To Clip the Wings of the Golden Eagle

On the Non-Democracy of Kazakhstan

“All the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcize this spectre […] and […] ” —Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 1848

…The spectre haunting Europe was for some time no more than the consolidation of pre-existing ideals. It was a mere voice of reform uttered by two German expatriates, whose amalgamation of concepts gallivanted across the Continent wearing a crimson sheet and wielding a gilded hammer and gilded sickle—the peasant-child’s ‘Hallows Eve costume-ball guise. Though, the most efficient way of evoking some revolution—and alteration of man’s governing pace—is to first evoke in the hearts of all men a false familiarity; to convince everyone that they have long been acquainted with the concept in question, which, otherwise, would not even be permitted by their prejudicial ears and discriminating eyes to enter their sleeping minds. (And a child, in no matter what character’s garb, always seems to us, too, a familiar face to welcome.) Then, secondly to impregnate the publics’ hearts with the seed of fear—such fear as the youth, the red ghoul, brings—, to sow in the collective conscience the oats of misunderstanding (all the while occurring simultaneously with the false familiarity), and in finality to reap using the scythe of manipulation and the barrow of exploitation the desired crop of the converted. It is no surprise then, that the Russian Empire was the first of European nations, indeed, any nations, to successfully harvest the bitter produce of Communism—they always were an empire of adept agricultural undertaking and economy. By grace of the expanse of that territory whose borders have in time-recent seemed but only in subtlety to diminish, the spectre has ran across the world, and though called back home by Mother(-Country), the devilish fellow—that little ghost—has torn up all of the neighbours’ yards. He has torn them up only after taking from each the candy which made them all so sweet.

Kazakhstan, of the former Soviet republics—a Central Asian state—is but one of the many states recovering from (or, suffering without?) the yoke of Communist rule, and Soviet Socialist federation. Though the country is today officially independent, and officially democratic, it is nestled as an enclave within nothing but former- and presently-Communist—or, Communist-offshoots, such as Marxist, Leninist, Maoist, et cetera—governments. Its constitutional revisions and introductions are questionable in their legality, as is the nature of national elections there; and the President—who has been Kazakhstan’s highest-ranking government official since awhile before the nation’s independence, and still—is often internationally regarded as an authoritarian leader who has ensured that totalitarianism rules his territorial charge. Herein, the recent political history of Kazakhstan as a non-democracy will be explored, while examining the nations’ persons in power; its authoritarian mechanisms; the key events of the present non-democratic regime; its geopolitical relations; the perceived outlook for the future; and Kazakhstan’s transition to actual democracy. Underlying this examination will be evidence presented allowing the reader to ascertain just how Kazakhstan became non-democratic; the length of time it has been so; the key figures and events determining the authoritarian nature of the state; the period of power, and the maintenance of that power. Despite Kazakhstan’s declaration of its independence from the Soviet Union upon the fall of that superpower, it has been quite evident that that nation still exercises a dependency on its totalitarian forebear in that it mirrors the very same policies and corruption so rampant in Moscow during much of its history. Kazakhstan is still an emerging nation after more than a decade, albeit one with an admirable transitional economy partnered with a government of depleting accessibility.

The recent political history of Kazakhstan, in showing how its origins continue to influence contemporary conditions, may be said to commence at the collapse of—and dissipation of the interconnectivity of the republics of—the USSR in 1989. Following the literal destruction of the Wall (which separated the democratic West from the Communist East) in Europe, Kazakhstan, or, the KSSR—the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, its official name when an administrative division within the Soviet Union—in March of 1990, an election was initiated in that republic. Voting new members to Kazakhstan’s parliament, including Nursultan Nazarbayev—since then the President of Kazakhstan—the nation was then well on its way, it seemed to becoming fully democratic and independent of the Mother Land. Interestingly, Nazarbayev had been for some time a pre-eminent figure in the politics of the KSSR and when, in 1989, that all of the Soviet republics began to feel a collective mistrust and dissatisfaction toward Moscow, had been consulting various experts such as economists, diplomats, and executives in an effort to quietly prepare to declare Kazakh independence. What Nezarbayev had not expected was the eventual fall of the USSR that came, seemingly, just in time, before his bold announcement was to be made. With him not having to cause any stir in officially breaking away from the Union, Nazarbayev emerged as a sort of political folk hero and used his new-found popularity to win him the nation’s preliminary federal election—simultaneously a test-run of newly-acquired democracy, a desperate necessity, and an actual allocation of power—and hail him as the first (and to date, though illegally, only) President of that new nation.

