30 september 2020

Central Asia news

The Capital of Kazakhstan Prepares to its Birthday

30.06.2008 12:39 msk

Ali Myrzabek (Astana)


As Ferghana.ru previously reported, on July 6, 2008 the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, will present an international gala to celebrate its birthday. Authorities began preparations in the beginning of the year by inviting foreign guests, including important personalities and statesmen including Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, Athens mayor Nikita Kaklomanis, Brasilia mayor Joze Roberto and Ankara mayor Melih Gokcek. As promised, the city is also preparing “unique projects” as part of the birthday festivities. Meanwhile, local citizens have been seen leaving the capital prior to the celebrations following bitter experience from past years that such holidays are not for ordinary citizens.

One resident, named Serik, noted that residents of Astana are trying to find another place to spend a few days, rather than staying in the capital, because the city is expected to become a sort of “ant hill” as the capital fills with guests and people from throughout Kazakhstan. The crowds will also come because of the creation of the July 6 national holiday, Capital’s Day. However, Gani Kasymov, the head of the Patriots Party of Kazakhstan has noted there is no such similar practice in the world when celebrating a capital’s founding coincides with a state leader’s birthday. By doing this, many fear, Kazakhstan has created an unprecedented tradition that could become part of a cult of personality?

Urban romantic
Urban romantic. Photo by Astana10.com

Further, instead of changing Astana’s name to Nursultan, the first name of the country’s president, President Nazarbaev chose to give a present to Astana with the creations of a city emblem and its own flag.

Plans for the celebration include a concert entitled “With love to Astana”, a concert of instrumental music named “The River of Sound”, fireworks staged in front of the Congress Hall, the “Operalia-2008” International music festival, a concert of Turkic music called “Astana-Ardau”, a song contest entitled “Astana Jyldyzy”, a tennis tournament and other vents.

Also, a special meeting will be held in the newly built Independence Hall.

However, the goals of the event appear, simply, to create an extravaganza to impress and promote personalities, more than anything else. Indeed, the official website of the tenth anniversary described the goals of the celebration as “positioning of President Nazarbaev as a leader of a global scale”, “strengthening of Kazakhstan’s positions in the world”, “acknowledging the expediency of the transferring of the capital”; “strengthening of Astana’s capital image in people’s perception”, and “to make the capital sacred”.

Sights of Astana
Sights of the capital. The Peace and Harmony Palace – “The Pyramid”. Photo by Ali Myrzabek

Experts predict that following the July 6 celebration, the citizens of Kazakhstan will face tremendous increases in prices for basic goods. Such an increase is seen as the way authorities are going to reimburse the state for the millions of dollars spent on the celebration. As a result, people are frightened as they begin the holiday and have begun stocking up on flour, salt, sugar and other food staples. At the same time, citizens look on as expenses for the many guests in Astana are being provided by authorities using funds from the state budget.

Ali Myrzabek (Astana)