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Putin flies to Uzbekistan to meet with possible new leader

Associated Press Associated Press 6/09/2016
Russian President Vladimir Putin pays his last respect at a cemetery in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Putin arrived to express his condolences and visit a grave of Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov in Samarkand. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP) © The Associated Press Russian President Vladimir Putin pays his last respect at a cemetery in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Putin arrived to express his condolences and visit a grave of Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov in Samarkand. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin, en route home from a summit in China, has made a stop in Uzbekistan where the president of nearly 27 years was laid to rest on Saturday, leaving no apparent successor.

Uzbekistan is ex-Soviet central Asia's most populous country and borders Afghanistan, making it of strategic interest to Russia and the United States.

Islam Karimov, who crushed opposition throughout his rule, was buried in his hometown of Samarkand on Saturday. The chairman of the country's Senate has been declared interim head of state in line with the constitution but it is unclear if he will succeed Karimov as president.

Putin on Tuesday visited Karimov's grave and held a brief meeting with Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev, indicating that the prime minister is likely to get the job.

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