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.”


Dark Shadows: Inside the Secret World of Kazakhstan – The Cocktail

22 Nov

22 November 2018

kazaxia is in London for the literary event of the year – the launch of Joanna Lillis’s compelling book Dark Shadows: Inside the Secret World of Kazakhstan.

dark shadows cover

To celebrate this momentous occasion, we’ve teamed up with Knidos Cookery Club and have invented the Dark Shadows cocktail: a blend of one part vodka (Kazakhstan’s favourite tipple), three parts cloudy cider (apples are from Kazakhstan!), and a splash of blood-like Grenadine (or pomegranate syrup or juice) to convey something of the secretive nature of Kazakhstan. It makes the perfect companion when reading this gripping saga.

Dark Shadows – the cocktail

Based on 13-years of on-the-ground reporting, this book lifts the veil to take a glimpse at what’s really going on in this Central Asian oil and gas powerhouse, making it the ideal stocking-filler for Kazakhstan fans. you can order a copy from the publisher, I.B.Tauris or look for a copy signed by the author in Foyles in London.

Joanna Lillis signing copies of her book in Foyles, London


Inspirational New Kleptis Book Series: Magnarum Rerum™

25 Oct

kazaxia has news of another inspirational new Kleptis book series: Magnarum Rerum™

As the gift-exchanging season approaches, what better way to inspire your friends than with the new series Magnarum Rerum™ of Latin translations of the works of Central Asia’s inspirational leaders?

Following in Vladimir Putin’s bold footsteps, Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev – memorably dubbed the “Cicero of the Steppes” by his faithful biographer Jonathan Aitken – finds his true voice in these translations, where the presidential words echo sonorously and timelessly and bring out the profundity of thought.

Gurbanguly Berdimukhamedov – dubbed “Berdy the Bard” by his adoring populace – has not only his lofty speeches rendered into elegant Latin, but his songs too, complete with ancient musical notation for those who wish to perform them.

Lord Venal, the founder of what promises to be a highly successful series, rejects suggestions it is merely an imitation of the recent Orationis Selectae of Vladimir Putin’s works. “Maior e longinquo reverentia, as we were taught in my rather minor public school,” the learned Lord exclaims. 

Plucking another memory from his far-off schooldays, he turns to the barman who is dilatory in bringing his cocktail. “Vel mihi ede potum vel mihi redde nummos meos!” His companion smiles meekly.

Armenia Welcomes Green-fingered Macron

12 Oct

12 October 2018

France’s president Emmanuel Macron has taken his spade to Armenia where he is helping to spread the gardening craze that started in Central Asia.

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Earlier this year, France’s most enthusiastic horticulturalist was in the US where he did a spot of gardening on the White house lawn in his effort to alleviate the threat of climate change.

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Googoosha Lives?

4 Oct

5 October 2018

Rumours are reaching kazaxia from Tashkent that the artist formerly known as Googoosha, Gulnara Karimova, has been released from prison and placed under house arrest once again.

GooGoosha and Gerard

Googoosha and Gerard Depardieu in happier times…

According to totally unconfirmed reports, she has been spotted picking cotton in Jizzak region and near Qo’ng’irot in Karakalpakstan. Back in the day, Googoosha was big yoga fan and now it seems she’s indulging in a bit of karmic yoga by helping out with the harvest, on a totally voluntary basis, of course.


Kleptis Inspirational Books in Translation™

4 Oct

4 October 2018

Sometimes books just cry out to be translated, as nations unfamiliar with inspirational classics linger unjustly in the darkness of ignorance. Kleptis has now stepped in to meet the challenge with a new range of books to be translated from English into the five main Central Asian languages.

The first two books in the new series form a unique double-bill, the first and second editions of a rare book, published by Pelican Books in Scarfolk with cover designs by the inimitable Richard Littler.

“I’ve often been bothered by pesky books that spread complete lies about one,” Lord Venal wrote in his endorsement of the new series. “I was enjoying a cocktail with Emomali the other day and he said exactly the same. These books clearly have resonance here in the region.”

The new series complements the highly sought-after and inspirational collection of translations from the Central Asian languages into English of presidential memoirs, speeches and guides to rallying in desert conditions. “No home should be without this collection proudly adorning one’s shelves,” Lord Venal adds.

“I feel both these series will make a crucial contribution to international understanding, just as my encounters with young people, particularly of the opposite sex, achieve on the personal level,” the modest Lord ventured.

Disclaimer: For reasons unconnected to Kleptis, some books in the series might not be available to purchasers within Central Asia.


Desktops for Despots

28 Sep

28 September 2018

Kleptis Elegant Presidential Desk Ornaments™


“Mine’s the biggest!”

Important Advisory Notice from Shilling and Pence

It has come to our client’s notice that untrue, fallacious and unsubstantiated rumours are circulating that their unique malachite range of elegant presidential desktop sets, so widely favoured by occupants of presidential office in the Kremlin in Moscow and across the region, somehow conceal listening and monitoring devices designed to eavesdrop on conversation, computer and mobile phone communications.


“Are you sure you want to hand it over?”

Our client absolutely, completely and utterly refutes, rejects and contests these unfounded rumours. They are absolutely without foundation, substance or basis.

Kleptis Elegant Presidential Desk Ornaments™, a company long established in the British Virgin Islands, sells these distinguished ornaments in good faith and solely, completely and utterly for the sole, only and unique aim of providing pleasure to our customers.


“Mine’s got chocolate inside”

For the avoidance of doubt, anyone considering, contemplating or preparing to repeat such slanderous claims must stop, cease and desist.


“Can you get me one at least this big?”

Lord Venal of Whissendine in the County of Rutland, while in no way, manner or form connected to the company either directly, indirectly or via any third party, whether financially or otherwise, has also asked us to make absolutely, thoroughly and utterly clear that any repetition of these unfounded, untrue and slanderous claims will be met with a robust legal response, whether in the courts of the British Virgin Islands or any other appropriate jurisdiction.

Shilling and Pence, London EC4


(Tracksuit not included)

Lord Venal adds: These elegant malachite sets to grace any presidential desk – adorned with your country’s coat of arms or national flag – are still available exclusively for those of presidential rank. Prices start from $499,000, including shipping and installation.

Islam Karimov: A Life in Pictures

3 Sep

03 September 2018

It’s been two years since Uzbekistan’s first president Islam Karimov shook off this mortal coil.

To mark this momentous occasion, we have collected together some images from an exhibition on the life and times of President Karimov held earlier this year in Tashkent.

We hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

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Astana Turns 20

10 Jul

10 July 2018

kazaxia is just back from a trip to the capital, Astana, which celebrated its 20th birthday last Friday, coincidentally the same day as President Nursultan Nazarbyev turned 78.

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To mark this momentous occasion, the good burghers of Qazaqstan kindly sent presents to Astana such as a fish-shaped bridge and a botanical garden, while the city also received an international financial centre, soon to be located on the premises of EXPO 2017.