Tag Archives: Nursultan Nazarbayev

Dariga Nazarbayeva – Queen of the Freaks

13 Dec

Whoops – President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter, Dariga, put her foot in it in a spectacular fashion on 11 December when she described disabled children as “freaks”.

Nazarbayeva suggested that teenage pregnancies could be discouraged by arranging school visits to orphanages for children with disabilities – in her strange world these “freaks”, as she refers to the unfortunate inhabitants of the orphanages, are linked to ” an unreasoned, premature sex life”.

Dariga – Queen of the Freaks?

Maybe compulsory viewing in schools of Kazakhstan’s Queen of the Freaks in action would be enough to put people off ever having kids. Dariga would be well-advised to watch Tod Browning’s 1932 classic “Freaks” to see what fate could await her if she continues to make disparaging comments about others.


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

Kazakhstan: Reality vs. Image

18 Jul

Quick now, when’s the last time you read or heard anything about Kazakhstan in the Huffington Post?

I thought so. It was the July 1 story about a Russian rocket crashing in Kazakhstan after its launch (“Russian Rocket Crashes in Kazakhstan After Launch”).

No? Then surely it was the June 30 feature on British PM David Cameron’s trip to Atyrau and Astana to drum up some business for the UK and not discuss human rights too much less it offend his hosts (“David Cameron in Kazakhstan for Trade and Human Rights Talks”).

Not that either? Then it must have been the story about Borat (remember him?) from April 23, 2012 (“Borat Still Boosting Kazakhstan Tourism”).

No matter. The point is that Kazakhstan, a country the size of Western Europe with vast reserves of oil that rose from the ashes of the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 and has been ruled forever by Nursultan Nazarbayev, is rarely featured in the Huffington Post unless it’s a negative story or some free positive PR for the authorities in Astana (“Kazakhstan:Image vs. Reality”).

(with thanks to Al Eisele, Editor-at-Large, The Hill)

Kazakhstan Slams UK Over Human Rights

1 Jul

Lord Venal, who was on the unofficial delegation tagging onto UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to Kazakhstan, reports from an Irish bar in the snazzy capital Astana that Cameron sat stony faced as Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev lectured him over Britain’s appalling  human rights record.

Citing deals with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and concerns over prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay, the Kazakh Leader of the Nation allegedly gave Cameron an uncomfortable audience.

Nazarbayev also apparently mocked the UK’s nascent democracy – Cameron was elected on a mere 36.1% of the vote, whereas Kazakhstan’s president polled 95.6%.

When asked about fictional British detective, Sherlock Holmes, the Leader sheepishly admitted to having watched a Soviet-era version of the detective’s adventures in foggy Albion.

Lord Venal was in town to drum up business for Kleptis petroleum. Having seen his lordship  partake of quite a few pints of Guinness, Kazaxia is unable to vouch for the veracity of the above comments.

Kazakhstan: Aliya Nazarbayeva Goes Green

21 May

Aliya Nazarbayeva, youngest daughter of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, is positioning herself as  Kazakhstan’s eco-warrior-in-chief  with a screening of her documentary Awakeningwhich opened the New York Eurasian Fim Festival on May 20.

The 34-minute film deals with the greening of Kazakhstan and draws heavily on her father’s “Green Bridge” initiative, a Kazakh-government led project that aims to boost green development by sharing research and ideas between developed and developing countries.

This move sees Ms Nazarbayeva branching out from the world of jewellery design, with her Alsara brand, into film production and environmental protection, but could this also be the start of a more active involvement in politics?

The Eurasian Film Festival runs until May 24 and has free screenings of films from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Bulgaria and Poland.

Kazakhstan: In Praise of the First President

1 Dec

Lord Venal has seen fit to put pen to paper as Kazakhstan prepares to celebrate the Day of the First President on 1 December, the country’s newest public holiday.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev bestrides Kazakhstan like a colossus – his image beams down from billboards on nearly every street corner. The Park of the First President is a fixture of all major towns and cities. Every evening he tops the TV news agenda meeting with dignitaries, opening factories and winning EXPO 2017 bids.

The First President awaits visitors

The First President awaits visitors

Wildly loved by his adoring public – he won 96.5 % of the vote in the last election, The Leader of the Nation, as he is also known, has worked ceaselessly over the last twenty-two years as he has steered the good ship Kazakhstan through turbulent waters to leave the country becalmed in a sea of economic prosperity and political stagnation.

He is one of the world’s longest serving presidents – only a few presidents have kept the throne warmer for longer than the glorious leader – Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson and arch-rival Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan spring to mind.


The Nazarbayev University in his fairytale capital city, Astana, proudly carries his name as do a network of Nazarbayev Intellectual schools, which have mushroomed across Kazakhstan in recent years. The day cannot be far off when Nazarbayev kindergartens, fertility clinics and dating agencies will grace the provincial capitals.

I, along with my former cell mate, Jonathan Aitken, the famed hagiographer, who is in Astana to sing the praises of the First President yet again, would like to wish the Leader many happy returns on this the anniversary of the distant day back in 1991 when he won his first election along with the hearts of the Kazakh nation. Long may he reign – Kazakhstan’s very own Superkhan!

Here Comes Central Asia’s Supergroup?

19 Oct

This clip of Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov revealing his talent on the guitar, spotted by EurasiaNet, got Kazaxia thinking about other musical  members of Central Asia’s ruling families and the supergroup they could create if they were to get together.

