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Kazakhstan: Patriotism and Democracy

Written by on Tuesday, 5 January 2010
Kazakhstan, Politics and Society, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
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In the last weeks of 2009 the Kazakh bloggers’ comments were concentrated around two topics – patriotism and democracy in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

PATRIOTISM

The level of patriotism in the society keeps on provoking interest of various parties. The nationalist circles complain on prevalence of the Russian language in the media and official business. The authorities earnestly try to inculcate patriotism using controversial methods and approaches. However, the outcome of these and other initiatives is hardly visible.

Journalist dojdlivoe-leto writes from Ekibastuz, the industrial town in northern Kazakhstan [ru]:

Patriotism of our officials is astonishing. Today my colleague was summoned by vice-mayor and given a scolding. Why? For that she sang the national anthem without putting her hand on heart…

Guinea-pirate reports on the social project for schoolchildren, who are asked to write an essay about their love to Kazakhstan [ru]:

It turned out that brains of the kids are stuffed with propaganda stereotypes. Worship of Astana [the new capital of Kazakhstan, a pet project of incumbent president N. Nazarbayev] is an indispensable component of all essays. There were also numerous words of gratitude [to the regime] “for a happy childhood” and “high level of development of the country”. Gosh, children are supposed to have spotless minds and spouting imagination! Who shall we thank for such “creativity” – teachers, textbooks or TV?

Meanwhile, Kazakhstan – a home for Baikonur, the world’s most famous cosmodrome and a cradle of space flights – has recently refused from sending its cosmonaut in 2010 due to financial difficulties. A-strekoza writes about a rumor that the proposed Kazakh spaceman would probably fly – but as a Russian citizen [ru]:

He allegedly stayed in the space training camp and applied for Russian citizenship. If this is true, it will be one of the main news in 2010. For the time being, it’s a hearsay.

Isn’t this a place, where patriotism starts?

DEMOCRACY
A-strekoza also informs her readers that the law on privacy has been adopted in Kazakhstan last month [ru]:

Now the story about a castle-shaped house of a humble public official and a resonable question “Where did you get the money?” may lead to five years in jail. Congratulations, colleagues.

Megakhuimyak reflects on the political realities of Kazakhstan [ru]:

One of the peculiarities here is political impotence of the left-wing parties. They are practically impossible in Kazakhstan, because the idea of social justice is totally absent here. Nobody wants to equalize income of the richest and the poorest. Everybody wants to become one of the oppressors of proletariat.

In another post he writes about the alleged “informal rule” that regulates activity of opposition media

It looks like the rule says – opposition media must not cover more than 1 per cent of the population, i.e. cover not more than 160,000. This is why opposition would never get access to the radio or television. Our authorities are able to work only with 1 per cent of the protest mass, and they have no idea what to do even with 5 per cent of critics.

Thousand-Pa reminds about the story of Eugene Zhovtis, the most prominent Kazakhstani rights activist. He was charged with misuse of vehicle and manslaughter after he ran over a pedestrian on a highway. He was sober, driving within the speed limits, rendered material help to the victim’s family, but still was jailed for 4 years. The blogger comments on the similar case, involving son of an influential businessman, – but with totally different outcome [ru]:

And now – voila! The mysteries of Kazakh-style Themis! You can drive drunk, cause death of three persons in a car accident, flee the country with the purpose to avoid justuce – and still remain innocent.

Originally posted on Global Voices

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