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Same Old Refrain For Beleaguered Kazakh National Anthem

President Nursultan Nazarbaev and members of the government and parliamentarians listen to the Kazakh national anthem before the opening of the first session of the newly elected parliament in Astana in January 2012.
What is it about Kazakhstan's national anthem that invites so much trouble?

"My Kazakhstan" is a touching tribute to a "valiant people" who "scored a victory of glory and success."

But it's also gaining dubious fame, with sporting-event organizers -- at home and abroad -- repeatedly embarrassing themselves and Kazakh officials by mixing it up with other songs.

In 2011, officials at the world weightlifting championships in Paris apologized after playing a former Kazakh anthem.

Then, last year, organizers of a local ski festival in Kazakhstan itself mistakenly played Ricky Martin's "Livin' la Vida Loca" instead of the anthem.

More recently, at the Grand Prix shooting championship in Kuwait in March, event officials played a mock anthem from the film "Borat" with a Kazakh winner on the podium.

Now Russian and Kazakh news agencies report that the former anthem struck again on January 12, before the Saryarqa hockey club from the Kazakh city of Qaraghandy faced off against a local team in Tver, Russia.

Kazakh team members listened dutifully to the anthem with their right hands on their chests.

The match organizers in Tver eventually apologized to the visiting team and agreed to pay an undisclosed fine.

But at least the Kazakhs had the last laugh, winning the match 3-1.

-- Andy Heil

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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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