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Kazakh President Gives Awards To Predecessor's Close Associates, Relatives

Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev was named by Nursultan Nazarbaev to succeed him in 2019.
Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev was named by Nursultan Nazarbaev to succeed him in 2019.

NUR-SULTAN -- Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev has awarded close associates and relatives of his predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbaev, who continues to wield power ahead of the 30th anniversary of the former Soviet republic's independence.

The presidential administration said on December 13 that Nazarbaev's daughter, lawmaker Darigha Nazarbaeva; writer Sabit Dosanov, who is related to Nazarbaev by marriage; a relative of Nazarbaev's nephew, Serikzhan Seitzhanov; poet and composer Myrzatai Zholdasbekov, who is the author of a song praising Nazarbaev, and several of Nazarbaev's closest associates were awarded state orders and medals.

The announcement comes amid an ongoing crackdown on opposition and rights activists across the country, many of whom have been detained on charge of violating laws on public gatherings in recent weeks.

Local activists say that the incarcerations are connected to the upcoming Independence Day on December 16, a date that coincides with two sensitive anniversaries in modern Kazakh history: the 1986 anti-Kremlin demonstrations in Almaty, known as the Zheltoqsan revolt, and a deadly 2011 police crackdown on protesting oil workers in the southwestern town of Zhanaozen when at least 16 oil workers died.

After ruling the country with an iron fist for almost 30 years, Nazarbaev announced his decision to retire in March 2019 and picked Toqaev as his successor

A day after his resignation, the name of the Kazakh capital was changed to Nur-Sultan to honor Nazarbaev, which sparked protests across the country.

Nazarbaev continues to wield considerable influence as chairman of the Security Council and enjoys almost limitless powers as "elbasy" -- leader of the nation.

Under Toqaev, Kazakhstan continues to clamp down on freedom of speech and harass opposition members.

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