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Kazakhs shower president with cryptic questions
June 1, 2007 / 4:45 PM / 10 years ago

Kazakhs shower president with cryptic questions

ALMATY (Reuters) - He may be experienced at fielding questions on geopolitics but when the Kazakh president logs on next week for his first Internet news conference he will have to tackle some more bizarre matters.

<p>Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev attends a news conference in Astana ,May 28, 2007. He may be experienced at fielding questions on geopolitics but when the Kazakh president logs on next week for his first Internet news conference he will have to tackle some more bizarre matters. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov</p>

Just a week before the June 7 webcast, most Kazakhs who wrote in wanted President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s advice on how to set up a piece of complicated software on their computers -- as well as his mobile phone number.

The cryptic software question -- “How does one patch KDE under FreeBSD?” -- appeared to be the most popular query posted on the webcast site, with more that 11,000 people asking for it to be forwarded to the 66-year-old leader.

Nazarbayev, a former steelworker who has been in power for almost two decades in the Central Asian state, usually comes across as serious and unsmiling in public and rarely touches on off-beat issues.

His media appearances are tightly regulated and reporters are usually not allowed to ask him direct questions unless they have been approved by his press service.

Russian President Vladimir Putin faced a similar question and answer session on the Internet last year when Russians asked their leader questions such as whether he planned to employ “giant, humanoid war robots”.

Although many questions on the Kazakh site, e.gov.kz/online, concerned matters like education and living standards, the most popular ones, posted on its front page, concerned other issues.

More than 9,000 people wanted to know “when the authorities will start chopping off civil servants’ tongues for lying to the president in the most outrageous way”, was the portal’s second-most favorite question as of Friday evening.

One user, backed by more than 2,000 votes and identified as Aizhan, asked: “What is your mobile phone number? Can I call you directly?”

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