Russia’s Putin says to visit Uzbekistan on Tuesday after leader’s death

President Vladimir Putin (C) of Russia arrives to attend the G20 Summit in Hangzhou

HANGZHOU, China (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would visit Uzbekistan on Tuesday to honor the memory of President Islam Karimov, who died last week after suffering a stroke.

Addressing a news conference at the G20 in China, Putin said he hoped the Central Asian’s country new leadership would be able to preserve stability. Karimov had ruled the mainly Muslim ex-Soviet nation for 27 years. He was 78.

“One can make different judgements about what he did for his country, one can view various moments in Uzbekistan’s modern history differently, but he preserved stability in the country, he preserved its steady development,” said Putin.

“New people will come … I hope very much that they will be able to preserve this stability. For a country like Uzbekistan, it’s extremely important, it’s just indispensable for its self-preservation and further steady development.”

Putin said he also hoped Russia’s good relations with Uzbekistan would be maintained.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Additional reporting by Maria Tsvetkova in Moscow; Writing by Jack Stubbs, Katya Golubkova and Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Andrew Osborn)