Asshole Of The Week- Nursultan Nazarbaayev
Westerners probably know Kazakhastan as Borat's homeland (some dumber Americans probably don’t even think it’s a real place), but if you lived in Kazakhastan you’d know it as the place you’d like to get the hell out of. Kazakhastan’s problems can mainly be laid at the feet of our Asshole of the Week, Nursultan Nazarbaayev, who is as evil as his name is unpronounceable.
Nazarbaayev (whose friends, if he has any, probably call him by a nickname) has been in charge of Kazakhastan since the fall of the USSR. Known for suppressing all political opposition and sanctioning the torture of his citizens, he’s retained his international standing using the tested technique of having a shit ton of oil. A Google image search reveals pictures of Nazarbaayev shaking hands with such varied folks as the Pope, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Condoleeza Rice and Obama.
Wednesday was his 71st birthday. To mark the occasion, he had a giant cake made with candles from the body fat of executed dissidents. Just kidding, he probably eats healthy these days just like everyone else. What he actually did was order the creation of an illustrated book called Leader of the Nation Nursultan, which shows Nazarbaayev performing fairy tale-esque feats of international diplomacy, like Goldilocks but with more strategic arms limitations talks. The author of the book said, presumably at gunpoint, that it would make politics more accessible to children. Or at least the children who missed the cinematic and theatrical adaptations of the glorious leader’s life, which probably attempted to make his corrupt climb through the Communist Party ranks somehow heroic.
Kazakhstan was rated 105th out of 178 countries in a 2010 corruption survey by Transparency International, putting it alongside such beacons of probity as Senegal and Algeria. This was a step up, however, from its 120th slot in the 2009 survey, despite the Nazarbaayev family’s continuing role in running the country and reports that he’s become a billionaire from siphoning off oil profits.
To be fair, the guy’s approval ratings are normally through the roof, but in a country where the press is regularly intimidated and attacked, it’s hard to trust anything that comes out of the media.
Nazarbaayev is this week’s asshole not for his autocratic rule or his ham-fisted attempts to establish a cult of personality around himself, since those hardly distinguish him from a field of asshole heads of state like Kim Jong Il and Vladimir Putin. No, Nazarbaayev is our subject today because for such a shitty, shitty person, he doesn’t get insulted nearly enough.