With The Diplomat, I ran through the Westerners whitewashing Uzbekistan's recent sham election, which saw the new president rake in nearly 90 percent of the vote:
Like the 2015 presidential election before it, a smattering of Western actors found their way to Uzbekistan to offer paeans to Tashkent’s political system. Thankfully, the Uzbekistani parliament’s website compiled these views for journalists and researchers alike. For instance, France’s Pierre-Emmanuel Dupont, who works with FACO Paris, said the elections were “held in the spirit of openness and transparency,” according to the Oliy Majlis’s synopsis. A Lithuanian MP, Valerijus Simulik, also reportedly claimed the elections were held in accordance with international requirements. And as the Oliy Majlis’s website related, Bernadette Mill, a councilor for the London Borough of Waltham Forest, echoed Simulik’s observations, claiming the elections were held in accordance with international standards.
Also with The Diplomat, I looked at how the Kazakhstani government has reacted to the election of Donald Trump, mixing pragmatism with a healthy dose of glee:
But the state of Kazakhstan’s domestic affairs, for anyone reading beyond the puff pieces about Kazakhstan injected into Western press, is far from miraculous. Not only did 2016 bring Kazakhstan’s its most substantial terrorist attack and largest anti-government protests to date, but the country’s economic exhaustion – much like in Russia or Azerbaijan – shows little sign of ending. Moreover, Nazarbayev is no closer to handing off the presidency in the near future, pushing ahead to his fourth decade at Kazakhstan’s helm. (As the New York Times recently noted, the Kazakhstani president is “one of the world’s most durable despots.”)
Nazarbayev, it appears, recognizes in Trump someone with whom he can deal, without concerns of human rights or democratization entering the conversation. As Nazarbayev recently told Bloomberg, Trump’s decision “not to spread American values across the whole globe” is a “very important thing.” Moreover, the kleptocratic model refined in Astana shows swelling signs of coming to Washington – especially as it pertains to the incoming president.