Nazarbayev – who led the former-Soviet state for three decades – stepped down unexpectedly on Tuesday. He decided to give himself a retirement present by renaming Kazakhstan’s capital city from Astana to Nursultan.
While the new president officially announced the change, several hitherto unreported comments by Nazarbayev suggest he might have been behind the idea.
“I built this city, and I’m gunna make damn sure people remember that,” Nazarbayev told sources in private. “Why, you ask? Because fuck you, that’s why.”
“Nobody shall ever doubt the Astana-shing extent of my influence,” he added. “And no, you may not make that pun. Only I may say that.”
Nazarbayev then went on to address accusations that he’d occasionally misused his presidential powers.
“Some people accuse me of running a personality cult. I say: ‘Arrest them!’ Then they magically disappear.”
The Tragic Traveller flew to Kazakhstan to interview locals about Astana’s name change. One woman on the street seemed completely unfazed by the news.
“Eh, on the crazy dictator scale this is like a 2 out of 10,” she said. “In Turkmenistan the president banned all dogs on a whim. Sure, I might have to change my address on those 10,000 business cards I printed last week. But hey, at least I don’t have to kill my poodle.”
At publication time, a planeload of tourists were pretty shocked to find that the city they’d just arrived in technically no longer exists.