Tag Archives: Bolat Abilov

Kazakhstan: Artist Targeted in Crackdown

2 Feb

Kazakhstan’s crackdown on dissent, which has been unfolding since an ‘unsanctioned’ opposition rally in Almaty on 28 January, has seen performance artist Kanat Ibragimov hauled in to stand trial alongside well-known opposition figures such as Bolat Abilyov, Mukhtar Shakhanov and Gulzhan Yergaliyeva.

Kanat Ibragimov screams for democracy in Almaty on 28 January 2012

Kanat Ibragimov, unlike Bolat Abilov, escaped a prison sentence and was given a fine for daring to take to the podium and call for democracy. In the generally grey world of Kazakh politics, Kanat cuts a colourful figure with his history of protest actions. He posits himself on the side of art rather than politics, but his activities carry an edge that never fails to needle the authorities.

A panda meets an untimely end at the hands of Kanat Ibragimov, Almaty, January 2010

Kazaxia first came across Kanat at a rally in January 2010. The demonstration was protesting Chinese expansionism into Kazakhstan and Kanat’s response was to symbolically decapitate a toy panda. Other actions he has initiated include ‘A Fish Rots from the Head Down‘ in which he savages a fish with an axe on Almaty’s Republic Square. I wonder who the ‘head’ could refer to here?

While Astana can cope with any amount of shouting and barracking from the podium by the usual suspects, Kanat Ibragimov’s humour is an approach that the stilted grey men are ill-equipped to deal with. Fines and prison sentences will only spur this performance artist onto greater things.


Kazakhstan Goes to the Polls

11 Jan

Lord Venal has interrupted his winter break to share his thoughts on Kazakhstan’s upcoming parliamentary elections with Kazaxia.

Kazakhstan prepares for the rush of voters

Kazakhstan’s big day is getting ever closer and I have decided to cut short my winter break in the Maldives and share my thoughts on the latest developments in the land of Abay. It’s been quiet in the Maldives this year anyway as the boisterous Kazakh contingent was conspicuous by its absence after allforeign travel for officials was banned in the light of the troubles in Zhanaozen.

I have been keeping a close eye on events in Kazakhstan. After the unrest in the west some observers suggested postponing the elections and it was even mooted to cancel the vote in Zhanaozen, which is still under lockdown, but the Leader wisely pooh-poohed this idea. It is important at this troubling time that the people get out to the polling booths and put their support behind Nur Otan and the other party that will be in parliament to maintain peace and stability in the country. The banning of troublemaker opposition candidates such as Bolat Abilov and Gulzhan Yergaliyeva can only be for the good of the country as a whole.

I found a copy of Jonathan Aitken‘s latest work Kazakhstan and Twenty Years of Independence: Surprises and Stereotypes After 20 Years of Independence in my Christmas stocking and have been dipping into it with relish. Recent events in Kazakhstan suggest that maybe Jeffrey Archer, that other disgraced former Tory MP who has done time in prison, would have been a better choice to pen something about the country with his prolific fiction writing skills. I hope Akorda was happy with the present I sent – a copy of Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, which has some interesting ideas for contemplation.

2012 will be an exciting year for Anglo-Kazakh co-operation, especially with Tony Blair advising Astana. Next time I speak in the house I will highlight some business opportunities I have uncovered for British firms. With at least 16 people killed and scores wounded in Zhanaozen on 16 December there would appear to be a gap in the market for some non-lethal riot control materials such as water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas. Britain’s long experience in Northern Ireland has made it a world leader in the production of riot control gear and this golden opportunity to assist Kazakhstan should not be missed.

Kazakhstan: The vexed question of language

8 Oct

There’s not too many issues that can get the people of Kazakhstan hot under the collar – the threat of Chinese expansion is one that springs to mind, another is the use of right-hand drive cars – but one sure-fire issue that can guarantee a good turnout at a rally is the vexed question of language.

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Kazakh, the state and official language, still struggles to claim a dominant role in the country, with Russian still in widespread use in many spheres.

Last Sunday, October 2, around 1500 people turned up in warm, sunny conditions to protest in favour of the Kazakh language, with some calling for a clause in the constitution that gives Russian equal status for use in state bodies to be dropped.

The usual suspects were out in force from the world of nationalist politics and literature. Two hours of speeches ensued broken up by some poetry and performance by a boy-band. The age profile of the demo was predominantly the over 50s with a few families hanging around. Slavic features were conspicuous by their absence in the crowd.

Maybe if the organisers want to get their message to a wider audience, instead of speechifying from the stage they should try some new approaches. How about a rap competition in Kazkah or a poetry slam to appeal to young people? Piles of Kazakh language newspapers were scattered about for people to take home but what about some DVDs or books for kids – the next generation which can ensure the survival of Kazakh.

Refreshments were also absent from the proceedings – another missed opportunity – the crowd could have been fed with baursaki – fried dough balls – swilled down with kymys – fermented mares’ milk – provided it was ordered in Kazakh!