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Kazakh Students Protest 'Personality Cult'

President Nursultan Nazarbaev
A group of students held a protest in Almaty today to demand an end to the growing personality cult of President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

One protester, Muhammet Ziadin, told RFE/RL's Kazakh Service that the purpose of the demonstration was to challenge the practice of pouring praise on Kazakh leaders.

He said all the officials in the country are competing with each other in their attempts to compliment the president. The protesters had helium-filled balloons with the names of Kazakh officials on them and let them go into the sky, saying that the "masters of adulation should leave Kazakhstan like the balloons."

The protest was held in front of the offices of the presidential Nur-Otan party. Police did not interfere.

It comes after the Kazakh Service reported last week that cartoonists in the southern Kazakh city of Shymkent have created a humorous animated movie that stars President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

The 20-minute government-backed cartoon shows the Kazakh leader and other top officials in Kazakhstan in a story about an exhibition of international goods in Beijing.

Daken Isembekov, an Almaty-based actor, did the voice for Nazarbaev in the cartoon, which is reportedly very similar to the Kazakh president's.

Animator Sagat Nurgaliev says he has spent many days studying Nazarbaev's body language in order to recreate him in the cartoon. The cartoon will be shown soon in Shymkent. This, it appears, is the first case of Nazarbaev appearing in an animated movie.

-- Kazakh Service

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