Tag Archives: Almazbek Atambayev

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.


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

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.”


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

Kyrgyzstan: Diary of an Election Observer

31 Oct

Kazaxia is honoured once again to link up with Lord Venal as he returned to the region to observe Kyrgyzstan’s presidential election on 30 October.

Greetings from Bishkek, a pleasant little city with a smattering of good bars and restaurants. I’m staying in the centrally-located Hyatt hotel which gives me a chance to explore the city and meet some of the electorate in person.

I had been warned in advance about rising anti-foreigner sentiment in the country, but I am pleased to report that my experiences with the Kyrgyz were all positive. I found the hotel staff to be most helpful and friendly. In Metro bar I saw that the locals, especially young women, were going out of their way to interact with foreigners of all ages in a most friendly manner.

On election day itself I unfortunately missed the early start as I was feeling a bit under the weather after the Halloween shindig in Metro. However, I made up for it later in the day and visited a few voting locations in Bishkek. The polling stations were doing a brisk trade by late afternoon.

The election was quite an open affair with 16 candidates vying for the top job – this was the first election in Central Asia where the result was not a foregone conclusion. The voters I spoke to had either voted for Almazbek Atambayev, the frontrunner, or an unfancied candidate called Protiv Vsekh.

The presents on offer in the polling stations were not as good as those in Kazakhstan, but still I came away with a very fetching Kyrgyz hat and some bottles of vintage Kyrgyz congac. Fortunately, I had brought my rose-tinted specs with me from my visit to Kazakhstan in April.

I spent the evening with my new buddy, Boris, a first-time observer from Washington DC. Boris is finishing up his doctoral thesis ‘Incipient Manasism in the post-Soviet Kyrgyz Space’, a most interesting topic which he described to me at length over a few bottles of the local blackcurrant wine he’d brought back from his visit to Osh.

The result when it came took us both a little by surprise as the victor, Almazbek Atambayev had only managed to amass a paltry 63% of the vote. In my previous experiences of observing elections in this part of the world, this was quite a poor result as 80% + is the norm for wannabe presidents.

This result means that there will be no run-off, which is a shame as there are a few more restaurants I would have liked to have checked out with Boris this time round, such as Smokie’s Bar B-Q and the Obama Bar and Grill, as the next election is not until 2017, but such is the life of an election observer.

Editor’s note: Lord Venal’s observation mission was funded by the Centre for Reporting and Analysing Politics