Reuters International

ALMATY (Reuters) - Uzbekistan's once-powerful deputy prime minister, Rustam Azimov, has left his post after being appointed to another position, several Uzbek news websites reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.

The government press office could not be reached for comment on the reports carried by a number of websites. One site, Gazeta.uz., said Azimov would now run the state export-import insurance company, marking a major demotion from his role running the economy and finance.

Azimov was once seen as a political heavyweight with whom President Shavkat Mirziyoyev effectively shared power following the death of veteran leader Islam Karimov last year.

Two news websites, Kun.uz and Gazeta.uz, said deputy finance minister Jamshid Kuchkarov would replace Azimov as deputy PM.

Diplomatic and business sources told Reuters that Azimov was part of a ruling triumvirate which also included state security boss Rustam Inoyatov.

In April, however, sources familiar with the government said Mirziyoyev had moved to consolidate his power by sidelining Azimov and personally overseeing a programme of cautious economic change.

That effectively leaves Mirziyoyev and Inoyatov, head of the state security service SNB, as the two men sharing power in Uzbekistan, Central Asia's most populous nation, potentially further centralising decision-making.

(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Reuters

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