The cities of the five former Soviet ‘Stans’ have been dominated by the personalities of their authoritarian rulers – but in Kazakhstan’s old capital of Almaty, at least, something new is afoot

From his office on the 20th floor of an Almaty tower, Ruslan Assaubayev outlines a vision for a new kind of city. Newly pedestrianised streets, a network of bike lanes and bus lanes, and modernised public transport are all part of a five-year plan developed in coordination with western consultants and implemented by the Almaty Development Centre, a governmental organisation of which Assaubayev is the deputy head.

Downstairs, brightly coloured logos adorn the white walls of the Open Almaty centre, a new branch of the mayoralty where locals can come and address questions or complaints to civil servants.

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