Kazakhstan's government has approved a proposal to give President Nursultan Nazarbaev the People's Hero (Halyk Kakharmany) award when the country marks 20 years of independence on December 16.
Justice Minister Rashit Tusupbekov proposed giving Nazarbaev the award, which members of the rubberstamp government immediately and unanimously approved.
Prime Minister Karim Masimov reportedly signed the necessary documents "right after the vote" and said, "This is certainly the most important document I have ever signed."
Nazarbaev is the only head of state in Kazakhstan's post-Soviet history, although he has never won an election that meets Western observers' standards for fairness.
He remains popular in part due to Kazakhstan's huge revenues from fossil fuels and its ability to avoid the kind of civil and ethnic unrest that has sometimes hurt its neighbors.
compiled from local and international agency reports