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Voices from Kazakhstan

Almaty

Welcome to our first roundup of blog posts and online discussions that took place in the Kazakh blogosphere recently.

On a World Refugee Day, 20 June, I overviewed the situation with the refugees in Kazakhstan on Neweurasia. Using the data of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Kazakhstan and media reports, I state that there is no good example of handling the refugees in the region, and the countries tend to cooperate when they see the refugees as a threat to their security. This is the case with Uighurs from China and Uzbeks who fled their country after Andijan.

Adam Kesher was critical about draft media law, which, since then, has been adopted by the Kazakh senate and is currently awaiting the President’ approval. Adam says there is a conflict between Dariga Nazarbayeva, the President's daughter and the initiator of the draft law Ertysbaev, which is also a conflict within the Family. Even the broadcasting of the World Cup was an issue in the conflict, according to Adam. He offers a hypothesis that the law was rushed through in order to manage before autumn, when the President visits the US, or before the start of trial of James Giffen, a US citizen who was a former adviser of Nazarbayev and stands accused of bribing Kazakhstani officials.

In what seems to be an answer to Adam's criticism, Dmitry points out (RUS) the advantage of media law - making media outlets provide the true information about their curculation. Statistics, in Dmitry's opinion, is important for investors and advertisers. He concludes saying that freedom of speech is sometimes abused by journalists in Kazakhstan, and this law would be a necessary limit on it. An English translation of the article – here.

Another post related to media in Kazakhstan is featured by ab77 , who writes for the Dumaem.ru, analytical online project. In his “Information Desert – Are We Interesting to our Neighbors?” post in the KZ_Politica Livejournal community, the author says that since Kazakhstan has so many Russian TV channels, people tend to know a lot about Russia. 75% of Kazakhstanis use the sites in .ru domain, and only 25% regularly visit local sites in .kz zone. The situation is not proportionate though – many people in Russia know about Kazakhstan as much as they know about any provincial city behind Ural. Kazakhstan, according to him, does not have positive image in the eyes of Russian businessmen. The 10 most popular words Russians associate with Kazakhstan: Baikonur, Nazarbayev, oil, steppe, drugs, Alma-Ata, Astana, Caspian sea, virgin lands, Semipalatinsk. Neweurasia now features the full article here (RUS).

LJ user tropical_rat posts some excellent photos from the celebration of the 10th anniversary of Astana in Astana's online community, that included wrestling on horses; Baitadar, a mock battle in traditional nomad outfits, kokpar, kyz kuu, and other traditional sport activities.

Tour de France 2006 reports that Vinokurov and his Astana Würth team were cleared of suspicions of doping made by Spanish media.

On the Russian version of Neweurasia Kazakhstan, I discussed an article about Almaty featured in the New York Times, in which Ilan Greenberg writes about oil industry development, contruction boom ,and change of lifestyle in Kazakhstan. I add that this has an effect on culture – growing materialism which translates to expensive houses and luxurious cars and creates a backlash amongst youth as can be seen in this anti-glamour LiveJournal community that organizes parties in anti-glamour style. On the English language Neweurasia Kazakhstan blog, Ben Paarmann discussed the topic too, looking at it from the economic point of view. Almaty and Astana may be booming, and oil accounts for 16-17% of GDP, says Ben, but the rest of the country is still struggling with poverty and high uneployment rate.

Residents of Astana discuss (RUS) the aftermath of the fire in a government building. Apparently, all the smoking places were closed in the Ministry of Finance, and the presence of fire extinguishes was checked on the central market.

In Almaty, ryba_barrakuda reports (RUS) to the Almaty community that a monument to Beatles will be built by artist Kazaryan.

At Neweurasia, we review (RUS) the English-language blogs that mention Kazakhstan. It's all about Kazakh modern art , media law, toxic waste spill in Caspian sea, and relations between Kazakhstan and Georgia after Russia's allegedly political ban on Georgian wines.

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