Cablegate Chronicles: Relaxation the Good, Old Soviet Way

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An American ambassador describes the less exotic Kazakhstani recreational activities of Defense Minister Akhmetov.


FROM: ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN
TO: STATE DEPARTMENT
DATE: APRIL 17, 2008
CLASSIFICATION: CONFIDENTIAL
SEE FULL CABLE

¶9. (C) Kazakhstan's political elites also have recreational tastes that are not so exotic. Some, in fact, prefer to relax the old-fashioned way. Defense Minister Akhmetov, a self-proclaimed workaholic, appears to enjoy loosening up in the tried and true "homo sovieticus" style -- i.e., drinking oneself into a stupor. While most of our accounts of Akhmetov's indulgences with the bottle are hearsay, we do have "eyes on" for one episode which supports the rumors. In June 2007, Akhmetov showed up in grand form for a meeting with a visiting senior U.S. Defense Department official. Making no attempt to conceal his condition -- slouching back in his chair and slurring all kinds of Russian participles -- Akhmetov explained to this very senior guest that he had just been at a cadet graduation reception "toasting Kazakhstan's newly-commissioned officers." Who was toasted more -- the Defense Minister or the cadets -- is a matter of pure speculation. Akhmetov's excesses do not solely extend to the bottle. An insider at Astana's Radisson Hotel recently told us about preparations for the unbelievably lavish and expensive wedding of Akhmetov's son. In the Kazakh tradition, the parents of the groom are responsible for the wedding -- so it would seem that Akhmetov must have footed the bill.

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