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Kazakh Prime Minister's Hashtag Fail

  • Farangis Najibullah

Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov might be a longtime Twitter user, but that doesn't necessarily make him social-media savvy.

The official recently used his two Twitter accounts -- in English, and in Kazakh and Russian -- to put the call out for his thousands of followers to list their nation's biggest achievements in its 25 years of independence.

The apparent idea was to use the hashtags #25летНезависимости or #25KAZ to collect positive feedback ahead of Kazakh Independence Day, which is celebrated on December 16.

Masimov got a bit more than he bargained for from the Twitter masses, however.

The hashtags prompted a barrage of tweets revealing latent anger over corruption, the state of Kazakh democracy, the police, and the government in general.

"To deliver a healthy baby you have to pay a bribe in the maternity ward, to get a place in a kindergarten -- pay bribes again. At school? Guess what," tweeted Kairat Nyrmugambetov at @iKairat, referring to allegations of widespread bribery in schools and hospitals.

"A new factory for light-engine planes was built in Karaganda that hasn't produced a single plane in five years," wrote @AlmiriKarpykov from Almaty:

Another popular response to Masimov's initiative suggested that Kazakhstan -- whose president, Nursultan Nazarbaev, has ruled the country since 1989 -- has never had a democratic presidential election.

"We've never had a chance to elect another president!" wrote Aidos kapanov at @aidoseg from Almaty.

"We fear police more than bandits and terrorists," tweeted M. Gustav at @kasymjanym:

Twitter user @parfume_kz took the opportunity to complain that "free breakfast has been canceled for schoolchildren."

"In Kazakhstan, the government has created crony socialism, whose source of existence is legalized robbery, not collective labor," wrote @sakesha.

The initiative has generated some positive tweets, of course, although many are from the state-controlled @kazinformkz news agency and Kazakh embassies abroad.

And @kazinformkz hijacked the hashtags to highlight Kazakh athletes' achievements at the Olympic Games in Rio and to report domestic news, including Masimov's trip to an Almaty dairy farm:

-- Farangis Najibullah

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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