Astana celebrated its 15th anniversary as Kazakhstan’s capital with a lavish bash designed to cement the legacy of President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The country marked Astana Day as a national holiday on July 6, which is also Nazarbayev’s birthday (he turned 73 this year). There is heavy symbolism in celebrating the anniversary of Nazarbayev’s brainchild on the day he was born.
Back in the 1990s, the president generated a hefty amount of astonishment and skepticism when he ordered the capital moved 1,200 kilometers north from Almaty to what was then a dusty and rundown city called Akmola. Since then, the renamed Astana has been transformed beyond recognition, featuring shimmering skyscrapers and grandiose civic structures.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.