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The BBC's Rayhan Demytrie introduces us to her adopted country, Kazakhstan, and three remarkable people she's met there.
Having spent the happiest years of her life in the countryside, film-maker Zhanna Issabaeva is concerned at the growing gulf between rural and urban Kazakhstan. She tells us how the harsh beauty she experienced as a child later influenced her award-winning film about village life, Karoy.
In 1938, when she was 22 years old, Anna Grigorievna was arrested and sent to a gulag in the Kazakh steppe. She tells us how she endured eight years of forced labour, and marvels at the transformation of the region which is now home to the sparkling new capital, Astana.
The former capital of Kazakhstan, Almaty, is surrounded by mountains. As a young man, Kazbek Valiev conquered the highest peaks in the former Soviet Union. He went on to become the first Kazakh to climb Mount Everest. He takes Rayhan up into the mountains above Almaty, and shares with her his stories of danger and triumph.
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