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Kazakh pension scandals stir criticism of government

Corruption allegations undermine Astana's modernizing self-image

The shiny and expensive architecture of downtown Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, is part of the legacy of autocratic President Nursultan Nazarbayev.   © Reuters

ASTANA -- Media trainer Anara Kuandikova, 29, is typical of the generation of post-independence professionals who have most to lose if anything goes wrong with oil-rich Kazakhstan's scandal-struck Unified Pension Fund.

"I still see my pension contributions as a real investment in my future," said Kuandikova, who works in Astana and pays a tenth of her $600 monthly salary -- one-and-a-half times the national average wage -- into the fund.

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