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Turkic Body Talk

13 Sep

Here’s an interesting image from last month’s meeting of the Turkic Council in Azerbaijan. Look who’s holding centre stage – yes, it’s none other than Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Paying rapt attention to the elder statesman of Turkic politics are Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambayev, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and his bespectacled friend. Turkey’s President Abdullah Gül looks on bemused as the others chat away, presumably, in Russian. Kazaxia’s favourite is the uncomfortable looking guy on the far left – Turkmenistan’s Vice-President Sapardurdi Toylıyev, who appears to be to nervous to catch anyone’s eye less he get into trouble back in Ashgabat.

Turkic Council not effective due to conflicting interests

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.

Kazakhstan: Will horse meat be on the table at Iran nuke talks?

21 Feb

As the horse meat scandal gallops on apace in Europe, delegates arriving in Almaty for the P5 + 1 – Iran Talks might want to take a close look at what they are being served to eat. Following a quick check of outlets in Almaty, Kazaxia has discovered a wide range of products containing horse DNA openly on sale.

On a frosty Wednesday morning, kazy, a smoked horse meat sausage, was widely available in shops and markets. In restaurants and cafes our correspondent was able to choose from a wide range of dishes laced with horse meat.

Plov adorned with kazy (horse meat sausage)

A generous serving of plov adorned with kazy (horse meat sausage)

These included besbarmak, Kazakhstan’s national dish – chunks of horse meat served with strips of pasta and washed down with a horsey broth and steaming dishes of plov, a rice-based dish sometimes adorned with slices of kazy. Kumys, fermented mares milk, is  a favourite tipple that is often served with these meals.

The Kazakhs pride themselves on their hospitality and it is unlikely that the delegates will be able to leave before eating their fill of horse meat. For the squeamish delegates, it is probably better to play the vegetarian card, but they will have to put up with sliced cucumber and tomato smothered in mayonnaise – the only known salad found in Kazakhstan.

Staying on the horse meat theme, in neighbouring Turkmenistan mystery surrounds the disappearance of 120 prized Akhal-Teke horses from the national stables over the last two years. Could these beautiful thoroughbreds somehow have ended up in a value burger on Europe’s dining tables?

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.