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Kazakh Opposition Parties Want Referendum On Impeaching President

Algha leader Vladimir Kozlov with Communist leader Qadyr Qoshqarov hold a press conference in Almaty.
Algha leader Vladimir Kozlov with Communist leader Qadyr Qoshqarov hold a press conference in Almaty.
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakhstan's Algha (Forward) and Communist parties have discussed their joint efforts to hold a national referendum on impeaching President Nursultan Nazarbaev, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Algha leader Vladimir Kozlov and Qadyr Qoshqarov, chairman of the Kazakh Communist Party's Almaty city committee, said on September 2 that the two parties plan to gather on September 25 to discuss how to organize the referendum.

Kozlov said the idea of holding such a referendum came after the Kazakh Constitution was amended earlier this year to designate Nazarbaev the "leader of the nation."

He said Nazarbaev, 70, should step down because of his age and because he is responsible for the bad situation faced by millions of pensioners.

Kozlov added that according to the new constitutional amendments, any offense against Nazarbaev, any move or deed deemed to damage his personal honor and dignity, as well as any attempt to impede his activities, was considered a crime.

Taking that into account, Kozlov said that on July 28 he sent a query to the Prosecutor-General's Office and the president's office asking them if the rally planned for September 25 qualifies as an offense against Nazarbaev's honor or dignity.

Kozlov said he had not received a response. The Prosecutor-General's Office insists it mailed a reply to Kozlov's query on August 3.

Kozlov said the Prosecutor-General's Office found itself in a difficult situation because if it officially issues a document confirming that such a gathering is not an insult to the Kazakhstan's leader, then the Communist Party and Algha will have a written mandate protecting them from any possible lawsuits after publicly discussing Nazarbaev's impeachment.

But Kozlov said if the Prosecutor-General's Office officially issued a letter saying that such a gathering could be considered an insult to the president's honor, then the office would tacitly concede that the constitution was "raped" when it was amended to designate Nazarbaev "untouchable."

Ualikhan Qalizhan, a member of the pro-presidential Nur-Otan party, told RFE/RL that since Algha is unregistered it cannot position itself as a political party or "discuss or comment" on the idea of holding a referendum on impeaching Nazarbaev.

Alikhan Baimenov, the leader of the pro-government Ak-Zhol (Bright Path) party, told RFE/RL that "real" political parties should engage in concrete programs supported by the majority of the population.

Bolat Abilov, co-chairman of the opposition Azat (Free) Social Democratic Party, told RFE/RL that in the current political circumstances it is impossible to hold such a referendum. He noted that his party's attempts to hold referendums on other issues were blocked by the authorities.