Monday.

Karimova-Tillyaeva, 39, said she would focus on helping run a charitable foundation named after her father who died last September after running the ex-Soviet Central Asian state with an iron fist for 27 years.

“In the near future, I plan to step down from my role as ambassador in order to focus on my family, personal goals, (and) projects being implemented by the Islam Karimov foundation as well as other creative, charitable and cultural projects,” Karimova-Tillyaeva said at a conference on Uzbekistan’s Islamic cultural and scientific heritage.

Her once powerful elder sister, Gulnara Karimova, fell out with their father around 2014, and since his death Karimova-Tillyaeva has been his only close relative holding a prominent government post.

Gulnara Karimova was sentenced in 2015 to five years’ probation - a measure which may equal house arrest in Uzbek law - for acquiring through extortion or embezzlement stakes in a number of companies, and for tax evasion. She is also being investigated on charges of fraud, evading customs and foreign exchange regulations, and money laundering.

Karimova-Tillyaeva, who is married to Uzbek businessman Timur Tillyaev, has said she was estranged from her sister for years. It was unclear from her speech on Monday whether she planned to move back to Uzbekistan after leaving the post of ambassador at the Paris-based U.N. agency.

Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Richard Balmforth