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Grumbling mounts over Kazakh showcase events

Long-time leader Nazarbayev 'using public funds to polish personality cult'

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Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu review a guard of honor at the Akorda presidential residence in Astana on Dec. 14, 2016.   © Reuters

ALMATY -- For Kazakhstan, 2017 is a year of eye-catching global events, including the world student games, opening on Sunday Jan. 29 in Almaty and an energy-focused international exposition running from June to September in Astana. The Kazakh capital is also hosting peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups, attracting global media attention.

But Kazakhstan is facing a deep economic crisis, prompting many to question whether scarce resources are being wasted on international events that serve largely to burnish the domestic image of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the country's authoritarian leader since 1989.

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