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Stacy Dallman's post about Kazakhstan

I really liked Stacy Dallman's post in her blog (http://kaziland.com/2012/03/home-sweet-home/). She describes just a small part of problems that Kazakhstan has, and she did not exaggerate her words and views. Many kazakh people do not agree with her or they keep saying that this is not new, that they already know about this kind of issue... but citizen of Kazakhstan should understand, that Stacy's post is not about new problem or view, but it is about problems that won't solve by themselves. Unfortunately, money that's suppose to go to countries development to support and improve our education, medicine, environment, and in general LIFE, goes to people who somehow have a higher authority and position in the government field. Some research and questionnaire implies that it is people's fault that we have corruption and that we don't want to change anything.  But in my opinion, we want to, but we cannot do it without government support. For example, what should a casual driver who has not broken any laws, do when he gets stopped by an officer who is asking for bribe money? Would it be easier to pay the money? Or confront the officer only to have two outcomes, get more trouble from corrupt government officials? What can a mother do if she wants her child to be in kinder-garden? Should she stay inline and by the time the oportunity is available her child is old enough to start school or is it easier to pay bribe and be first inline?

And one another question why we have Bureau who fights corruption, but that Bureauis also corrupt?

Of course, its just a question where nobody waits for answers.

Because of this corruption i really feel sad for my country and for people who lives there. Compare what i saw and what i experienced in my life i can say: "Corruption drains the life out of Kazakhstan. Corruption is everywhere in Kazakhstan. And our government doesn't want to fight with this problems, our government wants to have this corruption, so they can do whatever they want."

Gaukhar A

April 3,  2012

Home Sweet Home

Phew…. I’m finally back in North America after the longest 8 months of my life spent in Kazakhstan… and I could not be any happier to be home. After four hockey seasons spent in Astana, my time spent in that city is getting more and more difficult rather than easier like one would expect.

I don’t really know why I tolerate it less and less every year. It just pains me when I see so much potential for a huge country with abundant natural resources who’s people don’t see a dime from their land being exploited and instead live in poverty and commanded denial. The money that should be used to develop the country  is wasted away through corruption, lies, stealing, greed and selfishness on every level, in every organization from government right down to to small businesses to your everyday nanny or housekeeper.  There is no room for the average citizen to save money or get ahead in life by being honest and fair, and this enforces the never ending cycle of  corruption.  I see these things with my own eyes more and more each year and and it bothers me so much that I could easily give names and details if someone asked, the problem is that no one asks, or looks, or cares. Why employees are given lump sums of cash wrapped in newspaper to pay bills is a mystery to me. A corporate credit card would be like a babysitter for these people. Each transaction would be recorded- you can’t steal or make up numbers. It would force more businesses to modernize and to accept credit cards instead of cash. It holds people accountable, it helps in creating transparency. It’s an everyday necessity for the government and businesses, but no one is doing it. Why?

Instead of using credit cards, Kazakhstan has this silly little system which has caused me so many problems with getting reimbursed for expenses from the hockey team that it’s almost laughable. It’s called “The Blue Stamp” system. If there isn’t a blue stamp on your receipt- it’s not an official receipt. Because I buy our airline tickets online (seriously, who goes to a travel agency these days for airline tickets?!), with a (insert horror film music) credit card, the team makes it absurdly annoying to get paid back. I need the printed receipt, the actual airline ticket/boarding passes which usually get lost during the 24 hour trip, my credit card statement proving that I purchased the tickets (which is loaded with personal information that I’m just dying to give out to whoever asks for it) along with a written document from Kevin stating that he purchased the tickets. I mean, seriously?! Is all of that really necessary?? All of this because I didn’t pay in cash and acquire a little “Blue Stamp” on my receipt??! WTF! Who does business like this!? Is the team accountant making this crap up or is this the way that Kazakhstan works??? And really, why are all of the stamps blue? Just once I want to see a big fat red stamp on my Metro receipt. All of the blue is giving me a headache.

