(AFP) Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday laid roses at the grave of late Uzbek leader Islam Karimov, whose death last week after 27 years in charge sparked fears of instability in the Central Asian nation.
Footage broadcast by Russian state television showed Putin kneeling at Karimov's flower-covered grave in the historic city of Samarkand after he made a detour to ex-Soviet Uzbekistan on his way home from the G20 summit in China.
Putin also held talks with Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev, in a further sign that he is the frontrunner to replace Karimov, who was announced dead at 78 on Friday after a stroke with no clear successor. […]
"Russia has always viewed stability on its southern border as a priority and especially so these days because of fears that (the Islamic State group) could exploit a power vacuum," Scott Radnitz, a regional expert at the University of Washington, told AFP.
The Kremlin could try to draw Uzbekistan closer by offering a better deal for the roughly two million migrant workers from the impoverished country living in Russia or a generous loan, Radnitz said, but ultimately the new leadership is likely to keep treading its own course.
"As before, it will not put all its eggs in the Russian basket," he said.
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