Thursday, August 25, 2016


Kazakhstan Gears Up For 'Nursultan Mania'

President Nursultan Nazarbaev has ruled Kazakhstan since 1991.
President Nursultan Nazarbaev has ruled Kazakhstan since 1991.
By Antoine Blua and Zhoyamergen Orken
He's been a fairy-tale hero, had a university named after him, and he can visit countless museums dedicated to himself across the country. Now Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev is set to enjoy a new privilege -- his own special holiday.

The Day of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan -- December 1 -- was established toward the end of 2011 to mark the date on which Nazarbaev won Kazakhstan’s first independent presidential election in 1991.

And although the actual day is more than a week away, the country is already gearing up with events glorifying the first and only post-Soviet Kazakh president.

On November 20, the Education and Science Ministry announced the winner of a schoolchildren's competition in honor of Nazarbaev.

Teenager Elbasy Begmat won with his extensive knowledge of Nazarbaev's biography.

His name, Elbasy, means "head of the nation" and is an official title held by Nazarbaev.

After the award ceremony in Astana, Begmat said he was named Elbasy so that he could be "a wise politician like the head of the nation Nursultan Nazarbaev."

He added that he planned to become an engineer "and serve our people like Elbasy."

On December 1, the Astana administration says, various events will be held in the capital, including sports competitions, photography displays, book exhibitions, and concerts.

Personality Cult?

The Education and Science Ministry is going one step further, announcing that it will hold weeklong events dubbed "New Kazakhstan in the New World."

The initiative, described as "Nazarbaev Week" in the media, will start on November 29 and will include panel discussions, youth forums, and photo and book exhibitions on Nazarbaev.

The ministry said nearly 1,500 participants from 51 countries, including scholars and politicians, had expressed an interest in taking part in the panels on topics like "Kazakhstan's Initiatives in Foreign Policy" and "The Social Modernization of Kazakhstan."

Critics say Nazarbaev has increasingly been the object of a cult of personality.

That view was bolstered in August when the self-styled "head of the nation" got his place cemented in the history books with the publication of his first official biography.

Last year, a giant statue of him was erected in Almaty’s Park of the First President -- another of Nazarbaev’s official titles.

He has lent his name or likeness to countless statues, parks, museums, secondary schools, and institutes across the country.

Astana celebrates its city day on his birthday, which is a national holiday.

Nazarbaev, 72, has ruled in an authoritarian style since Soviet times. He has extended his own mandate through four presidential elections -- none of them considered free or fair by Western election monitors -- and a referendum.
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Comment Sorting
by: Sapar from: Abishev
November 23, 2012 10:51
Kazakhs fail to learn from the past experience which reminds Leonid Brezhnev, Joseph Stalin, Turmen guy and the likes. Let alone all those Arab dictators who ended up bad.

I am afraid the history will repeat itself and he will follow the suit. The worst part though people/country will suffer more. The risk also that Kazakhs may easily loose theirs independence, in fact this s**t is already hapenning.

by: Confidential from: Almaty
November 29, 2012 08:39
The older the statesman grows, the weaker his grip on power becomes. What was concrete ... is now becoming sand slipping away through his fingers. A tightening of the fist only makes the hand smaller, letting more sand slip away. An assured stride becomes the careful shuffle, fearful of a fall which is sure to break "something". The certainty of rightful power becomes the obsessed anxiety attack of fear for the change. "Everything should stay the same! Clamp down, break down, mow down any voice, any man, woman or child who dares to say it isn't so."
How can it be that I can be prosecuted "for fomenting unrest" for saying the above? The worst moment in the development of the nation came when opposition voices were stifled with the 7% minimum-vote rule and totalitarian one-man rule started. The discussion and exchange of opinion stopped. Hatred and loathing had a chance to grow, frustration is boiling over. It is all slipping away like sand kernels.
What is the legacy that remains, except for the age-old lesson of "how not to"?

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