Posted by: Christian | December 14, 2010

Wikileaks, Der Spiegel and Central Asia

The title of the article in Spiegel on wikileaks and Central Asia is “America’s Unsavory Friends in Central Asia” and a photo of a  Roll-Royce Phantom rolling around the Kazakh projects. The caption is the hand-wringing despair of  “In Central Asia, contrasts are often stark.”

As soon as I saw it I could tell that it’s a replica….because I has seen it on English Russia about a year ago. And the attached but not immediately visible info for the pic? Spiegel should have scrubbed that, because after I downloaded it I read it:

Ruslan Mukanov, a 24-years-old car mechanic, drives his home-made replica of the Rolls-Royce Phantom in Shakhtinsk town, about 200 km (125 miles) south of the capital Astana, January 14, 2010. Mukanov created the replica out of an old Mercedes, working in his garage from March 2009 till July 2009 and spending almost $3,000 before completing it. Picture taken January 14, 2010. REUTERS/Valery Kaliev (KAZAKHSTAN – Tags: TRANSPORT SOCIETY)

So, a fake pic to start the article and get your outrage going. How did the rest go? That where the obvious part comes in.

A bunch of salacious anecdotes about stuff everybody knows about (lots of us have seen the president’s weekend house and the toys that the elite play with). And then some stuff that sounds like the mish-mish that goes around: someone in some ministry is up to something, the president better watch out, etc…

And shockingly [sarcasm], American diplomats are talking shop with some of these bad people (so, just like at all the other times in American history?). Joking aside, a few cables have been sort of mildly informative. But, putting on my historian hat, I haven’t seen anything that we (Central Asianists) will be talking about in a decade from now.

Then the article provides some really misleading background info that even a trip to Wikipedia could fix. But, my study break is over…. Back to dissertation work. I promise no more blogging will be had here for a long time.

For now you can follow’s more informed blogging on the issue. Don’t expect anything here.

Anyways, wanna see the fake Kazakhstani RR Phantom?


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