Islam Karimov, who has been in office for 25 years, died at the hospital after suffering a stroke.

Islam Karimov

Islam Karimov Photo credit: Reuters/ Channel 2 News

Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov, who has ruled the country for more than two decades, died today at the age of 78 as a result of a stroke. Karimov has been in a hospital since last Saturday.

Karimov, born in 1938, has ruled Uzbekistan since 1990 during Soviet times. He won all elections held at the country by a majority of 90%. “The entire state has been Islam Karimov,” Human Rights researcher Steve Swerdlow told AFP. “Islam Karimov has been the state for over a quarter of a century ruling with an iron fist.”

For years there have been reports of human rights violations under Karimov’s rule. In 2014, he even put his daughter under house arrest following a family feud during which she compared him to the Russian communist leader Joseph Stalin.

The Uzbek leader grew up in an orphanage in the city of Samarkand. He studied engineering and joined a Communist party, where he climbed up the ladder until reaching the top in 1989.

Political experts believe that the candidates for replacing Karimov are the Prime Minister or his deputy.