Tashkent (Agenzia Fides) - While diplomatic sources cited by international agencies announced the death of the President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, who in past days suffered a brain hemorrhage, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill in a message sent to the same Karimov thanked him for the "care" with which he encouraged dialogue between the different religious components of the Uzbek nation, protecting the rights of those who are called "traditional communities." In particular, the Patriarch thanked the President of Uzbekistan "for his willingness to cooperate" with the local diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church.
In Uzbekistan, the 78 year-old Karimov maintained power for the past 25 years, since the collapse of the Soviet Union. According to many analysts, his leadership was characterized by repressive policies towards opponents and groups accused of connivance with extremism.
According to a recent survey by the Pew Center Research, 96.3% of the nearly 28 million Uzbeks are Muslims. There are also several thousand Jews in the Country, the remnants of an ancient community that largely emigrated to Israel and the United States. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 02/09/2016)