Thursday, September 28, 2006

Golden Man in DC: President Nursultan Nazarbayev Unveils the Kazakhstan Independence Statue in Washington

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Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev (right) and Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman (on left) (photo by Joshua Kucera)

In connection with the Almaty unveiling of the monument to the events of December 1986, I had noted that rumors suggested that President Nazarbayev would be unveiling a monument to Kazakhstan’s independence in Washington, DC this week. It had occurred to me that the theme of the monument (i.e. the way that Kazakhstan chose to symbolize its “independence” in Washington, DC) could be bear political symbols. Would the Kazakhs choose a theme related to the Kazakh people’s struggle against Russian colonialism like the early Kazakh nationalist Kenesary Kasymov? Or maybe a theme related to Kazakh independence from the Soviet Union, such as the December 1986 events? Instead, it seems that the Kazakhstan government decided to play things safe and chose a figure that sent no message about its relationship with Russia. Today, President Nursultan Nazarbayev unveiled in front of the Kazakhstan embassy in Washington a statue of The Golden Man, a Saka warrior (whose genetic connection to living Kazakhs could be disputed) from the 7th-8th centuries BC, whose presence on Kazakhstan’s soil is often used as a means to accent the Kazakhs’ ancient glory. When Nazarbayev visited President Putin earlier this year, he unveiled a statue of the pro-Russian Kazakh poet Abay Kunanbaev in from of the Kazakh Embassy in Moscow.
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The Abay statue in Moscow apparently cost the Kazakhstan government $1.25 million dollars. I wonder how much DC’s Golden Man set Astana back…


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