Usually something that has just been founded experiences the most exciting period at the
very beginning. At an early stage of its existence, KIMEP resembled a laboratory where people
were trying to learn Western economics, but hardly really understood what it
The fall of 1993 was exceptionally remarkable. It was the beginning of the market reforms all over the former Soviet Union. Everything was new for us.
Most of us met foreigners for the first time. Almost nobody knew English. One of
my countrymen met a group of Americans. He told them: “How
do you do?” (He thought that it was a question). They replied “How do you do?” He said again “How do you do?”
and they repeated the same words again.
Finally, he said “Oh, you don’t know English!”
We did not just study but also had lots of fun. There was (and I hope, still there is!) a
bar in the Fun Club. As students of KIMEP each of us were given coupons with the value of 10 tenge
for which we could buy three cans of beer or three gin & tonic beverages. The last beverage
became my favorite for that semester.
Usually we were not satisfied by this amount of alcohol and since it was prohibitively expensive to buy it in the bar we brought it with us. This fact was
not appreciated by the administration of the FC. I should mention that the situation at
FC was very informal compared to the one in the next years. Liberte, Fraternite et Egalite.
We got together every weekend. My group was especially friendly. Sometimes I thought how hard it
would be to leave this institute, my group, Almaty.
Students from Yakutia played a significant role in our class. I remember the competition for the title
of “The Man of KIMEP” which was won by my countryman Andrei Skryabin. Another countryman Dmitry Dyachkovsky was
one of the finalists.
We occupied a room # 425 in the dorm. From the windows we could see mountains. Sometimes, when I
would wake up I would see the mountains covered by snow and I would feel much better. For people from Kazakhstan there is nothing surprising to see this
beauty but for me it was something! We knew nothing about Kazakhstan at the time. Once
we were near KIMEP just behind the statue of Abai. A girl and a boy with camera approached us and asked few questions. “Do you think that Abai was a genius of Kazakh people?” Everybody in our group did not know Abai at
the time. Neither did I. But I said: “Sure, I am positive that Abai is the best!” We even did not know that the statue was of Abai. Next day
during the exam I heard two students who were sitting behind me saying that students
from Yakutia know Kazakh history and Abai very well and that one of them saw it on TV.
One event was remarkable. It was the concert in October of 1993 when the Yakutian group presented the dance of Cranes.
Alexander Uarov (now he is a Vice Chairman in our Parliament) was a crane with
heavy makeup and a costume! He had absolutely no selfishness. We called him “Pappy” and
felt quite comfortable around him.
I have very warm memories about the first generation of KIMEP. They entered KIMEP
during the Soviet period and they graduated from the institute during the market times.
That time was tough but nonetheless they were very friendly. Once I lived with four
rubles in my pocket for one month. At this time the bus fare was five rubles. But since I had
lots of friends in the dorm I was never hungry. It was then when I tasted the Kazakh
cuisine (plov, lagman and beshparmak) for the first time in my life.
After Yakutian winter the winter in Almaty was surprising for us. I even did not wear
a hat. In fact, after living in many places I can confirm that winter in Almaty is very mild and easy going. The only place where
winter is as good as in Almaty is Anchorage, Alaska. For example, winter in Kansas or France is much worse for me since it is very humid and windy there.
Finally, I wish KIMEP at its 10 year anniversary to keep old traditions and acquire new ones in order to maintain the status of the leading institution in Central Asia. I hope that
somehow I will visit Almaty again.