Kazakhstan was the last of the republics of the USSR to claim independence in December, 1991. For more than 20 years, the country has been ruled authoritatively by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Even before the collapse of the USSR, Nazarbayev was the first secretary of the Kazakh Communist Party. Kazakhstan is a country with vast resources of raw materials, such as uranium, oil, and natural gas. However, 55.5% of the national GDP is controlled by a state fund managed by Nazarbayev's family. Human rights are routinely being violated in the country, and social activists are becoming victims of political repression. Independent media lose their licences. At the same time, official propaganda of success reigns in Kazakhstan – the authorities are seeking to build a ‘democratic’ image both inside and outside the country.
NURSULTAN NAZARBAYEV Presidential dictatorship
Kazakhstan has been ruled authoritatively by President Nursultan Nazarbayev for over 20 years. Even before the collapse of the USSR, Nazarbayev was the first secretary of the Kazakh Communist Party. The President's power is exercised through an extensive apparatus of subordinated administration and government, which, to a large extent, is staffed by individuals having a background in the old regime.more
HUMAN RIGHTS Kazakhstan on the brink of change?
The Kazakh authorities do not enter into dialogues with civil society. The degree of limitation of freedom of speech in Kazakhstan is among the highest in the world. Independent journalists, social activists and opposition activists are repressed in the country.more
EUROPE AT NAZARBAYEV’S SERVICE Nursultan Nazarbayev’s European lobby
As a country, Kazakhstan is very active on the international scene, and very sensitive about its image as a Central Asian oasis of democracy, stability and leadership in the sphere of reform. Kazakhstan has its own International Advisory Group, functioning by the President and consisting of leading European politicians. This lobby seeks to promote Nazarbayev and support his efforts of masking the Kazakh facade of democracy. European PR agencies, such as Portland PR and Tony Blair Associates also provide services to the Kazakh government.more