Kazakhstan: EXPO 2017 Hits and Misses

11 Sep

11 September 2017

With Astana’s EXPO 2017 done and dusted, kazaxia is having a look at some of the hits and misses at Kazakhstan’s window to the world, which was on the theme of Future Energy.

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Crowds heading to Nur-Alem aka the Death Star

Top prize, of course, goes to Kazakhstan’s pavilion Nur-Alem, unflatteringly dubbed the Death Star by Foreign Policy. This was the biggest draw of the event with crowds queuing for hours to check out the eight floors of interactive displays on the green energy theme.

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Queueing to enter Nur-Alem at EXPO 2017

kazaxia’s particular favourite was the pedal-powered  race which saw two teams face off to pedal as fast as they could and generate energy.

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Pedal power face off in Nur-Alem

Special mention goes to Uzbekistan, which fully embraced the Future Energy concept with its Chevrolet (formerly Uz-Daewoo) Matiz adapted to run on a hydrogen-powered fuel cell.

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Uzbekistan’s fuel-cell powered Matiz

Turkmenistan seemed more intent on pushing President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov’s books and the upcoming Asian indoor martial arts fest in Ashgabat.

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A warm welcome to Turkmenistan’s pavilion

Georgia’s pavilion predictably focused on wine production, ignoring the Future Energy message, but the kazaxia special prize was reserved for Russia  with its novel take on the theme – it proposed using nuclear-powered ice breakers to crash through the ice cap to get at the fossil fuel deposits lurking in the depths of the Arctic Ocean.

The EXPO circus now moves on to the UAE leaving Astana with the task of transforming the site into a regional financial centre. Nur-Alem will remain as a museum for the general public to keep riffing on the green energy vibe.

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Central Asian Leader Gardening Craze Goes Viral

6 Jul

Inspired by yesterday’s gardening blog from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan’s spritely leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, who turns 77 today, has also channelled  his inner gardener. 

Gurbanguli’s Top Gardening Tips

5 Jul

Amid the heat of summer, Lord Venal enjoys nothing more than a cocktail in a shady garden on a cool evening before heading out for a nightclub. He admires those who toil away thanklessly to create a beautiful garden paradise. He was, therefore, inspired by the latest, lavishly-illustrated volume from his good friend Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov.

Turkmenistan’s inspirational president is known not just for his wise governance and literary and musical endeavours, but for his skills outdoors, including sporting prowess (notably horse riding) and gardening.

Here are his top tips from his latest book, Golden Fingers for a Golden Age, together with some of the charming illustrations:

Tip No. 1: Make sure you are appropriately dressed

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When digging the land and planting a tree, it is important to ensure you and any friends are wearing suitable clothing. You cannot go wrong with a dark lounge suit, appropriate for all weathers, though sometimes a white shirt and natty tie will suffice.

Tip No. 2: Decorate your gardening spot to make a pleasant setting

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Gardening has to be an all-encompassing experience, so laying down a carpet or two surrounding the plot you are to dig always brings a little elegance.

Tip No. 3: Make sure the ground is well prepared

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Nothing speeds a spot of gardening more than having a team of people working ahead of time, so that planting a tree, for example, takes almost no time at all.

Tip No. 4: Always ensure you have a good team of admirers and photographers

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Nothing helps create a pleasant atmosphere for a spot of gardening than bringing along a posse of cheerful admirers, complete with TV and still cameras. Some of the best shots can form the basis of a home movie or a souvenir album to remind you of the relaxing moments in the fresh air.

Tip No. 5: Don’t forget to water your plants

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Before you leave, finish off the fun by watering your plants well. Especially when it is raining.

 

UK Election: Venal Sticks His Oar In

2 Jun

Controversial election observer Lord Venal is back in the UK to monitor next week’s General Election.

With his good friend Theresa Maybot nosediving in the opinion polls, Venal singled out London’s Evening Standard for criticism.

“This left-wing rag is showing unprecedented bias against the Supreme Leader. Its polls are fake news designed to tarnish the image of our great leader at this crucial time in Albion’s history,” he said, referring to the newspaper that is edited by former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gideon Osborne – a sworn enemy from within the Tory party ranks of the Maybot.

“My own polling shows the Maybot on 83%, the loony lefties on 5% and the Lib Dems and Greens on 2% with the other parties accounting for the rest of the votes.”

As a staunch Tory, Venal was strictly on message when he parroted: “We need to stand united; Brexit means Brexit. Only strong and stable government can deliver a stable and strong government.”

Venal recently courted yet more controversy when he urged the UK to follow Central Asia’s lead and send the undeserving poor and public sector workers to the fields to harvest strawberries to make up for an expected fall in cheap labour following Brexit.

“Teachers get six weeks summer holiday – who else gets this much time off? We should tear them away from their Guardians and put these lazy layabouts to work in the fields of Albion; at a stroke this would slash immigration by thousands,” he told anyone who would listen whilst holding court in his local boozer, pint in one hand, Daily Mail in the other.

The good Lord is hoping to profit big time from Brexit. He has been in Central Asia drumming up business for the independent UK, offering shortbread for Tico Tuk Tuks. He recently removed his Uz Daewoo Tico conversion plant from Tyneside to Cyprus to continue benefitting from EU subsidies after Britain’s pullout from the bloc.

Ashgabat Blues Over Dictatorland

7 Apr

We have received the following missive from an acquaintance of Lord Venal, who recently had cause to be in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat.

Somewhat disappointed by the closing of all nightclubs at an unearthly early hour, he was gratified to receive a personal invitation from President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to drop by at one of his elegant palaces. “After a few drinks, His Excellency pulled out his guitar and treated me and the young ladies present to some of his favourite songs, all written by himself! Knowing I’m from distant Albion, we then settled down to watch the latest BBC production, Dictatorland, which His Excellency enjoyed, but only up to a point. Knowing that a friend from my (rather minor) public school works in the upper echelons of the BBC, he immediately dashed off a letter for me to pass on, which I reproduce below.”

To Director of BBC

London

England

Dear esteemed Sir!

I watched your fine show Dictatorland (thanks to excellent Hola!!) which show success in fellow region leaders in important task keeping order and maintaining popular support and stability in country Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Belarus. You know these leaders follow me in my example how to keep good order on streets, even if in some way they act very primitive, like dictator of tinpot. We here in Turkmenistan famous not needing to shoot people on street like you showed in Kazakhstan, or beating people. We keep order by kindness and goodness of all police officers and lofty wisdom of president (myself).

So why then BBC not ask to come to Turkmenistan? We do not understand this incomprehensible decision. You only need to address yourself to me I arrange everything for you. See nice things, meet nice people. I let you interview me (but note you don’t ask questions, just stand up and write down everything I say in little notebook). You make good programme very popular around world and give glory to my country.

I look forward I hear from you with offer of coming to Turkmenistan.

Gurbanguly

(President)

A Capital New Idea for Uzbekistan?

1 Apr

Following his visit to Kazakhstan’s glitzy capital Astana last week, Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Sheva to his mates, has decided that he wants a bling-bling capital for himself and has set his sights on moving Uzbekistan’s capital from Tashkent to Uchkuduk, in the centre of the country.

Uchkuduk:  set to change from this…                                      … to this?

Uzbekistan’s rubber stamp parliament is set to give its approval to the move in a special session called for today. Moving the capital is being seen as a further consolidation of Sheva’s power – he has certainly been ringing the changes since his predecessor, Islam ‘Butch’ Karimov, died last year.

Uchkuduk, founded in 1958 as a Soviet ‘secret city,’ is in an ideal location for the capital as it is in the dead centre of Uzbekistan. It is at the heart of gold and uranium mining in the country and can be reached, with some difficulty, from all the main towns and cities.

President Mirziyoyev first heard about Uchkuduk at young pioneers’ camp in the 1980s via Yalla’s smash hit ‘Uchkuduk’. The president craves a Trump Tower as a centrepiece of the ambitious new capital and is keen on getting Mr Trump’s money men in the Kremlin on the case when Sheva and his boys visit Moscow later this year. Russian PM, Jimmy Bear, always on the lookout for a canny investment, is sure to be one of the first in line with a sackful of freshly laundered cash.

 

 

Fathers and Daughters

23 Mar

Ivanka Trump’s recent move into an office in the West Wing, despite her earlier protestations that she would not be taking a role in Daddy’s administration, has brought to mind another high-profile presidential daughter of recent times, Uzbekistan’s Gulnara Karimova.

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Fathers and Daughters: Islam Karimov, Donald Trump, Gulnara Karimova and Ivanka Trump (photo borrowed from a tweet via @AmbKennedy_ret)

In American politics, there is little precedent for a president’s daughter taking on an advisory position in the White House. Maybe it is fitting to look at the rise and subsequent fate of the daughter of Uzbekistan’s late president Islam Karimov.

Gulnara Karimova, also known as GooGoosha, was once a high-flyer in Uzbekistan, dabbling in telecoms, show-business, high fashion, charity and construction – some even spoke of her as being next-in-line to the throne, but she suffered a spectacular fall from grace in March 2014 when she was placed under house arrest in Tashkent following a huge corruption scandal. Little has been heard of her since.

Keeping this in mind, Ivanka had better make sure she doesn’t get the wrong side of Daddy Trump, who is said to model himself on Karimov, the strongman president who ruled Uzbekistan for 25 years until his demise in September 2016.

Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” is said to be modelled on Karimov’s “O’zbekiston kelajagi buyuk davlat” (Uzbekistan, the state with a great future).

These two cantankerous old guys both share a hatred of the free press, are prone to making bizarre off the cuff remarks, bear grudges indefinitely and are fiercely opposed to what they see as Islamic extremism.

Ivanka should be mindful of GooGoosha’s fate, or else she may find herself locked up in a shed in the White House grounds.