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Castro Provokes Central Asian Personality Cult Crisis

11 Dec

In its first move, the Association of Traditional Rulers has condemned the
late Cuban leader Fidel Castro for “failing to take seriously his
responsibilities as leader, in death as in life”.

The newly-formed Association unites Central Asia’s presidents – Gurbanguly
Berdymukhammedov of Turkmenistan, Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, Emomali
Rahmon of Tajikistan and Almazbek Atambayev of Kyrgyzstan, together with
candidate member Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan.

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Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev immortalised in an Almaty park

The Association pointed with regret to remarks at Fidel Castro’s funeral by
his brother and current leader Raul Castro that no monuments, institutions
or streets would be named after the late leader. Nor would statues and busts
be erected in his honour.

“The leader of the revolution strongly opposed any manifestation of cult of
personality,” said Raul Castro.

“The Association upholds the clear duty of all responsible leaders to accept
the burdens of office that history has thrust upon them,” a brief statement
from the Association declared. “Fidel Castro – in his dying wish – has
betrayed that trust.”

The Association insisted that a presidential personality “was not the
property of one lone individual, but belongs to the entire nation,
encapsulating, defining and leading that nation’s very essence, for all
eternity”. It termed any rejection of that lofty responsibility as
“selfishness”.

Central Asia’s leaders have graciously taken on themselves the burden of
having streets, towns or universities named after them, the Association
pointed out, and allowing statues of themselves or their ancestors to
inspire their populations in visible locations. They have also acceded to
popular requests to have portraits of themselves in schools, offices and
other locations.

The Association does however credit the late Cuban leader with adhering to
at least one of the standards of traditional rulers. “Fidel Castro did not
absolve himself of the responsibility to ensure that his close relatives –
and his mistresses – also selflessly took on the burdens of senior
government positions.”

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26 Jan

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Kazakhstan: In Praise of the First President

1 Dec

Lord Venal has seen fit to put pen to paper as Kazakhstan prepares to celebrate the Day of the First President on 1 December, the country’s newest public holiday.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev bestrides Kazakhstan like a colossus – his image beams down from billboards on nearly every street corner. The Park of the First President is a fixture of all major towns and cities. Every evening he tops the TV news agenda meeting with dignitaries, opening factories and winning EXPO 2017 bids.

The First President awaits visitors

The First President awaits visitors

Wildly loved by his adoring public – he won 96.5 % of the vote in the last election, The Leader of the Nation, as he is also known, has worked ceaselessly over the last twenty-two years as he has steered the good ship Kazakhstan through turbulent waters to leave the country becalmed in a sea of economic prosperity and political stagnation.

He is one of the world’s longest serving presidents – only a few presidents have kept the throne warmer for longer than the glorious leader – Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson and arch-rival Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan spring to mind.

Toys_4_NAN

The Nazarbayev University in his fairytale capital city, Astana, proudly carries his name as do a network of Nazarbayev Intellectual schools, which have mushroomed across Kazakhstan in recent years. The day cannot be far off when Nazarbayev kindergartens, fertility clinics and dating agencies will grace the provincial capitals.

I, along with my former cell mate, Jonathan Aitken, the famed hagiographer, who is in Astana to sing the praises of the First President yet again, would like to wish the Leader many happy returns on this the anniversary of the distant day back in 1991 when he won his first election along with the hearts of the Kazakh nation. Long may he reign – Kazakhstan’s very own Superkhan!

Kazakhstan: The Leader’s Fame Knows No Bounds

10 Oct

The cult of personality that has been developing around Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev shows no sign of abating as a Kazakh artist unveils a huge canvas with the president at its centre and a town in Turkey names a street after the long-serving leader.

Kazakh artist Amanat Nazarkul’s masterwork “Astana — The City of Youth and Knowledge” depicts President Nazarbayev surrounded by adoring crowds with white doves flying overhead as he opens a new university facility in the his purpose-built capital city.

Nazurkul took nine months to complete the canvas which contains imagery that harks back to the glory days of socialist realism. He believes his labour of love, which measures 32 square meters, could well be the largest painting in the country — even the former Soviet Union — and is looking for experts to verify this.

AFP reported that the monumental work was commissioned by Maksut Narikbayev, a former politician and now president of the Kazakh Humanities and Law University.

The Turkish town of Kırşehir has jumped on the Nazarbayev bandwagon by naming a street after the man who has been running Kazakhstan since Soviet times. Kırşehir is more commonly associated with the Mevlevi school of Sufism and the mystical side of Islam but it’s now seen fit to call one of its streets after Kazakhstan’s former communist party head.

The governor of Kırşehir province, Ozdemir Kachadzhyk, called it a great honour to name a street after Nazarbayev and praised him with the following:

During his leadership the country has made great achievements, and has become a symbol of prosperity, peace and stability for many nations and states, including Turkey

In recent years President Nazarbayev has been featured in a film, a play, had a statue erected to him in an Almaty park, had a university and a network of schools opened using his name and appeared as the hero of a children’s fairy tale, leading many observers to believe a personality cult may be forming.