Kazakhstan has been making headlines in the UK over the last few days, due to PM David Cameron's trade visit to that country. Once again Cameron, along with trade delegates, are trawling the globe touting for business. Are UK taxpayers footing the bill? We imagine so but we must remember that you have to speculate to accumulate. Feint heart never won business contract and although Messrs Cameron and Osborne would have us all believe that an economic recovery is on the UK horizon his desperate foreign visits belie that version of events.
Kazakhstan has a poor human rights record but that has been pushed under the carpet, as desperate times need desperate measures. Syrian war sceptics could have a field day. After all Cameron keeps banging the drum against the abuses allegedly made against Syrian civilians by the Assad regime threatening war and more.
According to the USA in 2007 Kazakhstan does not allow the right to a fair trial, which is rich is you consider the fate of US whistleblower Bradley Manning and murdered teenager Trayvon Martin. The US did not criticise Kazakhstan greatly though as it is useful nuclear ally, at least for now.
It seems that when you may be open for business with the UK almost anything goes.
Cameron acknowledged the abuses in Kazakhstan and said he would be condemning them to the country's leaders. He will of course not be following that through with trade sanctions, such as in South Africa in the past. Times are tough and Cameron cannot afford to stand on high principles, that is not unless the country, like Syria, has nothing to offer in the short term.
The Republic of Kazakhstan was once part of the huge Soviet Empire. It was the last coutry to claim independence in 1991. Many religions flourish in the country but about 70% of locals are Muslims. The country is part of the UN and manages to straddle the fence and enjoy good relations with both the east and the west.
Tuesday Kazakhstan is making headlines as an unmanned "Russian Proton-M rocket crashed just seconds after its launch from the Russian Baikonur facility in Kazakhstan". The rocket broke up and exploded into a huge fireball above the facility. The news gets worse. "Up to 500 tonnes of poisonous rocket fuel may have been released and contaminated the crash site". At least there are no reports of injuries, but Russians claim that the debris from such launches is a health hazard..
The dramatic footage can be viewed here