The political and business environment in Tomania.

Standard

Tomania lies in Eurasia.

– Tomania faces long term decline.

= Shalimar’s family will remain on the throne.

= this is the wild east.

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COUNTRY PROFILE

Tomania has a population of 17 000 000 and it is growing slowly.

About 60% of the population is ethnically Tomanian. Around 23% of the people are of the Russian ethnicity. The rest are of various ethnic groups. The two official languages are Tomanian and Russian. Tomania has become increasingly prominent. There are some ethnic Tomanians who cannot converse in their native language. Among the junior generation all ethnic Tomanians can speak at least a little Tomanian. Those who are not of the Tomanian ethnicity can usually not speak Tomanian.

The majority of people are Muslims almost all of whom are of the Sunni denomination. The country is a secular state. Christians and Jews worship freely. The country boasts that it has hosted international interfaith symposia.

Apple is the largest city. It is the commercial centre of the country. However, this is gradually being shifted to capital. Apple has 2.5 million people and is a little polluted. Some people are being shifted to the Capital.

Capital was designated the seat of government in 1998. Almost no building there is older than 70 years old. The city centre was only constructed since the Millennium. Capital is trying to model itself on the UAE to the extent that they are building a tower there called Abu Dhabi Plaza. Capital has 800 000 souls. It is being expanded. There are overly ambitious plans to double it in 20 years and expand it east towards the airport. There is no metro system. The city is too small to need one. Moreover, the ground rock is very hard.

The president is Shalimar. Shalimar has ruled the country since 1989.

 

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HISTORY

The country has only been united even theoretically since the mid 16th century. This land has been ranged over by various nomadic groups. There were three hordes: the Great Horde, the Middle Horde and the Little Horde. These itinerant horsemen were effectively three separate nations. They spoke three distinct but related languages. The Mongols conquered the country for a time. The steppe was ranged over by skull piling despots. Genghis Khan and his ilk are considered heroes here despite the fact that they slaughtered Kazakh civilians by the tens of thousand. The hordes converted to Sunni Islam over the centuries. By the 18th century everyone was a Muslim at least in name. In the towns Islam was practised in a mainstream fashion. Many Kazakhs were still herdsmen. These itinerants were seldom literate. There was just a patina of Islam over their tengri faith.

In the 17th century the Russians began to conquer the north-west corner of the land. By the mid 19th century the conquest was complete. Russian rule was largely nominal outside the towns. The railway was built by Russian labourers who formed settlements at each railway station. Russian penal colonies were established in the country. Russian education was introduced. Some Tomanians abandoned their wandering lifestyle and came into the cash economy.

A nationalist movement emerged around 1900. This was informed by Western liberal ideals more than Islam. The Social Democratic and Labour Party was also established here. It made inroads among the Russian proletariat but little among the Tomanians. This was partly owing the language difficulties, bucolicism but also religiosity.

In the First World War there was a huge rebellion when the emperor attempted to conscript people. This was not fully quelled until the mid 1930s. The revolt was put down with the extraordinary level of brutality that is unique to totalitarian regimes. Ardent Muslims were the most likely to resist and therefore the most likely to be killed.

Famously Trostsky was banished to apple in the 1920s. Apple was then a thoroughly Russian city.

The 1930s was a time of enormous upheaval for the country. Stalin banned the itinerant mores of most Tomanians. They were compelled to join collective farms. This often did not work. Millions of people died of starvation. It is thought that a third of the population died due to this man made famine. It was difficult to survive without being a collaborator. Hundreds of thousands of people were made slave labourers. Not many survived a long sentence.

Joining the Communist Party was the only means to a good career. In order to join one had to declare one’s atheism. Not many Tomanians were willing to do so. Refusal to join the communist party and inability to speak fluent Russian put Tomanians at a distinct disadvantage. The top jobs went overwhelmingly to those of the Russian or Ukrainian ethnicity.

Many slave labour camps were established in the country. Political prisoners and religious practitioners were sent there. When they were released they were required to still live in Tomania. This partly explains the country’s ethnic mix. Moscow’s racist policies saw Germans, Poles, Chechens and Koreans uprooted from their homes and moved to Tomania.

Brezhnev was General Secretary of the Tomanian Communist Party in the 1950s. Put plainly he was the viceroy. He arrived from Moscow never having been to the country. He made no attempt to learn a word of the local language. He dealt almost entirely with Russians or Ukrainians who were in the senior ranks of the civil service and security agencies. In the 1950s Khruschev launched his virgin land’s scheme. He attempted more arable agriculture in Tomania. He moved even more Russians there. His schemes were largely unsuccessful. The country also became the most important region for oil production. This was partly because Azerbaijan was seen as politically unreliable and too vulnerable to invasion by Turkey or Iran.