Upon entering office, and it should be noted that Nazarbayev, in his—and the nation’s—first national election had won legitimately and without any questionable amount of votes, Nursultan immediately commenced the drafting of Kazakhstan’s new constitution (for it, like all other Soviet republics, had been using the most recent of each USSR constitution, the most recent at the time being the 1978 Soviet document). This constitution would not become ratified until 1993, and by that time, included clauses which ensured that the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers (akin to the Cabinet of any other nation) responsible only to the President, Nazarbayev. Lasting two years in that form, the constitution of Kazakhstan was again replaced in 1995 with one—drafted, yet again, by Nazarbayev—which built upon the powers and authority of the President’s Executive branch that had been introduced in the first.

Under the 1995 constitution, the power of the President to intervene in governmental and judicial issues was increased, while transforming Kazakhstan into a state of, essentially, complete, Presidential rule. The Council of Ministers assisted slightly in its revisions. By initiating a referendum, Nursultan ensured that the new supreme law of the land was passed popularly in August of that year. In an attempt, perhaps, to balance of obscure the massive amount of power granted to himself, Nazarbayev focused also on the inclusion of a substantial emphasis on the guarantees to equal rights and freedoms to all of the citizens of Kazakhstan, not dissimilar a method to that employed by the Soviets when drafting their 1978 constitution, which in theory and on paper, appeared quite perfect from a democratic—Western—stance, though in practice, only adhered to the clauses concerning concentration of power in one institution or individual.

One of the most relevant issues borne of this 1995 constitutional reformation was that of linguistics; as Canada has seen in its struggles with being a bilingual state, Kazakhstan has since been weighing the merits of operating (in theory) in two languages: Russian and Kazakh, both official, as deemed such in the new supreme law. In reality, Kazakhstan—through major Soviet immigration and deportation policies—is a nation whose own people are outnumbered by foreign visitors and displaced citizens; there are more Russians than Kazakhs in the former KSSR, and since each SSR was created on the sole basis of distributing ethnicities territorially, the nation is at odds culturally and certainly linguistically—regardless of whether Kazakhstan is an extant SSR or not, as an ethnic territory, it is alarming to observe that the territory possesses the least of its intended ethnicity in its history. The nation’s official language of educational instruction is Kazakh, while in order to be elected as a member of the nation’s parliament, one must speak Russian (with Kazakh being no alternative, merely an optional second language), which is in practice, the only language extant. Businesses and news programs and most communications operate solely in the language of the former oppressor, which naturally, worries the international community and the Kazakh people—a people still desirous of the separation from the Russians that they thought they had already obtained more than a decade ago.

Like all the constitutional reforms, it was a device dreamed up by Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is fluent in both languages, and himself, an ethnic Kazakh! Greatly limiting the access of the citizens to positions within administration and government, and since Russian is not the official language of education in the country (though Kazakhstan possesses institutions operative in either language, and even both, much as Canada’s Québec does), the language clause of the 1995 constitution is not the only reform of Nazarbayev’s that has propagated the corruption his nation has been subject to since its first contact with the Russians two centuries prior.

It was in 1995 that Nazarbayev began to change his Council of Ministers (his Cabinet) so that it included either members of his family, or close friends and business relations of his. Under, still, the 1995 constitution, the President is charged with role of Head of State, while serving after election for an absolute maximum of two consecutive terms, each lasting no less nor longer than half a decade. The Prime Minister, selected, just as the Council of Ministers is, by the President to serve him, is the chief of that Council. The other prominent body of the Executive in Kazakhstan is the controversial National Security Committee—a sketchy agency whose mandate cannot be definitively said to be either intelligence or defence, equated by reputation, secrecy, and intrigue to the USSR’s infamous KGB—whose chairperson is, too, appointed by the President. While Kazakhstan has a bicameral parliament, each house being called the Senate and the Majilis, respectively, there is virtually no opposition party represented. A feat recognised by Nazarbayev’s most recent, December 2005 election win by a startling 91.15%, whose daughter, coincidentally happens to be chief of the nation’s official state media outlet, and whose wife is seen as a Kazakh equivalent of Mira Markovic, ruthless leader Slobodan Milošević’s power(ful woman)-behind-the-throne. As will be examined shortly—in drawing another parallel between Milošević and Nazarbayev—Nursultan, in conservation of his power, has invariably kept it in the family.

