Kazakh free press is being censored into oblivion, but was it ever really free to begin with?

So, last week a court in Kazakhstan banned Stan.tv from operating on the charge of extremism — and in a few weeks, Astana shall ascend to the UN Human Rights Council. There’s a full-on censorhip tsunami sweeping the country, taking out news agencies, websites, broadcasters, political parties and even the US Peace Corps, and one way or another, it seems the epicentre of the earthquake is in the 2011 Zhanoazen riots. Of course, I don’t want to diminish the huge concern the world should have about this situation, but at the same time, I don’t want us captured by illusion…

Invitation to Central Asian artists from the 55th Venice Biennale

The Central Asian Pavilion at the the 55th Venice Biennale (La Biennale di Venezia), curators Ayatgali Tuleubek and Tiago Bom would like to invite artists to submit proposals of works to be hosted at the exhibition. La Biennale di Venezia has for over a century been one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world. Ever since its foundation, it has been at the forefront in the research and promotion of new artistic trends. The 55th Venice Biennale will take place from June to November 2013. The exhibition’s working title “Winter” is inspired by Abay’s poem. This project aims…

Borat’s double-edged sword: Flourishing tourism versus cultural representation

They say that negative attention is better than no attention at all. This tagline has been well linked to the comedic and controversial movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Borat), which enlightens the audience on the culture of Kazakhstan (among other things), for a long time. But, in terms of tourism in 2012, the tables are beginning to turn – some negative attention is turning positive, in terms of plane tickets and passports. Borat is the infamous movie/ mocumentary/ satire/ comedy wherein Sacha Baron Cohen plays the character of Borat (BORДT) Sagdiyev, a “sexist,…

Ambassador Idrissov’s intriguing geo-conceptual question

The Kazakh foreign ministry circled their caravans in Washington, DC early last week to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence. The Atlantic Council pounced on the opportunity by hosting the symposium “Twenty Years of Kazakhstan Independence and US-Kazakhstan Relations” in a ritzy ballroom. Keynote speakers included Lt. General Scowcroft, Senator Chuck Hagel, Asst. Secretary of State Robert Blake and a small fleet from Kazakh’s foreign ministry. Amongst all these familiar faces, the ambiance was warm, with frequent smiles and winks beaming from the red-faced Ambassador Idrissov towards the elevated stage of panelists. On-stage anecdotes were carefully tossed from seat-to-seat coupled…

Uzbek slavery in Kazakhstan

Translator’s Note: Translated from Jamil’s post (RUS). On March 14, 2011, Mukhiddin Khojimuradov suggested to his compatriots Khairulla and Sunatullo Yuldashevs from Chinaz region of Tashkent oblast that they move to Kazakhstan’s city of Turkestan, where they could earn decent money. When the four young men reached the place, the only job they were offered was at the car washing station; their employer refused to pay for their labor, reports the Initiative group of independent rights activists of Uzbekistan (IGIRAU). They never signed contracts and their passports had been taken away; they had effectively become slaves, who were constantly beaten…

The Aral Sea Disaster: Told By People Of Karakalpakstan, Yet Facing A Denial

“The water that serveth all that country is drawn by ditches out of the River Oxus, into the great destruction of the said river, for which it cause it falleth not into the Caspian Sea as it hath done in times past, and in short time all that land is like to be destroyed, and to become a wilderness for want of water, when the river of Oxus shall fail.” Anthony Jenkinson, 1558 Sometimes I think that people of Uzbekistan with a 28 million population know less about one of the greatest catastrophe in their own country than people worldwide.…

Kazaks read Steve Jobs’ biography

The story of the life of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is for sale in Kazakhstan. Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson, is Amazon’s top grossing book of the year – in both “print and Kindle editions combined” said The News. The book went on sale on October 24th, less than 3 weeks after Jobs’ death, and Business Press Network said that “In less than 2 months on the market, the book had become the online retailer’s best selling title of 2011.” About this biography being sold in Kazakhstan, on December 15th, Central Asian News said: “About 40 copies of the…

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