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Voices from Kazakhstan

After a break in voicing the Kazakh bloggers, caused by neweurasia team doing outreach in Central Asia, we present you the newest roundup of online conversations in Kazakhstan. Several major news attracted media attention to Kazakhstan recently: the President of the country Nazarbayev visited the White House, Sasha Baron Cohen announced release of his new film “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” and Government financed Hollywood-style film “Nomad” came out on big screens.

While media paid unusual amount of attention to otherwise rarely reported on country, mostly concentrating on Kazakhstan's bid for OSCE chairmanship, “Nomad” being an answer to Borat, Nazarbayev wanting to speak to Bush about ban on Borat film in the United States, the English language-blogs writing on Kazakhstan did extensive and knowledgeable blogging on these issues: see Registan.net, Sean R. Roberts, KZblog, LJ user tropical_rat for more reading.

What did Kazakhstan Russian-language bloggers think about it? Business as usual, not much hysteria about Borat, and not much meaning into Nazarbayev's visit to Washington either. LJ user adam_kesher could not resist posting about the perception of the President's visit by American online media (RU):

Грубо говоря, у США есть две причины не раздражать Казахстан – нефть и безопасность, и две вещи, которые раздражают их самих – коррупция, сдерживающая полноценный рост, и авторитаризм, безграничность и безнаказанность которого привела уже к двум политическим убийствам.

Roughly speaking, the United States have two reasons not to annoy Kazakhstan – oil and security, and two things that annoy themselves – corruption that prevents growth, and authoriarianism, which is so unlimited and unpunished, that it led to two political murders.

More than anything, the visit is an image-boosting event, writes adam_kesher, though it is reported that Condoleeza Rice spread memo to OSCE-members’ embassies in the US on not giving in to Kazakhstan's lobbying for OSCE chairmanship.

LJ user razglaz generated yet another discussion on Borat and how people, not the state should react to him, in Kazakhstan's Livejournal community (RU). LJ user gaisa shared his idea: a Kazakh living in the US or Britain should sue Cohen saying that because of his show people starting treating him like a pedophile, homophob and anti-Semite, which caused damage to his business. Kazakh Goverment should finance the lawyer in his case. LJ user tson poses a question in 101almatinec LJ community (RU): where does freedom of speech end and political correctness begin and what happens when they collide? In response, dorovskih remembers “The People vs. Larry Flynt” film about freedom of speech and says that in his opinion all Americans do realize that Borat is an imaginable character, even if they do not know anything about Kazakhstan. The more ridiculous Borat is, the more obvious it becomes that Kazakhstan does not have any relation to his character. LJ user zmej_tugarin observes that Kazakhs never like to hear jokes about themselves.

As for “Nomad”, Kazakh bloggers did not regard the release of long-awaited film as the state's response to Borat, as it was rightly noted by several English-language blogs. Since it is the first multimillion dollar film project for Kazakhstan, it seems that everyone in the country has an opinion on it. megakhuimyak summarizes the diversity of opinions in his post into four main questions Kazakhs usually have about this film: where did the 40 million dollars go if the film looks like it costed five; why are Kazakhs played by Americans and Mexicans; the film is a dull propaganda of Nazarbayev; and – the dialogues in the film are idiotic. He answers that management did not steal more than 20% of the money, which is ok, and that inviting foreign actors was expensive but worth it as we do not have our own actors on that level; and yes, it is a propaganda and it does represent national idea, and the President is right to send his message through the film as we do need PR; and the meaning of the dialogues got all lost in translation to Russian and English.

Among other topics for blogging in the last month were blogs themselves: several bloggers who were present at the blogging conference in Almaty 13-15 September reported on it, see Leila‘s post on neweurasia for bunch of blog links covering the conference and a new blog by Askar from Regional Center for Media Support (RU). Askar's blog covers journalism in Kazakhstan, his last post reporting on a press-conference with KNB (Committee for National Security), who instructed the journalists on how to report on the course of criminal case against the Head of the Northern unit of police Kanat Toigambaev (RU).

It's worth noting other journalism related blogs: KIMEP students now create their own blogs within Frederick Emrich's course on New Information Technologies, International Journalism and Mass Communication Department, and they are all in English. This time we recommend Danna who interviewed several journalists in Almaty and wrote her analysis of journalists’ ethics, Diana Kaliyeva's review of online journalism in Kazakhstan, and Diana Kudaibergenova, who announces that she wrote an article in a student newspaper on discussion of premarital sexual relations in modern Kazakhstan.

3 comments

  • There a great number of blogs about Kazakhstan, which can really help to build a picture of what happens in the country, and how people feel about life here.
    Compared to just a year or two ago, the situation has improved.
    Quick searches on Googles blog search ( http://blogsearch.google.com/ ) or Technorati ( http://www.technorati.com/tag/Kazakhstan ) show many more blogs based in, or on Kazakhstan.
    One example is http://www.chrismerriman.com , which tends to be a more personal view of life here, whilst others take a much broader view…

  • Re. the Borat film (Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan), BBC World have just broadcast a news report on the film’s premiere in London. Check out http://www.chrismerriman.com/index.php/archives/209 for a video clip of it…

  • […] there is Sasha Baron Cohen’s Borat, which inflamed the sensibilities of Kazakhs, but was actually shot on location – with local actors speaking Romanian – in Glod […]

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