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Kazakh Language Test For Presidential Candidates To Be Made Harder

President Nursultan Nazarbaev's (right) linguistic skills had better be up to par ahead of elections in April.
ASTANA -- Kazakhstan's Central Election Commission (OSK) chairman says a mandatory Kazakh-language test for presidential candidates would be made stricter, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Quandyq Turghanqulov also said the OSK had appointed a new team for the country's linguistic commission ahead of early presidential elections scheduled for April 3

Turghanqulov said the new test would consist of three parts: writing a text on a selected topic, reading a text aloud, and giving a 15-minute speech on an issue proposed by the commission.

Just one OSK member will be present during the test, and commission members will vote openly before deciding jointly on whether a candidate's Kazakh language is sufficiently proficient to run for president.

Linguistic commission member Fauziya Orazbaeva said currently presidential candidates are allowed to make three spelling mistakes and two stylistic errors and still pass the test.

She said under the new rules, candidates would be allowed just one spelling or stylistic error.

The decision to hold the early vote is controversial and will move up President Nursultan Nazarbaev current term in office by nearly two years.

Kazakh opposition parties and activists say they do not have enough time to prepare for the polls and many groups are urging people to boycott it.

One of those opposition leaders, Vladimir Kozlov, the head of the unregistered Algha (Forward) party, said in January he would not run for president because his Kazakh language is not good enough.

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