Kazakhstan has used a variety of means to promote itself as a model of economic development and social progress, such as chairing the OSCE in 2010, hosting Expo 2017 and bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Another, less high-profile but important means of image crafting is connected with religion.
Aiming to reinforce the idea that Kazakhstan is a place where a wide variety of ethnic groups live in harmony, Kazakhstan has hosted the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. Initiated in 2003 by Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the congress has convened in the Kazakhstani capital Astana every three years since its founding.
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Sebastien Peyrouse is a research professor at George Washington University in Washington, DC. He is affiliated with the Central Asia Program at the Elliott School of International Affairs.