An analysis of the controversial government practices extant in Kazakhstan obliges the researcher to acquaint his or her self with the ordeal of authoritarian mechanisms. While Nazarbayev can not yet be labelled a true dictator or Führer in practice, he appears clearly to be following in the footsteps of many of that title. The tool utilised by Nazarbayev in wielding his ever-increasing authority can be tabulated as a veritable checklist of totalitarian measures: ranging from media censorship—as mentioned, through the position Nazarbayev’s daughter holds as head of the nation’s state media outlet, controlling national newspapers, radio, television, and even the nation’s official and other websites—a highly apparent issue in Kazakhstan, where vocalists of political opinion (and opposition) often go ‘missing’ or have their publications seized or websites deleted, not dissimilar to China’s massive and continual expurgation of citizens’ internet expressions; to scarcity of transportation connections within the vast nation (it is, after all, the globe’s ninth-largest nation, larger than the whole of Western Europe—the Western freedom its government evades), which features, essentially, one highway for such a large territory, and a plethora of unpaved back roads, while airports are scarce and the ‘leading’ ones are outdated and miniscule, and the infrastructure of the entire nation is aging—remnants from the Soviet era—met with the fact that there is truly only one practical city, the former capital, Almaty (deemed too close by Nazarbayev upon entering office to the border Kazakhstan shares with Kyrgyzstan, who subsequently moved the capital to the present location of Astana, isolated and poorly laid out and connected in the Northern center of Kazakhstan), with the only somewhat-adequate transportation being the former Soviet rail system, which was overextended to confuse American spy planes during the Cold War (and has, by grace of that paranoiac excess, provided Kazakhstan with its largest network of connection, though it is haphazard); to concentration and consolidation of power within the Executive, as intimated by the description of Nazarbayev’s early commitments on entering federal leadership; Nazarbayev’s most notable mechanism of authoritarian governing is the appointment of his immediate family members (wife and three daughters) to government posts; similarly nationalist an endeavour, Nazarbayev has obsessively overhauled and replaced the corpus of Kazakhstans’ national symbols, insisting that the nation’s first flag upon receiving independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 feature a stylised Kazakhstan Golden Eagle in flight—a species of fowl native to Kazakhstan among its high mountains—in addition to the inclusion of a ‘national design’ which is a geometric pattern gracing the hoist edge of the national flag and all official documentation (and websites); Nazarbayev has also initiated a complete renaming of every settlement in the nation, most notably, as referenced, the moving and naming of the capital to Astana—meaning, plainly, “The Capital City” in Kazakh—and, interestingly, Nazarbayevs’ name changes reflect his native language, as opposed to the predominant Russian he has officially favoured in government. Subsequently, former capital and prestigious Central Asian city, Alma-Ata has been renamed Almaty and relegated to a mere cosmopolitan epicentre—the only city in Kazakhstan of prominence other than Astana, whose prominence is strictly a legality as being the capital—yet, Almaty remains the axis of commerce in the nation, being home to representatives of no less than every single Western oil corporation (for Kazakhstan is one of the most oil-rich nations on earth, as discovered only recently in the 1990s), every of its diplomatic representations (for other nations prefer Almaty to the inaccessible and unfinished Astana, and feel comfortable placing embassies in this otherwise, ‘Westernised’ city), and its most exciting nightlife.

Other mechanisms of the Nazarbayev government employed to control the people are limited mobility rights (in practice, though the 1995 constitution numbers mobility rights around its ‘perfect’ promises), hindering citizens from easily leaving the country, though citizens can easily enter it (in the best interest of promoting Western cash injection into the booming Kazakhstan oil industry), while Nursultan’s close-knit government also instituted a new national anthem and a reduced Judiciary, featuring a constitutional tribunal consisting of the President himself as a Justice. Despite the increasing notoriety and wealth of Kazakhstan, the federal government has opted out of many telecommunications upgrade opportunities and infrastructure improvements as well, leaving the citizens mere outdated and malfunctioning telephony to use, and scant electrification. It would appear that the greatest mechanism is that of selective improvement: Nazarbayev, seemingly without any discernible logic and mandate, chooses to greatly modernise and invest in Kazakhstan’s natural resources and visitors’ services (in urban regions only) while ignoring the non-existence of adequate roads (or roads at all between many settlements), the health problems of numerous citizens (an atrocity, considering that Kazakhstan was long the USSR’s nuclear dumping and test ground, as well as missile arsenal and space expedition launch site—the capital of pollution), as well as education and modernisation as a whole. Nazarbayev’s authoritarian mechanism stems from a desire to impress the outside world—a desire which overlooks any to assist in the evolution and emancipation of the ethnic Kazakh people, and even Kazakhstani citizens in general.

