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  • » 06/25/2009, 00.00

    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

    16/02/2015
    Astana, ruling party calls for early Presidential election
    An early election, before the end of President Nazarbayev’s mandate (2016), would reconfirm the leader who has ruled the country for 26 years and eliminate any speculation about his succession.

    04/04/2011 KAZAKHSTAN
    Presidential election, Nazarbayev wins with 95% of the votes
    Early polls show an overwhelming consensus for the outgoing Head of State. 90% of those eligible participated in the election, compared to 76% of the previous presidential election in 2007. The former Communist leader states "well-being" more important than "democracy."

    10/05/2007 RUSSIA – CENTRAL ASIA
    Putin in Central Asia to discuss oil, gas and uranium
    Russia wants to consolidate political and energy ties with Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan and keep its control over the region’s energy. But Turkmen leader Berdymukhamedov is keeping his cards close to his chest, inviting Chevron into the country. Kazakh leader Nazarbayev also intensifies relations with the West.

    02/12/2005 KAZAKHSTAN
    Kazakhstan set to choose a president on 4 December

    Despite "residue" from the one-time Soviet dictatorship, Kazakhstan is a model of democracy and freedom of worship for Central Asia.



    03/03/2010 KAZAKHSTAN – EUROPE
    Kazakh oil to reach Trieste
    The presidents of Kazakhstan and Romania look at how oil from the Caucasus could reach the Black Sea for transhipment to Romania’s sea port of Constanţa and then Trieste. Kazakhs want to reduce their dependence on Moscow. Romanians want to become the gateway to Europe.



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