Kazakhstan: Big city lights, gerontocracy and Photoshop

Kazakhstan’s bloggers continue to monitor the state’s traditionally non-transparent politics and comment on the news. Among their concerns is the government’s announcement that due to the economic crisis, wage increases for state employees, pensioners and students on stipend, scheduled for the beginning of 2010, would have to be postponed for six months. However, these difficulties will not affect the country’s new capital, which President Nazarbaev considers his personal project.

Thousand-pa writes [ru]:

Only yesterday, the country was roused by the news that the budget was tightening. Today, the President is lamenting that, “The city’s architects are slow in coming up with ideas. Nothing has been submitted to us recently.” Translation for ordinary people: when it comes to wages, there’s no money; when it comes to the beloved toy, there’s plenty.

The country’s attitude towards the capital is ambivalent. In official propaganda, it is regarded as a symbol of the republic’s flourishing. Among themselves, people grumble about it – billions of dollars spent on bizarre architectural experiments like the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation or the Khan Shatyry Entertainment Center, while problems with potable water and electricity persist. However, a decade of massive investment could not have gone without results, and the city is beginning to acquire a “human” feel.

Pari-from-kz writes [ru]:

Astana is a small, clean, cozy, quiet city. Most people you meet on the street are young, as are the majority of government employees. You’ll find many well-dressed girls.

Wind sweeps through the Left Bank. For whom was this downtown built? It’s a pity there are no people here. Then again, what people are we talking about, if the population of the country is only 16 million?

I expected things to be worse. It’s mainly things like internet speed, mobile phone rates that get on my nerves.

All big politics is now done in Astana, but, unlike the super-modern cityscape in which this process takes place, the methods of government are increasingly reminiscent of soviet gerontocratic stagnation. Alim-atenbek writes on this topic:

We can compare the current period in Kazakhstan to the 1970s: Brezhnev, Awards, Nomenklatura, The Party, Dissidents, The Baikal-Amur Mainline…

As does pari-from-kz [ru]:

Our fears are becoming justified – we are quickly approaching the image of Turkmenbashi. We now have schools, universities, science institutes and three national libraries that bear the name of the president. But the grandiose event happened two days ago, when he was officially immortalized in bronze.

While bloggers from other countries are discussing what wristwatch brands their presidents prefer, pycm remembers the story about the president’s ring in Kazakhstan [ru]:

I remember one time The Boss came to Karaganda, visited a housewarming party, gave a TV to a family of state employees, etc. The press corps posted a picture on the official site, where the President has a giant “bolt” on his finger. The electorate, of course, started to grumble on the internet, saying that Turkmenbashi himself would be jealous of such a rare jewel. An hour later the ring was photoshopped out.

Translated by Andrey on neweurasia.net

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