Kazakhstan, despite early position as a returned-to-the-fold Soviet satellite, relies implicitly on playing a balancing game between Moscow and Washington. For Astana’s sake, let us hope that this investigation turns out to be so much misinformation.
Astana has embarked on a campaign to shut down independent media outlets critical of the government. The government cannot ban enough newspapers and Internet domains to make its violent suppression of peaceful protests and denial of basic political freedoms acceptable.
The Kremlin is concerned enough about increasing ties to the West to feel the need to pooh-pooh Ashton’s visit. One gets the impression that Putin doth protest too much.
All of these nations would benefit from a substantial dose of freedom. The peoples of Central Asia will flourish once they are able to take charge of their respective economic and political destinies.
The real risk Astana faces to its reputation comes not from sub-standard comedic fare, but rather from this heavy-handed response. Or if you prefer: There is no better way to give parody teeth than to confirm it.
Kazakhstan stands astride Europe and Asia, reaching from the Caspian Sea to China. Firmly planted between West and East, Kazakhstan endures something of an identity crisis owing not only to its geographical location, but to its political climate as well.
When one of the former Soviet republics, even one with an uneven record like Kazakhstan, makes a bid for Western integration and recognition, we should encourage that transition.