>>Kazakhstan’s military gets a beauty pageant and a parade
STORY: Kazakh officials appear to have fallen back on old-school techniques to increase the public profile of their military.
Clearly unfussed by accusations of sexism, Kazakhstan’s Armed Forces arranged their first Miss Military competition (March 13).
Kazakhstan will also hold its first post-independence military parade on May 7, two days before the day when the former Soviet states traditionally mark their victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.
Like other countries that have grown quickly, Kazakhstan has invested cash in its military.
The Kazakh Armed Forces have modernised and professionalised over the past decade — Kazakhstan has just signed a deal with a division of European manufacturer EADS to produce an armed helicopter — and
there is much to show off.
Still, choosing to promote the military by organising a beauty and talent contest is controversial.
The 14 finalists for the inaugural Miss military had to sing songs, perform combat moves and walk across broken glass, according to the Tengrinews website, as well as pose in both uniform and evening-wear.
A parade is a more standard approach to show off military might but, although it dodges sexism allegations, columns of tanks and missiles still conjure up Soviet-era images.
This article was first published in issue 49 of the Silk Road Intelligencer, a weekly newssheet dedicated to news from Kazakhstan. To subscribe, click here