She’s neither as glamorous nor as wicked as the other Central Asian princesses, but Bermet Akayeva is still formidable.

Gulnara has cash, Dariga has clout; but Bermet has brains. And balls. Bermet’s dad, Askar Akayev, got kicked out during the 2005 “Tulip Revolution.” The whole family fled to Moscow, where Askar settled down to become a humble math professor.

But Bermet doesn’t freak out that easily. She returned to Kyrgyzstan, ran for Parliament, and won. The Central Election Commission invalidated the result due to allegations of irregularity.

Bolotbek Maripov, who lost to Akayeva in [the] disputed parliament seat, said that her return showed courage. ‘I’m glad that there’s at least one man in the Akayev family,’ he added. (Wikipedia)

Bermet’s resume could send a geek into ecstasies:

  • 1989: Graduated Frunze School of Physics and Mathematics, Bishkek
  • 1989-1992: Studied Computational Mathematics and Cybernetics, Moscow State University
  • 1994: MBA, Lausanne Business School, Switzerland
  • 1994-2000: UN Compensation Commission, Geneva
  • Until 2005: Program Coordinator of the well-respected Aga Khan Foundation, Bishkek

Ok, so Bermet may not have the savvy of the other Princesses. But at heart she seems a stubborn, nerdy professor’s daughter, and that’s my kind. : )


this is what one former Uzbek PCV wrote:

“There was no impulse I distrusted or admired more than that of exile. Distrust because of exile’s narcissism, its modal insistence that, above all, location forged the content of one’s conscience. Admired because of exile’s bravery, its intransigence, the embrace hidden in its denunciation.”

— Tom Bissell, Chasing the Sea,

being a narrative of a journey through Uzbekistan, including Descriptions of Life Therein, culminating with an Arrival at the Aral Sea, the World’s Worst Man-Made Ecological Catastrophe.


Dariga Nazarbayeva of Kazakhstan



Gulnara Karimova of Uzbekistan


Dariga Facts:

  • Business: Former head of state news agency and major media mogul. Convinced Kazakhstan to go easy on Borat.
  • Political: Harshest critic of her father’s regime, says the Economist. But is this just a ploy to convince the elites she’s not his puppet?
  • Musical: Jury member for Kazakh Idol.


  • Business: Runs red-light district clubs in Tashkent. Allegedly rakes in the soums by smuggling Uzbek prosititutes to Dubai.
  • Political: Benefits from the state’s crackdowns on all clubs except her own. In general, privatization has been good to Gulnara.
  • Musical: Moonlights as an R&B singer known as Googoosh.

Usually, I’d choose Dariga…. but wait, what’s this, Gulnara used to live in the same tiny 1000-person NJ town as my grandparents! I bet Grandma has talked her ear off while buying lox at Foodtown! Ok, Gulnara wins, and she totally rocks the bling.