My friend Lisa and I wanted to steal a Blue Stamp one year and just plaster the damn thing all over any sort of paperwork we submitted to the team along with a big F-U at the top of the receipt for the accountant to enjoy. There is also a problem with Pay Stubs. Meaning they don’t exist. How do we know if we are getting paid? Money is in the bank. Thankfully my husbands team has always been honest with salary and we’ve never had any problems with anything aside from getting reimbursed for travel expenses. I’m sure if we made a fuss about the travel expenses we would have been paid one way or another but thankfully the next contract does not include travel expenses, they paid it upfront in the salary so I don’t have to worry about the effing Blue Stamp ever again!

I have a soft spot in my heart for injustice. I don’t care if I am not the one being cheated, I just cannot tolerate seeing people take what is not rightfully theirs. I guess I began hating everything about the Kazakhstan because the lifestyle is so unfair. I see men and women working so incredibly hard in extreme sub-zero weather just to put food on the table. One of my friends from Slovakia pointed out that if these people didn’t have jobs shoveling snow from the sides of the roads, or scrubbing dirty parking garage walls and floors on their hands and knees then they would have no job at all, so I shouldn’t feel bad for them. I was able to think this way for a while, but it’s so hard to see government officials  driving around in their brand new luxury Mercedes cars with blacked out windows and not see the injustice. How can I not ask myself how much more the government could do for it’s people instead of wasting money on luxury cars, which are double to triple the price in Kazakhstan as they are in the USA.  Government officials could drive normal, less expensive yet still reliable vehicles and the millions of dollars in savings could be used to improve the quality of life for the greater population. Kazakhstan seems to promote the “rich getting richer” while the rest of the country suffers in silence for fear of speaking out- since it is indeed illegal to criticize high ranking government officials. That’s what they call democracy, when no one is allowed to have a voice or real freedom.

Anyway, my point is that I’ve come to dislike what goes on behind nearly all closed doors in Kazakhstan. Yes, every single government in the world is corrupt. We are human,it will always be like this and probably always was like this. But it’s completely unnecessary to accept corruption and injustice as a part of your daily life. I didn’t see all of the injustices at first. It started out with having to constantly pay off traffic police for offenses such as a dirty car.  But that was just the tip of the iceberg. The more time I spent in the country  it actually started to pain me to think about going back each summer and facing these people who are so oppressed that they don’t even know they are oppressed. It’s an awful feeling going back year after year and seeing little or no progress. I am in the second largest city in Kazakhstan, I can’t even imagine what the smaller cities and villages are like. There are areas in Astana where people get their water from a pipe in the ground, even in winter. If people in the city don’t have water in their homes, what are people in the country doing?

Friends from Europe have told me not to waste my time worrying about the comfort of the Kazakh people. That Kazakhs don’t know any different and that they like their lives just the way they are. But I find it hard to believe that if you offer a person a toilet over a hole in the ground they would pick the hole in the ground instead of the toilet.  I’ve come to the conclusion that just like life in Kazakhstan is hard for me, it’s also hard for Kazakhs and that probably explains all of the frowning faces in public places. I think that I started to judge the general population for the problems created by or not corrected by their government, and that’s not fair at all. That would be like someone blaming me for injustices that the U.S. government brings about in their never ending quest for oil and natural resources (this is another blog post all in it’s own).

Anyhow, now that I’m not in Kazakhstan for a few months, maybe I will write about life in Canada and the USA so the Kazakh readers can see what it’s like here.

Гаухар A lost_in_the_night
3 апреля 2012, 13:57
17098

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t800
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Corruption is everywhere in also USA, Canada and etc. Not needs for drama there.
So sorry for you, Stacy, being dissapointed in the system people all over our country living in. But the truth is the thing we all should know. Maybe in the future something would be changed by ourselves and the existing in Kazakhstan will be not so awful as it is right now. Let this silly dream become a reality! :)

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