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Kazakh President Mansplains How To Treat The Ladies

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev (center) made his remarks at a gathering of women assembled for International Women's Day on March 7. (file photo)
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev (center) made his remarks at a gathering of women assembled for International Women's Day on March 7. (file photo)

"If she is beautiful, tell her she is intelligent. If she doesn't look good, tell her she is beautiful. If she is neither, then tell her she's lost weight."

That's the advice given by Nursultan Nazarbaev, Kazakhstan's longstanding leader, during an event marking International Women's Day on March 8 at the Akorda presidential palace.

Addressing a gathering of women assembled for the occasion, Nazarbaev explained that compliments are key to getting a woman to like you, while noting that he is always teaching Kazakh men the arts of flattery and chivalry in dealing with the ladies.

Nevertheless, he joked about his fellow man, they still "don't know how to behave."

The audience included women from all walks of life -- from start-up entrepreneurs to housewives, to teachers, doctors, athletes, and lawmakers.

Later in the day, the president shared more poignant comments relating to his relationship with women on social media, posting a 2001 video in which he paid tribute to his late mother.

He said he regretted not having been able to spend as much time as he wanted with his mother, who died in 1977 as her son was rising through the official ranks, and that he had dreamt about her while making crucial life decisions.

"I'm not a mystic, neither do I believe in sorcerers, psychics, or astrologists," he said in the video. "But it has really happened that I dreamt about her and she told me: 'Rest assured, everything will be fine.'"

Tons Of Flowers

Kazakhstan annually marks International Women's Day with official meetings and gatherings, special TV programs, and also as a private family event.

Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, imported a record 8.6 tons of flowers ahead of the event this year, nearly three times the city's monthly average.

The figure showed that Kazakhs take Women's Day very seriously, local media said. And based on readers' comments on articles about Nazarbaev's salutations, it appeared that some were taking his advice on dealing with women to heart.

"Good advice, men should follow it," wrote one reader of Tengrinews.

A commenter identified as Erlan, however, seemed to take umbrage with the president's comments, writing that "In my opinion, all Kazakh women are intelligent and beautiful. They don't have to lose weight."

Another paid tribute to Kazakh women who "raise their children without help from the government, have to create jobs for themselves, pay taxes, and retire at 63."

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    Farangis Najibullah

    Farangis Najibullah is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL who has reported on a wide range of topics from Central Asia, including the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the region. She has extensively covered efforts by Central Asian states to repatriate and reintegrate their citizens who joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

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