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Authoritarian Kazakh leader hits movie screens

- Associated Press - Thursday, April 14, 2011

ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN (AP) - Riding high on a crest of government-nurtured adulation, Kazakhstan's strongman leader has now become a star of the silver screen.

"The Sky of My Childhood," released Thursday in Kazakhstan, charts the early life of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who last week won a presidential election with an astonishing 95 percent of the vote. International observers have criticized the election for ballot-box stuffing and said authorities coerced many into voting.

Nazarbayev makes brief appearances in the movie, while three actors play him at different stages of his childhood.

The movie portrays him as a cheerful and earnest child, growing up in relative hardship as the son of a shepherd.

Critics say such exercises are part of attempts to build a cult of personality around Nazarbayev.

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