In the 1980s there was much discontent when an indigenous Tomanian Dinmukahmed Kunaev was sacked as party boss. He was replaced by a man who had never been to Tomanian before. His name was Gennady Kolbin. This lead to a massive protest in Apple. The police responded in their usual way to free expression and shot hundreds of protesters. The demonstrators were then accused of being hooligans. The Muscovite was so detested that he was dismissed after a few years. He was replaced with Shalimar who is a local. Shalimar led the country to independence.Since independence a huge number of Russians left the country. Many ethnic Germans claimed German citizenship and returned to Der Vaterland.

Shalimar actively opposed the breakup of the USSR. However, it happened in 1991. He has always maintained a very close relationship with Moscow.

Tomanians forces took part in the Tajik Civil War in the mid 90s. Predictably Tomania took the same side as Russia in this conflict. They were fighting against religious fanatics.

The Tomanian language was raised in status.

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SHALIMAR

Shalimar was born in 1940. He comes from an indigenous family. He grew up in no state of privilege. He was educated in Tomania and speaks Tomanian as his first language. He worked his way up through the party ranks.

Shalimar is unrivaled. There is almost a Prime Minister. Shalimar changes PM every few years. 5 years is the longest any Premier has lasted. This serves to underscore the paramountcy of Shalimar. It also prevents a Prime Minister from building a power base.

He is a practising Muslim. He has been to Mecca and even entered the Ka’ba. He is not pharasaical about his religion.

He appoints relatives to high posts. His clan rules the roost. His relatives are married to members of other prominent families. His junior sibling is Bolat.

He maintains a courteous relationship with the United States. He has even allowed American troops in on training exercises. However, his worldview seems to have changed little since the Soviet era.  He is staunchly pro Moscow. He has no sympathy for Muslim rebels in Chechnya or Dagestan. He dismisses very well founded reports of atrocities by Russian troops against Muslims civilians as being false. On the other hand he is sympathetic to Palestine. Despite that he maintains relations with Israel. He believes that the overthrow of Gaddafi was a crime.

Shalimar is known for his prolixity. His television addresses are listened to with reverence. He likes to publicly dress down officials. This is a recognition that all is not well with the bureaucracy. There is much maladministration. The public like to see functionaries given a tongue lashing. Ordinary people are the ones who suffer from the indolence, incompetence and rapaciousness of public officials. This is why the delight in seeing the president put the boot in. It is the myth of the good Tsar; ” If only the paramount leader knew about the sloth and avarice of some idiot officials he would save us from this. ” Just occasionally the supremo has to find out and do something.

His palace is White Horde. In fact he lives a few kilometres to the south -east in a compound. He is very touchy and always keen to emphasise his importance. He has an endless appetite for laud. He has a fraternal relation with most regional rulers of a similar stripe. He is known not to like Islam Karimov. His cult of the personality is worse than Aliyev but not as bad as that of Berdymukhamedov. He is surrounded by a huge entourage even when in his own capital. There is no significant threat to his safety but he likes to feel big.

He likes to be known as the Leader of the Nation more than by his formal title.

He has a good relationship with Paccolli  – the former president of Kosovo. Kosovo is another secular Sunni Muslim country that used to be part of a large communist nation. Paccolli owns Mabetex construction. Mabetex has its headquarters in Lugano, Switzerland. This is where the Tomanian state oil company has it trading house. Many of the Tomanian elite like to live there partly because Lugano has an American school. There is also a Swiss Diamond Hotel in that city which is owned by Paccolli. For decades Lugano has been known as a place to stash money that has been acquired in an creative manner. Mabetex built the Presidential Palace in Captial. It is widely known that Mabetex gives very generous gifts to those who award it contracts.

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DAILY LIFE

Most Tomanians are Muslim in name only. Women tend to wear what Westerners would consider normal clothing. Headscarves are unusual. Veils are never seen. There are mosques. Imams have to co operate with the secret police if they are to be allowed to lead prayers. The country is more socially liberal than other Central Asian lands. A woman drinking or smoking is not controversial in a large city. Plenty of men and women go to nightclubs. This includes those who call themselves Muslims.

Alcohol is legally on sale everywhere as is pork. Pornography is not allowed. Religious wedding ceremonies have no legal standing.

Cohabitation is a taboo. Children are almost never born out of wedlock. Homosexual relationships are strongly disapproved of but are not illegal. People tend to marry in their twenties. Couples tend to have two children but in the countryside, especially the South, three or four children are common.

Gender roles tend to be strictly defined. Women can and do pursue all careers. However, women very rarely become the head of any organisation.

