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Update Thursday, October 25, 2007: This story was correct in identifying APCO as Kazakhstan’s lobbying firm, and the firm did dispatch several lobbyists to the hearings. But I have no evidence that APCO helped set up the hearings or improperly influenced them. I regret the error. Full correction.
“APCO PICKS UP ‘BORAT’ ACCOUNT,” is the headline from an article posted today on odwyerpr.com. The story recounts that APCO–the firm that so desperately wanted to whitewash the reputation of Stalinist Turkmenistan when I approached them earlier this year with bags of non-existent cash–has been paid $487,777 this year to represent the energy-rich regime of Nursultan Nazarbayev.
After I exposed their money-grubbing, APCO sought to lie its way out of the embarrassing situation by claiming that it never really intended to represent Turkmenistan (despite the groveling emails the firm had sent me offering to do just that). APCO’s high ethical standards apparently don’t keep it from working for Nazarbayev, who recently took steps that effectively make him president-for-life. And more money looks to be in the pipeline. APCO, odwyerpr.com reports, “is hammering out final details in an agreement to provide global PR for energy rich Kazakhstan, the former Soviet Union state that was featured in the movie ‘Borat’.”
I suspect (but can’t confirm) that Elizabeth Jones, one of the APCO lobbyists with whom I met, helped sign up the Kazakh account. She’s a former U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan and also previously served as the State Department’s senior advisor for Caspian Sea energy diplomacy.
Just today, hearings were held at Congress on Kazakhstan’s bid to chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
I’m told by a source on the Hill that APCO played a role in setting up the hearings. Nazarbayev’s regime has been trying for the past four years to head up the OSCE, but its efforts have always been blocked because of the country’s poor record on human rights and democratization. Winning the bid for Kazakhstan is clearly high on the agenda of APCO’s lobbyists.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Rank of Detroit among major U.S. cities whose residents give the largest portion of their income to charity:
A South Dakota researcher concluded that only scant blood spatter results when chain saws are used to dismember pigs.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature