Central Asian Dispatches

Central Asian Dispatches - Moscow expat Life

Musical Kirghiz president simultaneously announces constitutional referendum and the release of his first music album.

President Almazbek Atambayev leader of the beautiful Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan, famous for its rugged, mountainous landscape, has announced two unusual moves for a Central Asian president.  One, that he is calling for a referendum that will reduce presidential powers and two, that after retirement, he will go into the music industry by releasing an album of ten songs.  The songs are acoustic ballads about the difficult times he has seen in his country. Some will be in Russian and some in Kirgiz, the two main languages spoken in the remote country. Atambayev has repeatedly said he will not pursue another political position after his term runs out in 2017, according to Newsweek Europe. He made his dramatic announcement in Cholpan Ata a small resort situated next to Lake Issik-Kul, the second highest and also second largest saline lake in the world.

Expo 17 City of the Future Rises in Kazakhstan

Expo City 2017, designed by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG), is fast rising among the already glittering, ultra modern capital of Kazakhstan, Astana. The Expo’s theme is alternative energy and therefore energy for the futuristic city will come from solar panels and wind turbines controlled by a smart grid.

Despite being a country with huge oil and gas reserves Kazakhstan is proudly looking to the future and using Expo 17 as an example of what can be achieved when the World takes the necessary steps to seriously start implementing alternative energy technology. Ninety-four countries have officially stated they will take part in the Expo which is being held in Central Asia for the first time. Tickets can be bought on-line and 5,000 were sold in the first 20 days of sales.

Terror Descends on Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan was recently subjected to two terror attacks, although thankfully not on the scale seen in other parts of the World. The circumstances surrounding the ‘terror attacks’ in the Kazakh cities of Aktobe and Almaty still remain unclear. The first attack took place in the Northern city of Aktobe. A large group of gun wielding men disembarked from a coach and attacked a local hunting shop killing a sales clerk and a security guard. Shortly after, a gun fight between the attackers and the security forces ensued.

In Almaty what appears to be a lone gunman attacked a police station with an automatic rifle killing 3 policemen. Horrific pictures of the slain officers lying in the streets were quickly circulating on the internet. A code red terror alert was put in force and the citizens were told to stay inside of their homes and offices. In all, four people were killed: the three policemen and a woman who was known to the attacker. Ominously later in the evening a huge black cloud descended on the city which unleashed one of the worst downpours the city has ever seen. Yet, it wasn’t enough to wash away all the blood of the slain or the tears of their families.

The country’s Special Forces conducted a broad ranging anti-terror operation in Almaty later in July but no word on any other suspects was offered. An anti-terrorist drill was also carried out in Astana on August 5th. Following the attacks, Kazakhstan authorities have boosted security across the country – especially in areas such as airports and train stations. Obviously, safety and security are uppermost in the minds of the organizers of Expo-2017 in Astana.

The authorities reported that the gunman was an Islamist terrorist apparently working alone. Kazakhstan is a multiethnic, secular country with a huge number of different ethnicities residing on its territory. Of these the Kazakhs comprise the majority with ethnic Russians being the next largest group. Other groups include, Germans, Koreans, Chechens, Uyghurs, Uzbeks, Kirghiz and many more. Despite this until now religious extremism and inter-ethnic violence has been almost nonexistent.