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Are Central Asian Leaders Merely Mortal, After All?

23 May

Alarming evidence has appeared over recent months that some Central Asian leaders may, in fact, be merely mortal, despite claims to the contrary, as the leaders of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan both hit the headlines recently with health scares.

When President Berdymuhkamedov took a tumble from his mount in a horse race in which he won an $11 million prize, he also took a fall from the notion that he was, if not immortal, at least a demi-god.

Rumours of Uzbekistan’s President Karimov suffering a heart attack in March set alarm bells ringing that the long-serving president was, after all, prone to the same fate as we mere mortals. Karimov’s health has long been a subject of debate – a few years ago he was apparently at death’s door with leukemia.

In neighbouring Kazakhstan, President Navarbayev only has to hop on to a plane for rumours to start flying that he is going abroad for major surgery, calling into question his status as a potential demi-god.

In the cases of Karimov and Nazarbayev, both are in their 70s so it’s not really surprising that their respective states of health should be of concern . A doctor, contacted by Kazaxia, confirmed that most likely both, as indeed all the leaders, will one day die if it turns out that  they are not immortal.

As for the others, Kyrgyzstan’s President Atambayev allegedly enjoys getting thoroughly mortal on occasion, which rules him out and Tajikistan’s Rahmon is quite possibly immortal, although he will probably achieve his vicarious immortality through the fruit of his loins as has happened in North Korea, Azerbaijan, and Syria, although, of course, his successor should be wary of how things have panned out for President al-Assad.

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Uzbekistan: Is Santa Ban Linked to Osh Violence?

19 Dec

Observers have reacted with dismay to the news that Uzbekistan is making moves to outlaw Santa Claus as the authorities in Tashkent call for Santa’s  Russian cousin Ded Moroz to be banned from the nation’s airwaves this festive season.

Kazaxia can exclusively reveal that the ban is not some spur-of-the-moment decision but is linked to a long-running dispute with its neighbour Kyrgyzstan. The Santa spat dates back to 2007 when Kyrgyzstan usurped the North Pole as the ideal base for the global present deliverer to base his operations. Tashkent pointed to a Stalin-era map which showed Santa’s new base to be in Uzbek territory.

The problem worsened when inter-ethnic violence broke out in Osh, Kyrgyzstan in 2010 between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks, leaving hundreds dead. Tashkent didn’t react at the time but has now decided to make it’s move by aiming to strangle a valuable foreign currency earner for Bishkek.  Not only are the Kyrgyz coining it in from  Santa Claus – who is  forced to pay an  extortionate rent for the mountain base, but the Russian’s have also got in on the act with a separate base for Ded Moroz, albeit at a much lower rate.

It looks like Santa Claus/Ded Moroz will be giving Uzbekistan a wide-berth this time round, so all that children in the country will have to look forward to is a visit from Evil Uncle Karim, Tashkent’s answer to the traditional present deliverer. Evil Uncle Karim comes with a sinister twist – after descending the chimney he steals the kids’ toys, raids their piggy banks and then drags them off screaming to toil in his cotton fields.

Here Comes Central Asia’s Supergroup?

19 Oct

This clip of Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov revealing his talent on the guitar, spotted by EurasiaNet, got Kazaxia thinking about other musical  members of Central Asia’s ruling families and the supergroup they could create if they were to get together.

Uzbekistan’s royal family has its very own pop star in residence, Gulnara Karimova, or to use her stage name GooGoosha, eldest daughter of President Islam Karimov. She could duet with part-time opera diva, Dariga Nazarbayeva, daughter of Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, while Berdy strums away in the background.

It’s not clear what Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan’s ruling families could bring to the mix. Perhaps the Kyrgyz could supply the security, with their extensive recent experience of upheaval.  Maybe Tajikistan could carry the hat around the audience with all proceeds going to the Rogun dam project.