NUR-SULTAN -- Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev has signed into law a controversial bill regulating the work of attorneys that lawyers have criticized as a move to impose state control over their professional activities.
Under the law that was approved by the tightly controlled former Soviet republic's parliament in April, all of the Central Asian country's lawyers will become members of a state chamber, pay monthly fees to the state collegium of lawyers, and register with a state-controlled online information system.
Kazakh lawyers had called on Toqaev to veto the bill and return it to parliament, saying that the legislation would deprive them of their independence.
The Justice Ministry, which created the bill, has rejected the criticism. On June 4, the Constitutional Council said the legislation was in line with the constitution.
Kazakhstan's first president, Nursultan Nazarbaev, who maintains vast political influence even though he stepped down in 2019 after almost 30 years of running the country, is a lifetime member of the Constitutional Council, which is led by close ally Qairat Mami.
Nazarbaev, who also leads the powerful Security Council and enjoys almost limitless powers as "elbasy" -- leader of the nation -- named Toqaev, then chairman of the parliament's upper chamber, the Senate, his successor after his resignation.