There is considerable contrast between the forward looking large cities and the conservatism of small villages. Remember this is a country of 2 400 000 km squared so there is a huge amount of diversity. The South of the country is almost exclusively ethnically Kazakh and is Kazakh speaking. People there tend to be observant Muslims. The north of the country is only half ethnically Kazakh and most people of any ethnicity speak Russian. Islam is more honoured in the breach than in the observance there even by those who call themselves Muslims.

Tomanians tend to be conventional. Short back and sides is the norm for men. Facial hair is rare. Tomanians are obsessed with good shoes and tidy houses. Men often favour machismo. Weight lifters, boxers and wrestlers are adulated. The country is not good at team sports. Interestingly, they have many American basketball players there.

Links with Russia are emphasised. People often watch Russian TV and follow Russian culture. Victory Day 9 May is a huge affair. People walk around in the Second World War era uniforms. The Day of the Army follows on 11 May and the two events are almost elided. Sometimes you might be forgiven for thinking the USSR has not come to an end.

The education system is very much on the Soviet model. People can do their entire education through Russian. There is much emphasis on rote learning. Maths is considered the queen of subjects. In secondary school it takes up about a quarter of the timetable.

There is compulsory military service for boys. Those who attend university are excused. Bullying for new recruits is severe. Savage beatings are commonplace.

There is a small Western expatriate community in Apple and Capital. There are some oil workers in the Caspian towns. They are British and Italian for the most part. Anything British is fashionable. Prince Andrew spent much time in the country. He sold his house for a well over the odds price to a Tomanian. Some say this was a disguised bribe. Sir Norman Foster designed much of the Capital.

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CURRENT SITUATION

Not many Tomanians seek work abroad.

There is an elite. They are mostly former members of the nomenklatura. In that sense remarkably little has change since the Soviet era. People who once professed communism are not rapacious capitalists.

Nepotism and raking off are rampant. The senior ranks in the government and many companies go to those with mighty relatives. The Russian blat system operates. As in many former Soviet countries cretins can be appointed to top roles if they are related to rich or influential people. For instance the boss of a major multinational cannot speak English. People can often recite their ancestors in the male line back several generations. This is to ensure they do not marry close blood relatives.

Huge amounts of public money has disappeared. It has gone to the Bank of Nowhere. The super affluent stash their money in bank accounts abroad. They also buy properties in other countries. They have their children educated abroad since no university in the country has a good international reputation. Very little money trickles down to the working class.

A job in the secret police is a job for life. Some people get in through excellence and some through family connections. There are a few diplomats who cannot speak English and behave disgracefully. People who work in high ranking state positions in the police, the judiciary, the civil service or state owned enterprises have it made. They can rotate from one branch of the state to another. Former secret service officers have the pick of government jobs. The system is very akin to Russia. Cronies from national security are appointed to other government agencies even when they have no relevant experience. This is all about having relatives in key posts because blood is thicker than water. Relatives can be trusted to be faithful if not competent.

The super rich live in compounds. They are surrounded by armed guards. There is very little violent crime. This insistence on being accompanied by armed men is largely ostentation.

It is possible to buy any qualification for enough money. Naturally there are plenty of hard working and brainy people who earn their qualifications honestly.

The ruling party is called Resplendent Fatherland. This party is an echo chamber for Shalimar’s pronouncements. It has no ideology as such. It is little more than Shalimar’s fan club. In all but formal designation this is a one party state. In that sense the country is even more tightly controlled than Azerbaijan. State paranoia does not reach the deranged levels of Turkmenistan at least. Shalimar rules more like an absolute monarch than an elected president.

The press is muzzled. The judiciary always returns verdicts that are satisfactory to Shalimar. There is an English language newspaper – the Capital Times. It has some Tomanians working for it. The native Anglophone journalists suspect that these Tomanians are spies.

Neighbouring Kyrgzstan had two revolutions in the past decade. This set a worrying precedent. The government is taking no chances. In that country there was also a woman as president. Oh horror of horrors!

Shalimar brought the presidential election forward by a year.  His slogans were ”stability and unity.” In April 2014 he was re elected by a thumping 98%. Many Tomanians do not recognise this for the charade it is. One employee of a semi state company told the author she felt her job obliged her to vote for the president. His opponents were a candidate from the Ecology Party and one from the Communist Party. A country that makes all its money from fossil fuels is not going to favour an environmentalist. Opposition parties were permitted to put up posters but not hold rallies. The main opposition party did not field a candidate. The two rival candidates are loyal officials of the government. It is suspected they stood to provide the pretence of opposition.

The President held the election early because he knew the economy was going down the tubes. No sooner was the election over than he announced the need for cut backs.

In October 2015 the government reintroduced the death penalty but only for paedophiles. Why did the government take this retrograde, demagogic and savage step? Presumably it was to distract people from the real issues by satisfying the lynch mob element of the public. To date no executions have taken place.