Uzbekistan’s royal family has its very own pop star in residence, Gulnara Karimova, or to use her stage name GooGoosha, eldest daughter of President Islam Karimov. She could duet with part-time opera diva, Dariga Nazarbayeva, daughter of Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, while Berdy strums away in the background.

It’s not clear what Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan’s ruling families could bring to the mix. Perhaps the Kyrgyz could supply the security, with their extensive recent experience of upheaval.  Maybe Tajikistan could carry the hat around the audience with all proceeds going to the Rogun dam project.


Nazarbayev’s Annus Horribilis

19 Dec

It was back in 1992 that the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II coined the phrase annus horribilis, or horrible year, to describe a year in which her family was mired in endless scandals. In the light of recent events in Kazakhkhstan will President Nursultan Nazarbayev look back on 2011 as his very own annus horribilis?

2011 was meant to be the year that Kazakhstan basked in 20 glorious years of independence, stability and prosperity following the break up of the Soviet Union. Instead it looks set to go down in history as the moment when the post-Nazarbayev era really began as a wave of Islamic-inspired terrorism swept the country and independence celebrations were marred by the deaths of 14 people in the west.

The year got off to a good start for President Nazarbayev with the residual effects of hosting the OSCE summit in December 2010 and Kazakhastan sweeping the board at the Asian Winter Games, which were held in Almaty and Astana, contributing to a feel-good mood.

In April the presidential elections saw the incumbent trounce his three opponents, taking 96.5% of the vote. Things were looking good with few clouds on the horizon.

Then May came, bringing with it two unrelated events that may well be judged the point when the Leader’s iron grip began to loosen. In Zhanaozen in the west of the country, energy sector workers went on strike over a wage dispute. Later in May a suicide bombing in Aktobe, also in western Kazakhstan, brought the spectre of Islamic-inspired terrorism to Kazakhstan for the first time.

Both these events were handled poorly by the authorities. The suicide bombing was initially dismissed as being related to a ‘Mafia Kingpin’. In subsequent months more bombings were carried out with the security forces frequently in the firing line, prompting officials to acknowledge in late August that Kazakhstan was facing a terrorism problem.

In October a group calling itself Jund al-Khilafah (Soldiers of the Caliphate) emerged, releasing a video online which threatened reprisals against Kazakhstan over a new law on religion.

Over in Zhanaozen the industrial dispute rumbled on with the striking workers eventually being dismissed. The strike got some high-profile attention when Sting pulled out of a concert in Astana, for the joint birthday celebration of the Leader and the capital, over workers’ rights.

After the workers were fired, the authorities considered the strike to be over but the strikers thought otherwise and continued to occupy the main square in Zhanaozen in peaceful protests before everything ended in violence on 16 December with 11 dead and 86 injured.

The failure of the authorities to deal adequately with these situations has highlighted flaws in the country’s leadership and serious problems at the heart of the political system in Kazakhstan, with power held tightly by a small coterie of people.

Astana seems increasingly out of touch with the prevailing mood in the country where disaffection is growing. It remains to be seen whether the main political parties will make any serious attempts to address these issues in the forthcoming election, but don’t hold your breath.

Kazakhstan has long prided itself on being a beacon of stability in this troubled region, but with cracks beginning to appear in this facade could we finally be witnessing the end of an era?

Happy Birthday Kazakhstan?

16 Dec

Kazakhstan has been celebrating its 20th anniversary of independence today. In the capital Astana, President Nursultan Nazarbayev opened the country’s answer to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris – Infinity Land.

In the commercial capital, Almaty, celebrations were more muted. There were few people on Old Square when Kazaxia went to have a look.

A fairly deserted Old Square in Almaty on Independence day

Trouble was reported in the west of the country in the town of Zhanaozen, which has seen a long-running industrial dispute this past year. Reports of deaths ranging from 5 – 500 remain unconfirmed at the time of publication of this blog.

Vote for Nur Otan!

Meanwhile, the revellers who headed to Old Square in Almaty were greeted by the Leader beaming down from a billboard urging citizens to vote for his Nur Otan party in next January’s parliamentary elections.

Kazakhstan: The People’s Hero

29 Nov

Lord Venal would like to be one of the first to congratulate President Nursultan Nazarbayev on his being nominated for the prestigious title of People’s Hero so he sent Kazaxia this despatch

The People's Hero, The First President's Park, Almaty, Kazakhstan

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate President Nazarbyev on his nomination for People’s Hero of Kazakhstan. It is not before time that Prime Minister Karim Masimov, who nominated the president for the award, has recognised President Nazarbyev for the great leader he has been to the people of Kazakhstan over the last two decades.

In just twenty short years Kazakhstan, under the guiding hand of its wise president, has gone from being an underdeveloped land of farmers and miners to the very edge of mature country status with its ongoing bid to join the Group of Grown Up Nations (GoGUN). Its recent decision to dispense with the services of the Peace Corps only highlighted its rapid development in recent years.

By nominating the president for this illustrious award the prime minister has proved once again what a staunch ally he has been to the great leader. I look forward to witnessing in person the great strides this country will take on the road of democratisation next January as it prepares to allow another party to join Nur Otan in parliament.

With the festive season almost upon us, my colleagues and I at the Centre for Reporting and Analysing Politics would like to raise a glass to President Nazarbayev. Let’s hope that this time next year we will be toasting the award of the long overdue Nobel Peace Prize for the Leader of the Nation.