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Kazakhstan: Astana Embraces Soft Power to Massage International Image

Visitors to the winter sports resort of Chimbulak in the Tien Shan mountain range walk past a billboard advertising Kazakhstan’s bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Almaty in June 2006. Although Kazakhstan lost that bid to Russia, the Central Asian country is currently in competition against Beijing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. (Photo: Dean C.K. Cox)

Kazakhstan is scrambling to keep its diplomatic options open amid rapidly rising Western-Russian tension. Not wanting to get dragged down by Western sanctions imposed on Russia, Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s administration is ramping up an international charm offensive.
 
And as Astana seeks to win global hearts and minds, Western specialists, including former British prime minister Tony Blair, are being enlisted to help oil the wheels of the PR machine.
 
What Astana seeks is “external legitimization,” Almaty-based analyst Aidos Sarym told EurasiaNet.org. “Let’s not forget that our ruling power is authoritarian and doesn’t need internal legitimization.”
 

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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.

Kazakhstan: Astana Embraces Soft Power to Massage International Image

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