Resplendent Fatherland stresses the new economy plan called ”The Shining Path”. This is supposed to speed up development and ensure a better standard of living for all. In the light of diminishing petro chemical revenues this plan will be hard to sustain.

Shalimar’s image is everywhere. He has even had his likeness cast into an iron relief sculpture on Independence Square. Many institutions are named in his honour. The media are required to act as cheer leaders for him. His appetite for exaltation knows no bounds. He is immune from scrutiny.

There is no sign of Shalimar going anywhere despite his advanced age. He has three grown up daughters and several grandchildren. There is a rumour that he has younger wives and more children with them. His eldest daughter is divorced. Her ex husband is persona non grata.

Shalimar is known to have a genuinely warm relationship with V V.

A waiter of Shalimar’s said that he has great admiration for the late Lee Kuan Yew. He has read ”From third world to first.” Shalimar emulate’s Lee’s authoritarianism. There are many key differences between the two countries. One is gigantic and the other is tiny. One has plentiful natural resources and the other has none. The climates are diametrically different. Lee did not insist on an endless diet of sycophancy. Singapore has the rule of law. It made itself an entrepot. The country has no financial services industry to speak of despite the attempt to found a bourse. The super rich do not trust their country’s banks.

Who will come next? The word on the street is that his nephew Samat will succeed him. Samat is the son of his younger brother Bolat.

One of the few creditable policies that Shalimar has pursued it to found school named in his honour. These teach in English, Russian and Tomanian. Pupils are selected on merit. He also offers scholarships to people to study in universities abroad.

Universities in the country remain poorly funded except for Shalimar University. Moreover, degrees can be bought in most of them.

The country has a decent airline. It has its own banks. However, it has attracted very few customers from abroad. Al Hilal Bank set up there last year and has almost foundered.

Government informers are everywhere. A Canadian teacher was deported for being a Jehovah’s witness. A Tomanian woman reported her Italian husband for possessing marijuana. He is serving 20 years in prison..

The country still has a space station.

The nation has a decent airline and a bad one too. The bad one is the oddly named Stingray.

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ECONOMY

Tomania has brought in builders from India and Palestine. Why would such a country need to bring in tradesmen from other countries?

Salaries are very low for most people. Teachers are paid as little as $200.

China is investing heavily. The country is part of the Silk Road strategy. There are plenty of British business executives there. There is Beijing Tower in Capital. The Chinese state investment house ENOCC is there.

It is notable that the Prime Minister is a China specialist. He studied in Hubei and is fluent in Mandarin. Tomania is part of the country’s silk road strategy. The PM’s daughter goes to Miras.

Why is Tomania cultivating China? This is partly because it seems Russia’s power waning. Moreover, they need an alternative partner in case relations with Moscow sour.

The economy has stagnated. Shalimar gave an order last year to finish current projects and then stop. The currency lost half its value in 2015.

The long term prognosis is grim. 9/10 dollars earned comes from hydocarbons. The country has other minerals. It also has huge amounts of land but not much of it is suitable for arable farming. Solar power, wind power and hydorelectric power are all abundant especially in relation to the size of the population.

Tomania started advertising heavily for investment. It offers all sorts of incentives. This smacks of desperation.

 

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FOREIGN POLICY.

Shalimar is keen to retain a good relationship with Russia. This is partly a case of – if you cannot beat them, join them. The country has a very long border with Russia. Tomania cannot defend this frontier. There is a large Russian community in the country. Moscow could easily provoke and incident to provide and excuse to attack.

The country has a cordial relationship with China.

Iran has also buttered up Tomania. The Iranian foreign minster visited in 2015 and emphasised the need to stand together against the depredations of the West.

 

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PROGNOSIS

The future does not look bright. Unless oil prices increase dramatically then the country is in deep trouble. The population is increasing at a fairly fast pace. The government will have trouble providing for its people.

People have been indoctrinated to believe that Shalimar is a superb and wise president. There has been progress under him. The state media reminds them what has happened in other countries in recent years when revolutions have occurred or been attempted. Despite the economic downturn there is every possibility that Shalimar will rule for as long as he is healthy and then his handpicked heir after that. This will likely be his nephew Samat who is the head of the secret service. Several Soviet leaders or post Soviet leaders have been former spooks. Among them Andropov, Cherenenko, Putin and Aliyev. Note that the likely successor has the surname Abish despite being the son of Shalimar’s brother. In this country it is not uncommon to give one’s children a different surname to oneself.

 

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About Calers

Born Belfast 1971. I read history at Edinburgh. I did a Master's at UCL. I have semi-libertarian right wing opinions. I am married with a daughter and a son. I am allergic to cats. I am the falling hope of the not so stern and somewhat bending Tories. I am a legal beagle rather than and eagle. Big up the Commonwealth of Nations.

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