• Kazakhstan marks 550 years of ‘statehood’ despite economic pain

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    ASTANA, Kazakhstan: Kazakhstan is rolling out colorful pageantry to celebrate 550 years of statehood, defying an economic downturn that has battered a country viewed as a post-Soviet success story. In scenes recalling its distant nomadic past, men wearing fur hats and cradling eagles were out in the capital Astana this weekend as female dancers decked in light blue frocks and pointed hats danced to traditional music. President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the 75-year-old strongman of this Central Asian country who is known for his grandiose nation-building projects, has named 2015 “the 550th anniversary of the Kazakh Khanate.” The grand celebrations, which run into October, come after Russian President Vladimir Putin angered many Kazakhs by saying the country never enjoyed statehood before its independence from the former Soviet Union. “The Kazakhs never had statehood—he created it,” Putin said last year, referring to Nazabayev.

    AFP

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