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» 06/25/2009
KAZAKHSTAN
President Nazarbayev celebrates 20 years of power
He came to power as Secretary of the Communist Party, a close associate of Gorbacev, he managed to always hold on to power. Opponents say he has crushed the nascent democracy. But others praise him for the economic development and stability of the country.

Astana (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The president of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, on June 22 celebrated the 20 years leading the country, since he was elected secretary of the Communist Party in 1989. In the largest and richest state in Central Asia, he is considered by some an autocrat who wiped-out the nascent democracy and freedom, while others claim he has ensured stability and prosperity through difficult years.

Nazarbayev, a steel worker in the north, made progress in the Communist Party, to become part of the  narrow circle of then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbacev.

After the fall of the Soviet regime in 1990 he was elected president. In 1995, in a single stroke, he dissolved parliament and called a quick referendum, which approved the extension of his mandate for years. He then held a referendum that took various powers from parliament, to the benefit of the President, and eliminated other limits to his authority, such as the Constitutional Court.

In the elections of 1989 his main opponent, Akezhan Kazhegeldin, was disqualified for taking part in a opposition march. Nazarbayev won with 89% of the votes. The parliament also extended the presidential term from 5 to 7 years.

In 2005 he again won with 91% of the votes, even though international observers have criticized the elections of not respecting democratic standards. He then had the option of maintaining the position without time limits approved.

But for many among the millions of young people under 20 years of age in the country, Nazarbayev is the only leader they have ever known, who has led Kazakhstan to stability and a much greater wealth compared to other Central Asian states, also rich in oil, gas and other resources. Many say they are interested in their future and economic development of the country, rather than politics. The revenues of oil have been invested in health, pensions, social security and education. The country is now a destination for migrants from neighboring states in search of work. Here, religious communities have a discreet freedom, although the State is criticized by evangelical groups.

But the main opposition leader Pyotr Svoik tells Radio Free Europe that the president has crushed the nascent Kazakh democracy, favored widespread corruption and nepotism, enriched his circle to the detriment of the nation. He comments that "Kazakhstan has no independent institution: Parliament, courts, prosecution and government only serve one person. The future of the country's political system is truly bleak and frightening”.  The state shows intolerance toward independent media and is implementing increasing control over the Internet.

 In recent years many political opponents and journalists have been arrested, beaten and even killed. It is also true that his "enlightened dictatorship" is the most liberal of countries of former Soviet Central Asia. Above all, these criticisms do not scratch the reputation of the President, at home and abroad. Indeed, he is courted by foreign countries hungry for Kazakh oil, who see him as a much more presentable leader than the presidents of neighbouring countries like Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Companies from Russia, China and the United States here have invested billions of Euros. For 2010, Astana is competing even to take the chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), although recent human rights groups have denounced the inexistence of essential democratic standards in the country.

 


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See also
04/04/2011 KAZAKHSTAN
Presidential election, Nazarbayev wins with 95% of the votes
05/10/2007 RUSSIA – CENTRAL ASIA
Putin in Central Asia to discuss oil, gas and uranium
12/02/2005 KAZAKHSTAN
Kazakhstan set to choose a president on 4 December
03/03/2010 KAZAKHSTAN – EUROPE
Kazakh oil to reach Trieste
02/04/2011 KAZAKHSTAN
President Nazarbayev sets 3 April for his re-election

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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