Europe

Uzbekistan's longtime ruler Islam Karimov hospitalized

  • FILE In this Tuesday, April 26, 2016 file pool photo Uzbek President Islam Karimov speaks at a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin following their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. Uzbekistan's government has issued, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, an unusual statement announcing the hospitalization of President Islam Karimov, who has ruled the former Soviet republic in Central Asia for more than 25 years. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP, File)

    FILE In this Tuesday, April 26, 2016 file pool photo Uzbek President Islam Karimov speaks at a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin following their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. Uzbekistan's government has issued, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, an unusual statement announcing the hospitalization of President Islam Karimov, who has ruled the former Soviet republic in Central Asia for more than 25 years. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE In this Tuesday, April 26, 2016 file pool photo Uzbek President Islam Karimov speaks at a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin following their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. Uzbekistan's government has issued, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, an unusual statement announcing the hospitalization of President Islam Karimov, who has ruled the former Soviet republic in Central Asia for more than 25 years. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP, File)

    FILE In this Tuesday, April 26, 2016 file pool photo Uzbek President Islam Karimov speaks at a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin following their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. Uzbekistan's government has issued, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, an unusual statement announcing the hospitalization of President Islam Karimov, who has ruled the former Soviet republic in Central Asia for more than 25 years. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE In this file photo taken on Friday, July 10, 2015, Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov gestures while speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) summit in Ufa, Russia. Uzbekistan's government has issued, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, an unusual statement announcing the hospitalization of President Islam Karimov, who has ruled the former Soviet republic in Central Asia for more than 25 years. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, file)

    FILE In this file photo taken on Friday, July 10, 2015, Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov gestures while speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) summit in Ufa, Russia. Uzbekistan's government has issued, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, an unusual statement announcing the hospitalization of President Islam Karimov, who has ruled the former Soviet republic in Central Asia for more than 25 years. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, file)  (The Associated Press)

Uzbekistan's government has issued an unusual statement announcing the hospitalization of President Islam Karimov, who has ruled the former Soviet republic in Central Asia for more than 25 years.

Sunday's statement gives no details about the nature of the illness, saying only that specialists are giving the 78-year-old president a full medical examination and subsequent treatment will require "a certain amount of time."

Karimov, who tolerates no dissent, has ruled Uzbekistan since Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev made him the republic's Communist Party chief in 1989. In December 1991, just days after the Soviet Union ceased to exist, Karimov was elected president of the newly independent state.

As he has aged, questions have been raised both about a successor and the long-term stability of the strategically placed Central Asian country.