Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Doing Away With the Veneer

December 3rd, 2009 · 8 Comments

Most authoritarians these days know better than to go the Papa Doc Duvalier route and declare themselves president-for-life. The occasional sham election does wonders in terms of keeping off the international heat, especially if your country is an important source of gas or bauxite.

But Nursultan Nazarbayev seems to be seriously considering bucking the trend, despite the fact that he’s already his nation’s de facto ruler until he sheds his mortal coil—there is no limit on the number of times he may stand for office, and his party holds virtually every parliamentary seat.

The question now is whether the West will do anything about such a blatant discard of democracy. Would it become an issue as Almaty makes its bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics? Or is the West simply too frightened of coming to blows with Russia to do anything about Nazarbayev’s open disdain for due process?

We’d bet Microkhan HQs on the latter. Which means it could finally be curtains for the Houbara Bustard.


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8 Comments so far ↓

  • Jordan

    Eh, at least Turkmenbashi is in the ground. Now there was some hardcore egomania.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    Oh yeah–a true throwback to the bad old days. On the plus side, though, the current regime seems to realize that Turkmenbashi was bad news–why else would they move that infamous rotating gold statue to the ‘burbs?:


    Great tidbit in that piece: “Niyazov banned lip-synching, car radios, beards, and the playing of recorded music at weddings.” Lip-synching?

  • Jordan

    I really hope there are people out there collecting as much oral history and documentation about Niyazov as possible. There’s an absolutely amazing biography waiting to be written.

    It is good to see that his successor has resisted the urge to keep it going North Korea-style. Hopefull things will start to get a bit better. I hadn’t heard about closing hospitals outside the city. That’s just pure evil. Getting rid of village libraries wasn’t great either, but not quite as shocking from a megalomaniacal authoritarian leader perspective.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    In my fondest dreams, Kapuściński would still be with us, and would be all over that book.

  • jackal

    I wonder if Niyazov’s book is still the .. curriculum.. in Turkmen schools. (That book would certainly be an insight into the insanity that was the Turkmenbashi.. wonder if an english translation exists!)

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @jackal: Ask and ye shall receive!:


    From my cursory examination, I can only say this: the man could have used an editor.

  • jackal

    Yikes, no kidding. I’m guessing the life expectancy of Turkmenbashi Editors was not very high if they actually, edited..

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