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The meeting with the mayor has split the Kazakh blogger community. Those who had not received an invitation to the event accused the invited bloggers of being “venal” or “corrupt”. One of the detained individuals, Aitelenov, tweeted one day before the meeting: I hope at least some of the bloggers attending a lunch meeting with Esimov have taken out their wallets and paid for their food?
Several social media users found it strange that the bloggers who had frequently criticized the Almaty mayor were dining with him at one of the city’s most expensive restaurants, apparently at his expense.
Some netizens interpreted the meeting as a deliberate tactic by the mayor to divide the blogger community and improve his own image.
Blogger Ernar Prediktor suggests [ru] that the Kazakh public views bloggers as “just and independent”. He argues that the meeting with “not the most prominent or popular” bloggers was part of the Almaty mayor’s public relations campaign: You have been used, guys. They have used the blogger’s public image for their own benefit. Now they will claim everywhere that the mayor is good and democratic, that he easily meets with the representatives of the residents of Almaty and solves problems jointly with them, etc.
But those who attended the meeting and some of their followers on social media sites thought the event was useful.
Judging by the bloggers’ meeting with Esimov, he has made a good impression and evoked their empathy.