, ASTANA, Dec 1 – Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov on Wednesday said he was perfectly happy with revelations on leaked US diplomatic cables which showed him to be a tireless nightclub dancer.
Amid the diplomatic furore over the leaked cables on website WikiLeaks, Masimov told Agence-France Presse in an interview that he was one of few world leaders to have been untroubled by the unusual glimpse behind the scenes.
As well as recounting the lavish lifestyle of the Kazakh elite, the cables described Masimov visiting a posh Astana nightclub with his retinue, including his wife, and then energetically dancing on an empty stage alone.
"I like it very much," Masimov told AFP at the government headquarters in the showpiece new capital Astana on the sidelines of the OSCE summit.
"First I am on the Internet with my wife. I like dancing with my wife and to advertise in the traditional way I have to pay a lot of money for that."
"But this time it\’s free. And I am very happy for that."
According to the leaked cables Masimov showed unusual energy for a head of government. "His companions quickly tired but Masimov remained, dancing alone and animatedly on the stage for another 15-20 minutes."
Masimov said that the WikiLeaks scandal was part of a huge change in the media landscape where "traditional media does not exist any more" due to the shift to the Internet.
The prime minister touted that he championed the Internet in a region not known for its openness by opening a blog where anyone, including opposition media, can post their views.
Kazakhstan, despite its energetic chairmanship of the OSCE this year, has been criticised by rights groups for passing laws deemed to restrict the flow of information in the press and the Internet.
But Masimov said that in two years electronic media would be creating a completely new environment in Kazakhstan.
"The idea that politicians can manage information through the mass media does not exist anymore. I am committed to promoting this," he said.