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Uzbek TV figure reads independence speech for ill president

Associated Press Associated Press 1/09/2016
Street vendors talk at a market in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. Uzbekistan's prime minister led the nation's Independence Day celebration Wednesday in the capital of Tashkent as President Islam Karimov remained hospitalized. (AP Photo) © The Associated Press Street vendors talk at a market in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. Uzbekistan's prime minister led the nation's Independence Day celebration Wednesday in the capital of Tashkent as President Islam Karimov remained hospitalized. (AP Photo)

MOSCOW — A national newsreader has delivered a televised Independence Day speech on behalf of ailing President Islam Karimov, who remains hospitalized in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, with a suspected brain hemorrhage.

The surprise substitution reflected rising political uncertainty in Uzbekistan, which observed its national holiday Thursday. It was Karimov's first-ever absence from the celebrations.

Karimov has run an authoritarian regime in the Central Asian nation since 1989, suppressing opposition and cultivating no apparent successor. He hasn't been seen in public since mid-August, and his government last weekend admitted he was ill. His daughter on Monday said he had suffered a brain hemorrhage.

Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev led the start of independence-related events Wednesday. Other events have reportedly been cancelled, including a concert and a fireworks display.

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