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