Tag Archives: Sting

GooGoosha’s Uzbek Pussy Riot Moment?

9 Aug

While western rock stars have been queueing up to come out in support of Russian punk collective Pussy Riot, Uzbekistan’s diva supreme, Gulnara Karimova, or GooGoosha to her fans, has allegedly come out in support of a cause close to her heart  – money laundering.

Sketchy reports are coming in from Uzbekistan – the land of smoke and mirrors,  that GooGoosha, the eldest daughter of Uzbek president Islam Karimov, was behind a recent protest in Tashkent that targetted the Swiss consulate after two Coca-Cola Uzbekistan executives were arrested in Switzerland for alleged money laundering.

Madonna comes out in support of Pussy Riot

It’s possible that GooGoosha was motivated by musicians such as Sting and Madonna coming out in support of Pussy Riot, currently on trial for insulting Orthodox Christians and getting up Putin’s nose. But it seems she didn’t follow in Madonna’s steps as there were no reports of GooGoosha donning a balaclava.

It was just as well that GooGoosha’s protest was held on a Saturday, when the consulate was closed, as the Tashkent rumour mill hinted that there were plans to invade the building and smother the consulate’s cuckoo clocks in a mixture of fondue and melted chocolate, which would have caused havoc for the time-conscious Swiss.

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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?

Sting Proves Astana Party Pooper

4 Jul

It looks like  Sting has taken Kazaxia’s advice, as the veteran British rocker pulled out of his planned concert in Astana, Kazakhstan amid concerns over human rights abuses in the country. He came under pressure from Amnesty International to cancel his show scheduled for 4 July because of the

repression and crackdown against oil workers, their union leaders, their legal representatives and of the human rights NGOs working with them

Sting got into trouble for playing a concert in Uzbekistan for Gulnara Karimova in 2009. Now he seems to have rediscovered his conscience and is once again positioning himself as the great human rights defender.

Earlier in the tour a date in Minsk, Belarus was cancelled, allegedly because of concerns over the economic situation in the country. Surely Lukashenko’s regime is much worse that the relatively benign one in Kazakhstan so it’s strange that Astana is taking the flak over its human rights’ record, whereas Belarus escaped criticism from Amnesty International.

The gig was to have been a central plank of the celebrations for the anniversary of the day Astana became Kazakhstan’s capital, 6 July, which also happens to be the birthday of Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The Leader of the Nation is likely to be not very amused at this latest turn of events and heads could well roll in Astana. His birthday treats have a tendency to fall flat – in 2008 the birthday boy looked on stony-faced as a somewhat tired and emotional looking  Whitney Houston stumbled around the stage.

Sting hits Kazakhstan

2 Jul

Sting will be returning to Central Asia for a concert on 4July in Astana for the first time since he was stung by a fierce UK press reaction following his concert for Gulnara Karimova in Uzbekistan in 2009.

The concert is part of the ageing rocker’s world tour, called Symphonicity and is timed to coincide with the ongoing celebrations for President Nazarbayev’s birhtday, sorry I meant the anniversary of Astana becoming the capital of Kazakhstan on 6 July.

In honour of the occasion, Kazaxia has penned a little ditty to be sung to the tune of that old Police standard, Roxanne.

‘Oh Sting, you don’t have to play for dictators,
your money’s made now, you’re a billionaire,

Oh Sting, why you wanna sing for dictators,
those days are over, why should you care?’