“The Project” in Kazakhstan 89

A week ago Wikileaks released the transcript of a meeting between Julian Assange and Google CEO Eric Schmidt, together with a number of other liberal establishment figures from the USA. This transcript is an important read. Assange has been portrayed in the media as a crazed pantomime villain. The reflective and thoughtful person who emerges from these transcripts is not perhaps what people accept. I also find it encouraging that a major CEO like Schmidt himself comes over as a genuine thinker, with liberal instincts.

But I want to focus rather narrowly on one point. Assange talks at length of his disappointment at the presentation of the State Department cables by Wikileaks’ mainstream media partners. In relation to the Guardian, among other things he says this:

“The Guardian redacted two thirds of a cable about Bulgarian crime, removed all the names of the people who had infiltrated – the mafioso – who had infiltrated the Bulgarian government. Removed a description of the Kazakstan elite, which said that the Kazakstan elite in general were corrupt, not even a particular name, just in general! Removed a description that a an energy company out of Italy operating in Kazakhstan was corrupt, so they have redacted for naming of individual names of people who might be unfairly put at risk, just like we do–that is what we require of them. They have redacted the names of mafioso, individual mafioso because they are worried that they might get sued for libel in London by this mafioso. They have redacted the names… they have redacted the description of a class of Kazakhstan elite, a class has been corrupt, and they have redacted descriptions of individual companies being corrupt because they don’t want to expose themselves to any risk at all.”

This is true, but not the whole story. At that time, I was trying without success to persuade Wikileaks to let me in to the cables in my are of expertise pre-publication, to assist with editing those on Africa and Central Asia to remove any risk to individuals. I was not able to do this because of Wikileaks’ exclusive deal with the newspapers, whom I thought they trusted to a remarkable degree.

A very senior figure ar the Guardian once said to me that “It should not be underestimated how far Rusbridger saw himself as an intrinsic part of The Project ” – The Project being Tony Blair’s plan to move the old Labour Party to a neo-con position and continue the Thatcher revolution (not that they called it that, even to themselves. Modernisation, Third Way etc.) Rusbridger, Michael White, Polly Toynbee, Andrew Rawnsley remain to this day fully paid up Blairites, and the Guardian continually, to this day, give a platform to Blair and Alistair Campbell, and publish article after article about how great is his legacy and how much he still has to contribute. I can’t bring myself to the emetic task of looking any of the offending articles up – perhaps people can kindly link to some in comments!

For several years now, a major stream of the massive Blair income has come from advisory and PR work for the murderous dictatorship of Kazakhstan – a government which massacres striking miners, which might be of interest to Blair’s former constituents. When I met Alistair Campbell in November he had recently come back from Kazahstan.

Julian Assange was quite right to infer that protecting themselves from possible libel suits had caused The Guardian to redact accounts of corrupt individuals. But that can hardly have accounted for the Guardian redacting a US Embassy observation that the ruling elite of Kazakhstan are corrupt as a class. Now what concern for the image of Kazakhstan might have led Alan Rusbridger to do that?

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89 thoughts on ““The Project” in Kazakhstan

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  • guano


    Before the mob start accusing me of being racist against my fellow Muslims, the difference between life in the UK, or the Middle East or Pakistan is vast. Here we can say what we like in public within the bounds of decency. In Pakistan there is no law even in daily transactions. If you need a doctor or a government certificate you need money or connections. In Kurdistan, your file disappears until you call in your friend inside government and in one second it re-appears.

    I would find it incredibly difficult to adapt to closing my mouth and ingratiating powerful, corrupt people just to obtain what I can get legally by right over here. Similarly some Muslims feel very uncomfortable here because they remain constrained by fear of consequences from speaking what is in their hearts, and they feel a grievance towards people like Mary who speak without fear. It happens. It’s here.

  • guano

    Jon Pelfrey

    Jack Straw doesn’t deny that he accepted information obtained from torture. He says he didn’t do anything illegal. You acknowledge Craig’s service to this country in challenging that idea. That’s it. The book is closed. Apart from torturing people in order to gain public justification for outright war on innocent countries nothing else has happened. Rather a nice way to die really, watching your favourite sport, a lucky child being taken to a big arena. What about all those Muslim children who have been saved from the Satanic religion of Islam by being droned with their fathers.

    John Goss is right.

  • guano


    I have Mary’s statement which you dismiss as forgetting what she had written about herself. You are out of order.

  • Sophie Habbercake

    Hey grownups, calm down and take some deep breaths!

    Dad’s really disappeared and all you can do is bother each other about Mary who seems to be fine in fact.

  • Dreoilin

    “I have Mary’s statement which you dismiss as forgetting what she had written about herself. You are out of order.”

    I said it *might* explain why she said she thought her daily activies were being ‘logged’, Guano. I cannot for the life of me see why anyone would be bothered logging her daily activities.

    I have thought for some time that your references to other Muslims spying on you, here, were rather paranoid. But maybe you have reason. Now you’re introducing the idea of Muslims spying on Mary? I think not. And I have seen nothing from Habbabkuk that suggests any computer expertise above the norm.

  • April Showers

    I read (in a café) today that B.Liar blagged accommodation for himself and his cohort at the UK Embassy in Manila where he was on one of his lucrative speaking engagements, although why anyone would pay to hear what he has to say beats me.

    The Ambassador there was appointed in B.Liar’s time in 2005.

    Is it standard practice for UK Embassies to provide free accommodation for ex PMs, even war criminals like B.Liar? Could we all have free stays when travelling abroad.

    Blair makes a fortune on lecture tours… and you pay for his stay: Outcry as former PM stays on taxpayer-funded residences

    Foreign Office says it offers Blair ‘use of residences’ when ‘appropriate’
    Blair stayed for free on a trip in which he made more than £200,000
    He has property portfolio worth millions and a lucrative consultancy firm


  • Jemand

    @Dreoilin, 29 Apr, 11.26am

    Well writ, Dreoilin. And good spotting of Mary’s new pseudonym – I hadn’t noticed. Her epic, emotional departure to be quickly followed by a reappearance as one ‘April Showers’ is hilarious (in a pathetic sort of way).

    Since New Mary posted off topic about the Oz mining boom and how Aborigines are getting little or nothing of it – let me say that neither am I. In fact life is in many ways worse off for the rest of us who don’t own or work for the mining companies and supporting services. Rent is tighter and more expensive, prices on goods have risen dramatically and services have declined in quality as skilled workers have been poached by the mining “boom”.

    I expect we will be reading a lot more of ‘April Showers’ with one-sided accounts of misery and despair at the hands of the evil caucasian and his diabolical, semitic hybrid cousin. Will Habbabkuk come back in a new guise as her nemesis? Stay tuned.

  • April Showers

    Norman is another greedy individual who wants and gets more than his fair share of what’s available.


    What was he doing at this Simon Wiesenthal event at the Waldorf Astoria in NY with Kissinger and Trump in 1998. What bad company he keeps.

    The diminutive king, escorted by his wife Queen Noor, spoke Tuesday night at the Waldorf Astoria as he was honored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center before an audience of about 700 tuxedo-clad guests including former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Abba Eban, Donald Trump and golfer Greg Norman, Olympic figure skating gold medalist Tara Lipinski and former football player Rosie Greer.

  • April Showers

    Excellent news from the EU for a change. Owen Paterson and ‘Big Agri Chemical’ have been defeated on neonicotinoid use. The conservation bodies such as the Bumblebee Conservation Trust were saying that if these chemicals were banned, the result would be more spraying of crops and they wanted to wait for more research. Wait long enough and there would be no bees left at all.

    Bee-harming pesticides banned in Europe

    EU member states vote ushers in continent-wide suspension of neonicotinoid pesticides


  • Dreoilin

    Thanks Jemand.

    I note what you say: “In fact life is in many ways worse off for the rest of us who don’t own or work for the mining companies and supporting services.”

    Yanis Varoufakis, Greek-Australian and Economics professor, agrees with you. I heard this interview with him about a month ago. He believes that Australia is in for a hard landing, eventually.


    “On Cyprus, the Eurozone and the Australian economy” (mp3)

  • Jemand

    Thanks for the link, Dreoilin. 

    I forgot to also mention that the mining boom has also pushed the AUD above parity with the USD which has had the effect of killing our manufacturing industries. A lot of workers have been retrenched in the Eastern states but there is little chance of them switching to mining due to a growing preference for imported foreign labour, hired at lower rates.

    As the world’s richest woman, West Australian Gina Rinehart, says “Africans want to work, and its workers are willing to work for less than $2 per day. Such statistics make me worry for this country’s future.” Gina (worth more than $18B) doesn’t like the idea of paying more than the prevailing third-world market rate to those working on her iron-ore mines.

    A painting of Gina won an award recently –

  • shekissesfrogs

    It’s such a small world.
    Guardian and France 24 if i remember correctly redacted the bulgarian cables.
    The reason they redacted more, as pointed out is that Prince Andrews is part of the racket and getting paid off.

    Guess who turns up connected to the Boston Bombers Uncle Ruslan Tsarni (Tsarnaev) who denounced them on TV?
    He was married to the daughter of an important CIA spook for a while who denied deeper connection to Ruslan. It’s not really true. They are all covered in shit from the same pig-sty.


  • Surbiton Comet

    Local Man Disappears

    Local man Rupert Habercake has been reported missing after an incident around 7 15 yesterday morning in the garden of a house on Haycroft Rd. Neighbours reported several minutes of shouting and the sound of hammering and breaking glass.

    Mr Habercake was seen running from the scene dressed only in blue striped pyjamas.

    Rupert Havercake enjoyed brief notoriety in 2004 after his interpretation of Mr Knightley in the Amateur Dramatic Society’s production of “Emma” sparked a week of riots that left St Mary’s Community hall and much of Church St in ruins.

    Since that time he has kept out of the public eye and is reported to have taken up writing.

  • Soshie Habbercake


    What have you done!

    Mr Kemp was round agian looking for you and there’s been a big black van parked outside the O’Brien’s since yesterday afternoon and the two big men inside have spent the whole time looking over at our house and when Emily passed it on the wayto school this morning she says she could hear them talking in what sounded like Russian.

    I don’t think you should come home just yet dad.

    And Komodo.

    I’m late replying because I got detention, again. Gary passed me a cartoon he drew in History of you swallowing a buffalo and telling me there was a message from you on the Channel Thatcher thread. I think you should learn to cut your food up and chew and when I laughed Miss Trunchball saw us she came striding down the class, grabbed it and showed everyone and said cartoons were vulgar and childish and anyone who even smiled would get detention too. But not Edwina Braintree who had a smirk the size of a banana as we left the class.

    Anyway you are forgiven cos I read that last chapter of “Newspeak” again cos I thought it had got into the wrong book and it hadn’t and the rest of the book makes so much sense I’ve decided to give the”pactising compassion” it a try.

    So Mr Komodo you ask how can you make amends. Well I’ll consider your atonement done and dusted once you have brought Bliar before Kingston Magistrates Court and successfully prosecuted him for the “Supreme International Crime” as defined by the International Tribunal at Nuremberg. He must be sentenced to comuntiy service in Fallujah every Saturday morning for at least the next ten years. Please note I may be angry with you but because I am practicing compassion I will not be cruel and I think you have more of a chance with Kingston Magistrates than with the ICC. There are some rough parts around Kingston and they have to deal with that kind of stuff every other week.

    Do you think practicing compassion means we can’t throw Edwina Braintree in a pit full of rattlesnakes after the revolution? Cos in that case I think i will need a few more lifetimes to get it right.

    I mean really mean ones which weren’t given enough cuddling when they were baby rattlesnakes. I better stop now cos I know there’s serious stuff to consider and I’m clogging the thread. Sorry folks.

  • lysias

    RT is reporting that the prime minister of the republic of Georgia has stated that the elder of the Chechen brothers involved in the Boston bombing may have attended terrorism seminars in Georgia under the auspices of the former right-wing, anti-Russian, pro-American government of Georgia. This would have been during the time that the brother was supposedly in Russia during his 2012 visit there.

  • Bird of family Troglolytidae

    I should’ve studied in finance instead I’m here reading more. Time for some more tapioca in my diaper….

    ‘The Venezuelan state-run TV station ViVe has claimed that the 2010 Haiti earthquake was caused by US government weapons testing, and a government cover-up took place.’

  • Dreoilin

    “I should’ve studied in finance instead I’m here reading more. Time for some more tapioca in my diaper…”

    Knock it off, Balding. Or go back to the ‘official-tsarnaev-story-makes-no-sense’ thread where you belong.

    Surbiton Comet,

    That was a hoot 😉

  • April Showers

    Further to my post at 8.39am yesterday about John Pilger’s new film Utopia, here are two comments from Australians from Medialens on the subject of the Aboriginal people’s status in Australia.

    Re: Despair Down Under

    Posted by dereklane on April 30, 2013, 1:19 am, in reply to “Despair Down Under”

    Unfortunately, it seems for the most part, the only people that read Pilger on indigenous issues don’t live in the country. Most I’ve met have never heard of him (and there aren’t any notable others anyone has heard of either), and those that have reflexively dislike him.

    There are 2 Australias still, Aboriginal and non-aboriginal. Some indigenous people have learnt to live in the non aboriginal Australia, but (for those) who can’t or won’t (out of principle), it’s dire. A lot of good hip hop and other music now being made in such place, which is perhaps good to limiting the depression, but the best I’ve seen in non-aboriginal parts (barring one friend) is casual lip service and then a subject change.


    Re: Despair Down Under

    Posted by iorarua on April 30, 2013, 12:29 pm, in reply to “Re: Despair Down Under”

    ‘… the only people that read Pilger on indigenous issues don’t live in the country’

    Little wonder. For most of Pilger’s career, there has been an unofficial ‘blackout’ of both him and his works in virtually all Australian mainstream media sources. This is despite the fact that his books are big sellers there. If he is mentioned at all, it’s usually as the subject of a rant against his ‘bleeding heart’ ignorance by right-wing and centre-left journalists or academics.

    More recently, the ABC has made the bold move of featuring him on Q&A a few times. However, the program’s policy of selecting panels dominated by loud mouthed politicians doing their best to out-scream one another does not lend itself well to Pilger’s mild, measured way of speaking.

  • Jemand

    Yes, two selected comments about Australia from millions of possible comments. Well done, New Mary. You are now a proven scholar and expert on Australian cultural heritage.

  • different name

    OK – let’s talk about Kazakhstan. Good to see you’re talking about that place, Craig.

    Has anyone here read Godfather-in-law, the book by president Nazarbayev’s former son-in-law, Rakjat Aliyev? If someone knows of an online copy of the English edition of this book, I’d be grateful if they could post a link.

    President Sultan Nazarbayev is a nutter of the first proportion. We’re talking a higher level of lunacy than is displayed by Blair’s other friend Silvio Berlusconi, albeit maybe slightly lower than is revelled in by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the dictator of Kalmykia.

    That said, Nazarbayev and Ilyumzhinov have both suggested that they want to be the Great Overseer not just of one religion, but of all religions. When Prince Andrew, ‘Britain’s trade envoy’ in tabloidspeak, expressed his admiration for the corruption in Kazakhstan, was he thinking of his brother, who has also given signs that he wants to be head of all religions? Take a look at (Buddhist) Ilyumzhinov’s autobiography (The President’s Crown of Thorns – a kind of Mein Kampf without the racism, if you can possibly imagine that – and (Muslim) Nazarbayev’s pyramid in Astana and the kind of meetings it was supposed to host.

    ‘Astana’ is Kazakh for ‘capital’. It’s a new capital. The old one was Alma-Ata. Astana used to be Tselinograd, named after the Russian for ‘virgin land’, which was the centre of one of the most famous of Khrushchev’s ‘hare-brained schemes’ – the one that involved the plantation of crops in new areas with a total size equal to the entire sown area of Canada. But oops, they forgot about windbreaks, and it all went belly-up very quickly. Maybe there’s something in the air?

    Nazarbayev says he’s going to leave the question of whether to rename the capital after himself to future generations. Get it? The loony thinks he’s Ataturk reborn. ‘Astana’ is just a holding name.

    The guy with his hands on the money in the country is Alexander Mashkevitch. He’s not from Kazakhstan; he’s from Kyrgyzstan. Not that he’s Kyrgyz, though, you understand, or for that matter Russian. In recent years, he’s become described in the western media as a “London-based Israeli businessman”. Needless to say, he’s a multibillionaire, one of the ‘oligarch’ Jewish robber barons from the former USSR who have been made so welcome in London by the corrupt regime in Britain.

    Talking of hands, Kazakh banknotes all have a big picture of one of Nazarbayev’s. You can also go up the Bayterek tower and put your hand in the dictator’s handprint, if you want to get the vibe. I wonder where he’s earmarked for his tomb.

    Take a flight with Air Astana and you will probably get some in-flight material with pictures showing Kazakhstan past, present, and future. The picture for the past shows some nomads. The present is represented by the Bayterek tower, a phallic monument situated on the main axis in Astana, which runs towards the presidential palace. (That axis needs to be seen to be believed! If anyone is reading this who has the slighest interest in what I’m saying, but hasn’t come across that axis, please do check it out.) The future is represented by a densely-packed mass of skyscrapers that could be in, say, New York or Hong Kong.

    Such a vision for such a large country is fucking insane.

    Elite members want to create a mixture of Singapore, Monte Carlo, Dubai, etc. They want to have it all. They’re all too scared to say ‘wait a minute’.

    Astana is akin to two cities grafted together. One, although it may be falling down in places, at least has some character. Almost all of it was built before Astana was thought of, starting in the 1950s. The other is like what Wacko Michael Jackson might have had built, if he were the president. It’s like Disneyland. None of the style that you might associate with, say, Mad King Ludwig. We’re talking completely plastic crap.

    In passing, I’ll mention the National University of Eurasia. Yes, ‘national’, as if Eurasia is a ‘nation’ and Astana is its capital. Recall Haushofer. Condoleezza Rice has visited. Didn’t you know that he who controls Kazakhstan controls the world?

    Meanwhile there’s another university, a private one, with English as its language. Can you guess who it’s named after?

    One of the administrative models that the elite boast about using in Kazakhstan is that of the Lee family’s dictatorship in Singapore, which, by the way, is also followed in a lesser way by the regime in mainland China – it’s where they send mayors to get trained.

    Most officials at every level are too scared to take decisions on anything out of the ordinary. If they took responsibility for something even slightly unusual, they could get into big trouble, and so could their boss. So the pass it up the hierarchy, and then their boss may well do the same. The regime has an extremely macho and thuggish smell to it at all levels.

    Big western-based capital of course makes megabucks out of the minerals…

    It can’t be long until the whole economy collapses, but of course that isn’t just true of Kazakhstan.

    Mashkevitch won’t be caught anywhere near there when it does…

  • different name

    Typo. Should be Rakhat, not Rakyat, Aliyev. Seem to have messed up italicisation too – sorry.

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