Qazaqstan Election 2019: Venal’s Preliminary Report

3 Jun

With just under a week to go until Qazaqstan goes to the polls to anoint a new president, Lord Venal, head of the Kleptis Observation Cabal (KOC), has shared his preliminary findings on the vote with kazaxia.

A selection of campaign posters in Almaty, Qazaqstan

“The motto of this election has been ‘You can’t run from the truth’ and the truth is that this is Qazaqstan’s most free and fair vote ever. There are seven, I repeat seven, candidates to choose from including a woman,” Venal told kazaxia. “This gives the voters an unprecedented choice. This truly is Qazaqstan standing on the threshold of a glorious new dawn.”

The new president getting some wise advice from some former leaders

There has even been a lively televised debate in which one of the candidates, Sadybek Tugel, railed against “Satan’s places” calling for night clubs, saunas and casino-masinos to be closed down. Lord Venal recalls someone who looked remarkably like Tugel sharing a pitcher or two of Pravda Punch with him in a Nur-Sultan sauna-cum night club a few weeks ago in a KOC sponsored event.

Sadybek Tugel in all his finery

One worry raised by the seasoned election observer is the role of the Communist People’s Party candidate, Zhambyl Akhmetbekov. The representative of the party’s ruling troika, who is hoping to build on the 1.36% of the vote he garnered in 2011, seems to have come under overt Western influence, whilst raging endlessly against the pernicious values of the West. He has fallen under the spell of cult German philosopher Carl Marks and his utopian ideas and has has taken to courting the lucrative Burger King customer-base vote.

Eat Burger King, Vote Communist…


Qazaqstan: Let’s Get Steve Bannon a Kumys Milkshake

23 May

Guess who’s visiting Almaty as a guest speaker at the Eurasian Media Forum this week? Here’s a clue…

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Good ole boy Steve looking like he’s in need of a milkshake

Yes, it’s none other than Steve Bannon, the controversial far-right rabble-rouser from America. Bannon, Donald Trump’s former chief strategist in the White House, is now trying to stir up trouble in Europe. For some reason he has been invited to take the podium at Almaty’s mediafest, run by Dariga Nazarbayeva, the Leader of the Nation’s eldest daughter.
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Steve’s mate Nigel Farage gets ‘milkshaked’ in Newcastle

To welcome Steve, we here at kazaxia suggest he try kumys, fermented mare’s milk, the local drink of choice.
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Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robibson) gets ‘milkshaked’

Is there anyone at the forum who would like to oblige and give Steve a traditional British-style milkshake welcome, as meted out to his fellow far-right cronies Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson (aka Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) in the UK recently?

The Nur-Sultanification of London

1 Apr

The UK government is calling for London to be re-named Nigel, after the hero of the UK’s attempt to escape the grasp of the eurocrats and regain its independence, Nigel Farage.

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Jack Taylor/Getty Images

In the latest desperate bid to bring the nation together in the aftermath of the Brexit debacle, the UK’s prime minister Theresa May cast her robotic eye far and wide and came upon Qazaqstan, which has recently seen its hero of the fight for liberation from the Soviet Union and president for almost three decades, Nursultan Nazarbayev, finally hand over power (of sorts).

His successor, Qasym-Jomart Toqayev, immediately called for the capital to be renamed after the first president and, hey presto, Astana is now known as Nur-Sultan! Upon reading  this news in The Economist, May immediately summoned her cabinet to tell them her latest wheeze to make everyone forget the kilos de merde that the UK finds itself in.

Westminster is still debating whether it will be ‘Ni-Gel’ or just plain ‘Nigel’. A series of indicative votes are to held to decide what the fuq is going to happen…

You’re Welcome to the New Qazaqstan!

22 Mar

It’s been three days since Qasym-Jomart Toqayev took over as president in Qazaqstan. Astana may have had its name changed to Nur-Sultan, meanwhile not much else has changed in the country…

Here are some images from the Nauryz (spring equinox) celebrations in Almaty:

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Qazaqstan: Adios, Astana!

21 Mar

Well, well, well, it’s been quite the week of changes in our Qazaqstan. On Tuesday, 19 March, long time president Nursultan Nazarbayev dropped his resignation bombshell and on the next day, following his inauguration as Qazaqstan’s second-ever president, Qassym-Jomart Tokayev announced that Astana, which means ‘capital’ in Qazaq, would henceforth be known as Nur-Sultan!


Just another gloomy day in Nur-Sultan

With this bold move, Qazaqstan became the second country in the world to name its capital after its first president, with the USA’s Washington being the other. It’s interesting that the first name rather than the surname was chosen here. Trying to come up with some other examples of this, We could only think of Gary, Indiana, Mary, Turkmenistan and Sydney, Australia where a first name has been chosen.

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The First President enjoying some well-earned rest

As Leader of the Nation, Nazarbayev still has a tight grip on the reins of power in Qazaqstan, leaving Tokayev as the Leader of Sorts. Perhaps the choice of Nur-Sultan for the capital’s new moniker was  a warning shot from President Tokayev – surely the plan was for Nazarbayev, or at a pinch, Nur-Astana as the new name for the capital.

Could we be about to see challenges to the Leader of the Nation’s rule for the first time in a generation (or two)? According to Lord Venal, probably not: “When you consider that President Tokayev is a regime insider and a savvy diplomat, than he probably just got confused in all the excitement of being anointed president,” Lord Venal told kazaxia.





Qazaqstan: Au Revoir Nureke!

