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Kazakhstan’s Great Façade

Alexey Tikhonov, the Moscow correspondent for the Kazakhstani newspaper Respublika, opens his speech with a harrowing description of the Zhanaozen massacre, when Kazakhstani military police killed 70 striking oil workers. Tikhonov describes Nursultan Nazarbayev’s rise to power in post-Soviet Kazakhstan, reaching its absurd climax when the president declared himself “father of the nation.” Tikhonov partly ascribes Nazarbayev’s hold on power to the country’s vast oil reserves; Western countries have been willing to overlook Nazarbayev’s authoritarian rule in favor of trade. Tikhonov concludes by revealing how Nazarbayev has co opted prominent Western leaders,such as British former Prime Minister Tony Blair, in his attempts to promote Kazakhstan.

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