A Moment of Truth(?)

by David Walther on 12/21/2005 · 4 comments

I know there are a lot of serious things being discussed right now and important things are happening in Central Asia, but this was a little gem I came across buried in the bottom of a Russian article on Fergana.ru.

A few days ago, Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiev held a conference with several political youth organizations in Bishkek, and though the young men and women in attendance seemed to be disappointed with his answers and the fact that, just like with our president, no one seems to be able to get in any follow up questions, this did happen (translation is mine):

“…the most interesting question came from a correspondent from Azattyk Radio, who asked, “whether the president personally gives or takes bribes, whether he loves to lie, and why he married a Russian girl, Tatyana?”

The president answered that he didn’t pay bribes, but did sometimes ‘end up’ taking them: “Of course, it was in a different form then, not like they do now, selling positions and things like that. For us [in our day, whenver that was] it was more like a little lamb here, a little vodka there, some horsemilk and no more. I won’t deny it, now and then you’ve got to lie too, but usually for a good purpose. And as far as Tatyana Bakieva goes, what I liked about her first was her very long hair that came right down to her knees—well, and her figure, of course…” the president ended, smiling enigmatically.”

I think it might just be me, but there is something eerily familiar about this whole scenario. Maybe it was just the people complaining about not being able to challenge the president or ask any followup questions, or maybe it was that Kyrgyzstan somehow reminds me of Texas. I may be totally alone on both of those. Not that we are allowed to ask questions like that of certain persons from Texas, but it just seems like his answer might be similar. Are we not so different after all?

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– author of 7 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Dave has lived in Tashkent for two years, and has no idea when he will be able to leave...

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CXW December 22, 2005 at 3:22 am

Yes… it was supposed to be a meeting about the views of youth on the thorny issue of constitutional reform. Still, never mind – Bakiev’s taste in women is more interesting, less controversial, and makes for better press (excuse the sarcasm).

One person I spoke to recently who was at the meeting said on the one hand s/he’d [sorry, confidentiality] been pleasantly surprised by how open Bakiev had been, especially in comparison to how Akaev had been. On the other hand, s/he felt there was a feeling that political questions – including constitutional reform – should be left to the experts and “ordinary” people shouldn’t worry themselves about it too much. One is left wondering what the hell the point of having a “national discusion” on constitutional reform was then (shades of both New Labour’s Big Conversation and Akaev’s constant yurt references as a metaphor for inclusiveness spring to mind – another political similarity, perhaps?)

The main complaint about the media coverage was that they ignored some of the more tricky questions that people did actually ask in favour of the personal stuff David picked up on. And in that respect the media here is still giving Bakiev an easy ride for the time being – considering that he is still not showing himself to be particularly media savvy at the moment, he’s been very fortunate…

Brian December 22, 2005 at 10:14 am

Foregoing intelligent questions in favor of sensational personal scandal? Sounds almost like the American cable news media… they just need to follow it with an hour-long car chase.

David Walther December 22, 2005 at 10:19 am

One word: Pundits. Then the car chase would come up as one of this “screen-in-screen” thing and quash even all semi-meaningful dialogue.

Brian December 22, 2005 at 4:06 pm

Yeah and they’d fill it with hours of important things such as debating whether saying Happy Holidays is destroying Christmas… or I guess in the Kyrgyz case whether Happy Navruz should be replaced with Merry Vernal Equinox!

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