Russian president, PM condole Uzbek president's death

Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev expressed condolences over the death of Uzbekistan's long-time leader Islam Karimov, the Kremlin and the Cabinet press services said. The Uzbek authorities announced in a televised statement earlier on Friday that Karimov, 78, died in a hospital after suffering a stroke last week, Sputnik reported. Both Putin and Medvedev highly praised Karimov's role in maintaining strategic partnership between Russia and Uzbekistan, as well as in strengthening security and stability in Central Asia. His (Karimov's) departure from life is a great loss for the people of Uzbekistan, as well as the Commonwealth of Independent States and the countries-partners of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Islam Karimov was a prominent statesman, a true leader of the country," the statement by Putin said. "The most important milestones in the history of modern Uzbek state are associated with his name," the statement said.  Medvedev's spokeswoman Natalia Timakova said the prime minister will head the Russian delegation at Karimov's funeral in native Samarkand on September 3.IANS