Some of the news lately has been out of Kyrgistan, where the president has been driven out of the capital and shunned in his home town. Not far from Almaty, I once visited Bishkek for a three day weekend. The place seemed very stable then (2000) but the new president is seen as being corrupt and preventing the development of the country.
One issue that may or may not be part of the corruption, the US has opened a military base there. That is one of the reasons for the protests, and–knowing the culture a bit–I think it is likely that the president is pocketing the rent for the US base.
Much of Central Asian culture is currupt by Western standards, and bribery is a commonly accepted method for getting just about anything to happen. Last time I was in Kazakhstan, I had to bribe a local official so that my wife and I could get marrried during the time I was there. Last time my wife got a job there, she had to pay her boss about 10 months’ salary. They are not ashamed nor shy about it, just part of the culture.
Of course that environment allows the wealthy to do just about whatever they want. It also frightens off foreign investment because the demands of government can change overnight and the cost of doing business is unpredictable.
Sad for a culture with an interesting history and many talented people, it is not likely ever to develop into a modern economy.
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