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Post-Borat, Pre-OSCE: Kazakhstan's PR Blitz

Moving on
Moving on
The Kazakh leadership is clearly very serious about its chairmanship of the OSCE in 2010.

Since the decision to let the country chair the organization was made a year ago in Vienna, the Kazakh government has invested bucket loads of dollars in PR campaigns, trying to position Kazakhstan as a democratically oriented country. And perhaps trying to undo some of the "damage" done by Borat.

There've been numerous interviews in the Western press with Kazakh officials and international businessmen -- many of them labeled as "advertisements," presumably paid for by the Kazakh government -- talking about Kazakhstan's "achievements," especially its economic reforms. CNN has been carrying ads about Kazakhstan for years.

This week, Reuters issued a video interview with the Kazakh prime minister, produced by the Kazakh government, on his country's "readiness to stand the global economic crisis." (Sorry, the transcript or video doesn't seem to be available right now.)

Meanwhile, beyond the PR, just last week a Kazakh independent journalist had to hide in the U.S. Embassy's office in Almaty asking for political asylum after being pursued by Kazakh National Security officers. And two prominent Kazakh opposition leaders died in dubious circumstances in November 2005 and February 2006.

It's just a shame the Kazakh taxpayer has to foot the bill for all the positive spin.

-- Merkhat Sharipzhanov

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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

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