Medvedev Tweets Birthday Greetings to Nazarbayev

July 7, 2010, by Joanna Lillis

Medvedev Tweets Birthday Greetings to NazarbayevKazakhstan’s leader had some surprise greetings as he celebrated his 70th birthday on July 6 – Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev not only sent his wishes via Twitter, he also wrote them in Kazakh.

“Today Nursultan Nazarbayev, a great friend of Russia, is 70 years old. Happy Birthday!” Medvedev – who’s known as an avid user of new media – tweeted in Russian, before continuing in Kazakh: “I congratulate you on your celebration!”

The shrewdly-designed tweet from the Kremlin will be well-received by Nazarbayev, both as testimony to his close relationship with the Russian president and as a boost to efforts to get Kazakhstan – where Russian dominates public life – speaking Kazakh.

Twitter has yet to take off in a big way as a social and media tool in Kazakhstan. Government officials are, however, eager to keep up with the times – Prime Minister Karim Masimov runs an active blog and the rest of the government is following his orders to do likewise, with mixed results.

Though officials in Kazakhstan’s corridors of power have yet to fully harness the power of new media, social networking sites such as Facebook and Russia’s Odnoklassniki are very popular among ordinary people in Kazakhstan, so much so that a Kazakh version, On, has recently sprung up. Kazakh pop stars are running blogs there, and ordinary people are busy taking part in the online exchange of views and looking up their old school friends.

Nazarbayev doesn’t yet have an On presence, but you never know – he may be lured into trying out the latest online trends by responding to media savvy Medvedev’s birthday tweet.