More than 3,000 students gathered today in front of a university in Kazakhstan's capital to express publicly their love for the country's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. The event was organized by the Astana-based State University of Humanity and Law to celebrate the Day of the First President, a holiday introduced last year in honor of the incumbent president who has ruled the oil-rich nation since it became independent in 1991.
The video below shows students holding heart-shaped balloons and reciting praises for Nazarbayev after the rector of the university. Students also sing the president's favorite songs and dance. The giant banner on the building behind the students reads, in Kazakh: “I love Kazakhstan. I love Nursultan”. The video was uploaded by Radio Azzatyq, the Kazakh service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Many netizens believe that the university that held the rally went too far in praising Nazarbayev. Some social media users compared the event to mass rallies that the authorities in North Korea often stage to praise the ruling family.
Sharing the video on Google+, Maqsat Linder asks [ru] ironically:
Это не северная Корея ?
Is it not North Korea?
Under a Radio Azattyq report about the event, Kair writes [ru]:
массовое помешательство.Еще осталось в задницу поцеловать.Прям как в Северной Корее.Позор
Collective insanity. The only thing that is left is to kiss [Nazarbayev's] ass. This is just like North Korea. Shame.
Some netizens think that the rally in Astana only damaged the president's image. Under the video of the event on YouTube, Kolya Ivanov comments [ru]:
нелепая акция. Ректору своим рвением больше вреда нанес президенту, чем пользы.Я уважаю Назарбаева и мне кажется его есть за что уважать. Но на такое сборище в жизни не пошел бы.
Stupid event. The rector [of the university which held the event] did more harm than good to the president. I respect Nazarbayev and I believe he deserves respect. But I would never go to a rally like that.
Rallies similar to the one in Astana are anything but unique to Kazakhstan. All over Central Asia, authorities, state controlled media, and religious figures tirelessly praise their countries’ political leaders, mainly in the hope of preserving jobs and statuses by demonstrating loyalty to those in power.