Facilitating these mechanisms is the timeline of key events for the Nazarbayev regime. Though the Nazarbayev saga commenced relatively recently, its precursor predates it by two centuries; the Russian Empire made initial contact with the Kazakh ethnicity in the early 1800s, sparking the establishment of a powerful foothold over the territory, which was at that time, valued as an asset of size more than anything else—the size of which helped to immediately and greatly expand Russias’ borders. The violent acquisition of what is today Kazakhstan initiated a sudden division of the territory into Russian administrative units, which was a political tactic to multiply the regions and nature of taxation, while simultaneously promoting Russian militia to high-ranking governing positions. This take-over heralded a period of Russo-rule which would last almost uninterrupted for nearly two hundred years.

In 1917, of course, the people of Russia itself revolted in Saint Petersburg against the Czar’s imperialism and ultimately replaced it violently with the Bolshevik government which developed into full Communism, and in turn, required the reform of the government structure of the entire, former empire. The imperial administrative divisions of what is now Kazakhstan were maintained by the Communist government of Russia until when in 1936, that government decided to overhaul the system of administrative divisions—the last remaining artefact of the Czar’s regime—and replaced it with a ‘simplified’ system which broke the entire former Russian Empire into not states or provinces, but Republics—seemingly autonomous governing microcosmic subsidiaries of the macrocosmic ‘Mother Country’ that were assigned on the basis of ethnic dispersal. Historically, long before the Russian foothold of the early 1800s, Central Asia had been the nomadic home of the Kazakh group, which had its own governing system—very similar to a tribal monarchy—and had even under the yoke of the Czar, persisted in living in the region, so naturally, when the Czars’ forces dismantled the Kazakh tribal government and replaced it with an imperial one, and when this branch of empire was made null under the Communist revolution, then the ASSR was born.

In 1936, when the Soviet Socialist Republics—and in entirety, the collective bodies as a whole USSR—were born, Kazakhstan was called Kirghiz ASSR, or Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Kirghiz (Kazakh was an unsatisfactory name to use, since it was often confused by the Communist government of Russia with its own word, Cossack). This marked another important milestone in the legacy of authoritarian rule in what is today called Kazakhstan: this was the first instance of quasi-independence that this territory had experienced. Though the Kazakhs were a historically nomadic group, the USSR insisted they remain within their respective SSR, which soon gained the name KSSR, dropping the autonomous, though not as the new name may imply, any autonomous privilege; in fact, the KSSR became a pivotal political bargaining chip among the management of the USSR between 1927 and 1937, when the Communist leaders in Moscow insisted on utilising the scarcely-populated territory as extra living space for an overpopulating Western Russia. Thus, the ‘Virgin Lands’ policy was born, where, not dissimilar to the expulsion of Jews in Nazi Germany, many Russian citizens were quite arbitrarily plucked from their homes, and not, though in any genocidal mania, sent away for good—to live in the empty Kazakhstan, populated with a scant sampling of ethnic Kazakhs (scant, considering the territory that the Communist government of Russia, or, the USSR, assigned to the ethnicity was far too large realistically). Arriving by train-loads, just as countless Jews did at Auschwitz, the ethnic Russians were simply left on their own with the government mandate of being required to cultivate the comparatively arid land. This commenced the massive influx of non-Kazakh citizens of this USSR unit—a growing number of citizens under subjected to further ludicrous expectations and control from Moscow. The Soviets proceeded to enforce a strict Communist policy of atheism and sameness, disregarding the human dignity and right to freedom of opinion and expression of that opinion, and assigned roles for each citizen to fulfill, mainly agricultural and industrial ones.

With a population built, the next defining political and cultural event in the timeline of Kazakhstan’s authoritarian rule was the revival of the ‘Virgin Lands’ policy between 1953 and 1965 (for, the policy, once the KSSR started developing its industry and lands, had been postponed, though none other than Nikita Khrushchev re-implemented it), which saw more dissatisfaction among locals, and yet more (forced) emigration. This swell of population—a population which had no desire to be there—cause the citizens of KSSR to not revolt—for they would be immediately quashed by USSR forces—to slack of, so to speak. This intentional degradation of the quality of their forced work caused Moscow to notice major economic hindrances and overall economic failure to stem from Kazakhstan.

By the early 1980s, economic failure in the KSSR had been all-encompassing and led indirectly to rising tensions in the whole of the USSR (for most other SSRs had experienced either the same protest-through-‘laziness- experienced in the KSSR, or outright disputes) and a two-tier solution was required. On the ‘national’ level of the USSR, new heads of government were ‘elected’ as were advisors and government ministers, while the same occurred on the republic level in the KSSR. An ethnic Russian was appointed chief of the KSSR which only intensified negative intimations in Kazakhstan, and by 1989, nationalism was the by-word of Kazakh description. The principles of nationalism had entirely overtaken that republic, and when the Russian-appointed KSSR leader was called to Moscow in that year, he never returned, though Nursultan Nazarbayev did, and has led the KSSR through to the demise of the USSR (and KSSR, in turn), and now controls Kazakhstan, the leftover nation still plagued by an unbalanced population and questionable laws and policies, though its economy has miraculously soared since separation from the Soviet Mother—so, it seems, the ‘laziness’ of the workers was quite a decoy. Much to Russia’s chagrin, oil was ‘discovered’ in—moreover, announced to have been found by—Kazakhstan not too long after that nation was its own and safe from Russian control.

Following the separation of the KSSR from the USSR in 1991, the 1993 constitution (Kazakhstan’s first), followed by the 1995 revised constitution (the most authoritarian yet), the most recent benchmark made in the progression (or regression?) or Kazakhstan into an authoritarian state has been the 2005 federal election, which very unequally elected Nazarbayev—again—exceeding his constitutionally-furnished amount of consecutive terms. The most recent international influence in Kazakhstan’s political timeline would have to be the increase in American fascination in the Kazakhstani oil reserves, and the American injection of an already substantial amount of cash into the nation, if not merely by oil exploration, then by payment of hospitality services—a growing industry in Kazakhstan—such as hotels, entertainment, transportation, and dining for the rich American businessmen—and Canadian businessmen—who frequent the nation.

Such an illustrious political timeline of key events warrants, without doubt, considerable interaction with neighbouring nations. Coming to the ordeal of Kazakhstan’s geopolitical relations, there are two nation which have a precedence, in practice, over all other in treating with the Kazakhstani government: China and Russia—the two largest neighbours of Kazakhstans’ borders, almost surrounding the entire nation—have more daily undertakings with Kazakhstan than any other nations do. It is interesting, as mentioned quite earlier, that Kazakhstan is surrounded by either former Communist nations or currents ones (the current being China), and Russia being the most famous former, alongside fellow former-SSRs, Uzebekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia (which was an SSR before the current sovereign state it is now). Relations with China are as strong as they are with Russia, with Kazakhstan containing in its population more ethnic Russians and Chinese than ethnic Kazakh. Stemming from this ethno-cultural relation is a collection of similar interests; China, also rich in minerals and resources, and attempting to shift from Communism to democracy (though both the Kazakhstani and Chinese transitions are less than actual), shares assistance with Kazakhstan, which in turn, offers it financial support, while China is also one of the largest importers of Kazakhstani wheat (after Russia), and a Kazakhstani oil pipeline to China is underway.