19 Mar

It’s the end of an era as Qazaqstan’s long-ruling leader Nursultan Nazarbayev finally relinquishes the reins of power.


The end of an era – Nazarbayev resigns, Niyazov and Karimov dead…

After nearly 30 years of President Nazarbayev at the helm, Lord Venal is said to be excited by the prospect of observing a presidential election without the presence of the soon to be ex-president.

“It won’t be the same without Nureke,” Venal told kazaxia, with a tear in his eye. “I sort of remember 2005, oh what a party that was,” he added wistfully.

kazaxia’s political guru, Gerry Kefali, had this to say: “Nazarbayev, who  remains the Leader of the Nation, is likely to continue to pull the strings in Qazaqstan for some time to come yet. While he may step aside from the top job, the system he has constructed will trundle on, it just remains to be seen who the new figurehead will be.”

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We direct you to Joanna Lillis’s excellent book Dark Shadows: Inside the Secret World of Kazakhstan to get the lowdown on how that system was created.



Top o’ the Morning to Ya, Ashgabat!

14 Mar


             Shamrock in Ashgabat: President’s new Irish pub to open on St Patrick’s Day!



Ashgabat’s Irish community are excited over the imminent opening of the city’s Irish pub, due on 17 March – St Patrick’s day. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov is showing a personal interest, visiting the future venue to give the staff the benefit of his experience in styling party venues for the masses.


The venue admittedly looks rather bare at present, especially the area projected for the beer garden. But President Berdymukhammedov’s inspiration, combined with detailed instructions to the workers, will ensure the complete fitting out of the exciting new venue by the celebrated date.


“This will be right up there in Ashgabat’s social calendar,” Lord Venal, our regular friend barside, enthuses. “My charming young assistant has already put it in my diary.” He is intending to fly in for the event and expects, as is customary on his visits, to also be received at the presidential palace.

GooGoosha Lives!

6 Mar

6 March 2019

Sensational reports have reached kazaxia’s ears claiming that Gulnara Karimova, the errant first daughter of late Uzbek president Islam ‘Butch’ Karimov, is alive and, hmm, probably not so much well, and still in Uzbekistan.

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GooGoosha in happier times with her mate Gerard 

Karimova, known to her legion of fans by her stage name GooGoosha, disappeared form public view in 2014 and was long rumoured to be under house arrest in Tashkent. Now Uzbekistan’s General Prosecutors Office has confirmed that she was indeed being held in her apartment in Tashkent, accompanied by her daughter Iman.

While she may have been expecting to celebrate 8 March, International Women’s Day, with what remains of her family at home with some flowers, chocolates and a new iron, those plans have now been scuppered – the former pop diva and leading fashionista has been sent back to prison to complete her five-year term for ‘violating’ the terms of her domestic detention.

It seems she just couldn’t resist getting back on social media….

Lord Venal’s Stocking Fillers

21 Dec

As the end of another year approaches, Lord Venal is back with some great gift ideas for Christmas, New Year or whatever tickles your fancy.


Rose-tinted Specs

Whilst in the attic of Venal Hall looking for the tree decorations, the good lord came across a box of rose-tinted spectacles from an election observation trip to Kazakhstan some years ago.
With reform fatigue beginning to affect seasoned Uzbekistan watchers, these glasses are the ideal medium to regain your enthusiasm for the ‘unprecedented’ changes taking place in Tashkent and beyond.
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Dark Shadows: Inside the Secret World of Kazakhstan

Top of the Lord’s books of the year, this masterful tome by journalist Joanna Lillis, who takes a look at Kazakhstan in a wide-ranging trip across this fascinating country.
Some of Lord Venal’s old cronies are featured in the book, although he was reported to be a bit upset that his own sterling election observing in Kazakhstan over the years did not feature.
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Black Sea

Food book of the year goes to Caroline Eden’s blend of travelog and recipes from around the Black Sea. This book solved many of Lord Venal’s gift dilemmas this festive season. It’s a great companion to 2016’s Samarkand.
Lord Venal wishes you happy holidays, wherever you are!

Kazakhstan: Yellow Vests – Nothing to Fear

18 Dec

Kazakhstan has poured scorn on the Egyptian model of banning the sale of yellow hi-vis vests for fear of the people. In a characteristic twist, Kazakhstan’s political leadership – far from quaking in their boots at the sight of people on the streets sporting the hi-vis jackets – insists that they are a symbol of the population’s helpfulness.

“The Leader of the Nation never go out without his hi-vis vest, he’s always on the look-out for someone in need,” an Akorda spokesperson told a French journalist recently (albeit in the warmth of the Akorda royal palace). “When you see Emmanuel, tell him how different Kazakhs are, out on the street ever ready to help someone in need.”


Topping everyone’s list of helpful people in hi-vis vests are the sturdy members of the police force. In all weathers they are out and about, always ready to lend anyone in need a helping hand.


“I have often been helped on my way home by a smiling copper or two,” Lord Venal – long familiar with the streets of Kazakhstan’s cities – told Kazaxia. “Sometimes as dawn is breaking after one or two cocktails in a charming nightclub, I have become separated from my young companion and struggle to find my way home. But the charming young coppers never fail to step forward.”

Some Kazakhs point out the rare exception to this rule. “A few young folk like to walk around the streets with hi-vis jackets with the word ‘PRESS’ plastered on the back,” Masimov Karimov told Kazaxia. “That’s not really a very good idea.”