His British Lordship, the 3rd Viscount Waverley, has now alighted in Turkmenistan, continuing his intrepid adventures across the barren lands of Central Asia.
He was last spotted in Kazakhstan giving the thumbs-up to the recent elections there in which incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbayev won with over 95 percent of the vote.
Lord Waverley -- a.k.a. John Desmond Anderson -- started his three-day visit by signing a memorandum of understanding between the parliamentary deputies of the United Kingdom and Turkmenistan, according to a British Embassy press release.
The MOU covers all kinds of woolly areas like "inter-parliamentary dialogue" and the "ideals of democracy and good governance" (clearly one of Turkmenistan’s -- and the unelected Lord Waverley’s -- strong suits). But look through the list and you will find more pressing issues like energy are also included. This seems wildly optimistic though, seeing how negligible a role mere deputies have in drafting Turkmen policy.
British Ambassador Keith Allan said the MOU would "present an opportunity for parliamentarians from Turkmenistan and the UK to share experience and knowledge for the mutual benefit of both countries."
Back home, Lord Waverley chairs the Central Asia parliamentary group and has been busy putting out feelers in the region over the past few months: "My decision to create individual country groups at Westminster was deliberate, believing that the countries of the region must express their interests and find their voice recognizing the contribution of Central Asia countries to regional and geopolitical stability, including that of Afghanistan," the press release quotes him as saying.
Reporting on Lord Waverley's stint as an “independent” election observer in Kazakhstan, British newspaper The Telegraph noted that his return flight to Astana and the $500-a-night stay in the Rixos Hotel was paid for by the Athens-based Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC).
CCC, which Lord Waverley worked for as a consultant, has won contracts for "the Kashagan and Karachaganak oilfields, the two biggest projects with British involvement in Kazakhstan," the Telegraph reported in its hard-hitting expose.
So is the sweets cartel paying for this junket?
The British Embassy press release notes that Lord Waverly's visit has so far included a trip to a licorice factory in the northeastern town of Turkmenabat.