These political and economic partnerships exist also between Russia and Kazakhstan, with Russia, too, importing much of Kazakhstan’s wheat, and having a great interest in the oil potentials. There is some conflicting support from the United States—which has since the mid-1990s been very adamant about improving diplomacy between its superpower and the emerging oil-superpower of Nazarbayev’s government. The United States has qualms about the Communist-chequered past of Kazakhstan, particularly the Soviet history and ongoing reciprocal relations of Russo-Kazakh trade, as well as Chinese-Kazakh trade. It is also worthy of note that Canada is the fourth key player in the Kazakhstani political saga. While Canada is subtle—almost hesitant—in its contributions to Nazarbayev’s government financially, the Canadian government was the first—not the American government—Western government to jump on the Kazakhstani oil bandwagon. There are presently more American oil companies represented in Kazakhstan, though Canadian representatives were the first there, and continue to negotiate fuel distribution with Nazarbayev. Canada, an ample producer of wheat itself, works closely with Kazakhstan—just as Canada had with the USSR—in the dealing of agricultural trade and conferences. Essentially, Russia—which leases its former Baikonur Cosmodrome (the USSR’s spaceport from which the first satellite in history was launched, and the first manned planetary orbit was conducted) from Kazakhstan for hundreds of millions of United States dollars each year in an effort to help support the developing nation and to retain rights to its once-envied technological asset—is Kazakhstan’s most influential relation and the issue of nuclear warheads being distributed on the black market from Kazakhstan or from Russia to Kazakhstan is debated, though, ahead of Russia, Kazakhstan was the first nation on Earth (and, first former USSR republic) to completely disarm itself of nuclear capability, though, as mentioned, the nation was the primary nuclear development site during the Soviet years, with many old missile assembly facilities, test ranges, and launch pads still extant. The second most important relation Kazakhstan, though it is more equal with that of Russia, is with China. Then comes the American diplomatic and economic relations, and the Canadian trade and adoption (yes, the adoption of Kazakhstani children is now a growing practice in the West, and Canada has the biggest interest in it) relations. It should be mentioned that Kazakhstan has had some hostile dialogue with Iraq, which, since the second American invasion there has sought nuclear assistance from Kazakhstan, worrying Nazarbayev that such a request would set the United States or the UN on his government’s tail, for Kazakhstan, officially, has no nuclear weapons anymore, though it is thought that the weapons the USSR supplied Afghanistan with in the 1980s originated in the KSSR. As such, Nazarbayev often speculates that Iraq, particularly under its American provisional government, is hatching some plan to retaliate against his nation for some reason or another. On a minuscule level, Kazakhstan has relations with the Ukraine, with whom its shares its control of the Caspian Sea. The two nations have an industrial partnership as well.

Granted that the nature of Kazakhstan’s presence on the world stage is intricate and evolving, though only recent notable in Nazarbayev’s election controversies, its outlook for the future, in Nursultans’ eyes seems to be positive. The Kazakhstani President sees his nation as a hotbed of a future economy and a wealth of resources (though oil is the predominant), and he has made no intimation of again revising the constitution. He seems optimistic about Kazakhstan’s importance becoming grander and its relations more diversified, though he is satisfied greatly by the fact that his nations’ present partners happen to be some of the most influential nations today. From an outsider’s stance, there appears to be the reality of continued pressure from political watchdog groups such as the UN and the EU, and other international agencies and governments, which will most likely inevitably cause Nazarbayev to someday soon step down. The December, 2005 election through which Nazarbayev was unconstitutionally awarded yet another—a third consecutive—term as Kazakhstan’s President and the fact that it was by a vast majority of well over 90% has rekindled in the hearts of Westerners Soviet-era fears of authoritarian regimes and motives of expansion. If this pressure does not lead to Nazarbayev’s resignation, it will, in the alternative, probably lead to his drafting or another government body’s drafting of a final, truly democratic constitution for Kazakhstan, one which not only lists pleasant freedoms, but reduces the power concentration in the Executive and changes language rights, and therewith, access to government.

The most recent and most important warning sign of Nazarbayev’s corrupt governing has been his latest election win, and it is an opinion in the international community that the necessity to intervene in Kazakhstans’ elections is a real one. It would not be surprising to see, most likely, the EU step in to either monitor elections in Kazakhstan (for the EU made the loudest statement of disapproval of the recent practice) or aid in completely replacing them. Kazakhstan’s parliament, though elected, needs to be restructured, though a reform of official language laws would correct the situation of lacking an opposition and an imbalance of member representation. What is most apparent, however, is that Kazakhstan’s economy will continue to soar. Given the present oil price crisis and reduction of world fossil fuel resources, Kazakhstan’s still much-untouched oil wealth will be a crucial bargaining chip in its role on the economic stage. Nazarbayev, in his promotion of Kazakhstans’ resources, has been encouraging a Westernisation of the nation, and it is inevitable that American cultural and political practice will take over at some point, as will a Canadian flavour of democratic institution and freedom.

This brings the analysis to Kazakhstan’s transition to a true democracy. While the country has, since 1991, been an official democracy, and indeed, its long-serving, authoritarian-leaning leader was elected, it is this leader’s recent re-election which demonstrates that Kazakhstan is not in practicality, a democracy. The constitutional revisions aside, the concentration of power in this nation is severe in its invalidity. Kazakhstan, perhaps too used to a non-democratic past, needs to focus on such a transition rather than an economic transition entirely. It is a conservative estimation to categorise Kazakhstan’s governing as a quasi-democracy. It has stagnated for the present time in its political evolution, but familiarity is all a part of change…




Cartlidge, Cherese, & Clark, Charles, (2001). Former Soviet republics: The central Asian states. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books.

Pang, Guek-Chang, (2001). Cultures of the world: Kazakhstan. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish.