Accessibility links

Breaking News

Kazakh Leader’s Tumar 'Brings Obama Victory'

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev gives his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama the special gift in a frame.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev gives his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama the special gift in a frame.
In a society where almost every success of the state is ascribed to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, it's perhaps no surprise that someone thought to give him credit for playing a role in the reelection of U.S. President Barack Obama.

"Aikyn," one of Kazakhstan’s main newspapers, published an article on November 8 claiming that Obama had won a second term in office thanks to a "tumar," an amulet he was given by Nazarbaev earlier this year.

However, Nazarbaev gave Obama a larger decorative version of the traditional Kazakh amulet -- a small leather pouch containing prayers from the Koran -- in Seoul in March at a nuclear-security summit. Traditionally worn around the neck, a tumar is usually given to newborns.

As Kazakhstan’s national news agency, Kazinform, reported back in March, in presenting Obama with the framed tumar Nazarbaev reportedly told the U.S. president it was "for good luck."

"Aikyn’s" straightforward news report is consistent in reiterating the connection between the powers of the amulet and Obama’s reelection. After a few sentences about the number of electoral votes Obama received, the tone of the article takes a turn into a whole other realm.
In other words, all forecasters turned out to be right. At this point we have to remember that in March this year, President Nazarbaev met with Barack Obama...Nazarbaev gave Obama a Kazakh tumar as a gift so that he could win in a landslide victory in the presidential elections. The Kazakh leader's special gift brought victory to Obama.

Perhaps the newspaper was inspired by comments that began emerging online soon after Obama’s victory was announced, when users began poking fun at Nazarbaev’s success in reelecting Obama.

One Facebook user in Kazakhstan posted the following post on the social-media site: “They say Mitt Romney sees Nazarbaev’s tumar as the main reason for Obama’s victory.”

The comments started rolling in soon after.

“Oops! Now it turns out that Obama was reelected thanks to our Leader of the Nation’s long-sighted policy,” one wrote.

“After Obama’s victory some leaders of the democratic regimes have made quite a long queue in order to get a tumar from Nazarbaev,” another added.

-- Deana Kjuka & Galym Bokash

About This Blog

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

Latest Posts