Performing politicians – Hidden Talents

July 7th, 2016 Sections: From an Expat, News

We seem to be getting used to the image of Action Man Presidents and Prime Ministers … from Russia’s Putin to Canada’s Justin Trudeau, that it can be difficult for other, less sporting or less talented politicians to make their mark … that doesn’t, however, stop them trying.

Over the weekend we were treated to the release over the internet of a video clip featuring Almazbek Atambaev, President of Kyrgyzstan, performing a song that he, himself, had written.  Who would have thought of him as a singer, a songwriter … a singer-songwriter.

It certainly caught the Kyrgyz population by surprise … but it was one of those ‘pleasant surprises’ because it turns out that they quite liked his efforts.

Actually, I thought it was quite good … although, perhaps, something of an acquired taste, but fitting in with a musical tradition that was quite common here in Soviet times.  It also reminded me of several other, Western, singers.

When he is not being Presidential, he is more known as a businessman (… one of Kyrgyzstan 100 richest people …) and as an author … having put pen to paper, (or fingers to keyboard?), many years ago – andit used to be claimed that this is (at least in part) where he started to amass his fortune.

Actually, the Kyrgyz quite like their poets and singers … performers and National Artists … and so forth … erecting statues and other monuments, opening museums in their honour, putting their portraits on banknotes and stamps … appointing them and electing them to office.


Now, the cynics among us may look askance at politicians who decide to perform – either acting or making music.  It can appear to be nothing more than an attempt to grab the headlines, or to court popularity by fostering a public image and ‘cashing in’ on the popularity of various performers … or perhaps as an attempt to divert attention away from some other, (less welcome news), news.

It has to be admitted, however, that there is a strong tradition of performing Presidents and Prime Ministers …

Nursultan Nazarbaev, President of neighboring Kazakhstan, is  a keen musician who used to perform on traditional instrements … and recently, President Putin appeared at the keyboard, singing a song –

… and it all started with an appearance at a charity concert:

Barack Obama has also done so from time to time:

… while President Bill Clinton was famous for playing the Saxaphone:

… and a number of Presidents have been talented performers ion their own rights … Richard Nixon even writing and performing a Piano Concerto …

The quip about the Republicans not wanting another Piano player in the White House, was a refernce to the last Democratic President – Harry S. Truman – who was known for ‘tickling the ivories’ … who, as a child, had spent two hours a day practicing – every day.

America even elected a Hollywood actor to their highest office … another as Governor of California … and a number of others as members of Congress …

…and back in Britain, even Margaret Thatcher got in the act, writing and starring in a skit in 1984 based on the TV comedy series Yes Minister:



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