Long-ruling Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has summarized his annual address to the nation in a prerecorded video and indicated that, for the second straight year, he would refrain from delivering the speech live in parliament.
In the 7-minute statement, which was televised on January 9, Nazarbaev said that his full address would be published by state newspapers on January 10.
Nazarbaev focused on efforts to digitize the economy and bureaucracy in the speech, which a spokesman had touted earlier in the day as "an important statement."
Nazarbaev, 77, exercises tight control and has ruled the Central Asian country since 1989, when it was still a Soviet republic.
In the past, Nazarbaev has delivered his annual address before parliament, and it has been televised live. But in 2017, he also made a prerecorded summary that was aired on January 31 and then published in state newspapers.
Several days before that address, Nazarbaev announced plans to delegate some of his sweeping powers to parliament and to the government, transforming his own leadership into a role he described as "Supreme Arbiter."
The remarks sparked speculation that he was preparing for a political transition in Kazakhstan, where his government has suppressed dissent and used various methods to neutralize potential opponents.
But while constitutional amendments adopted later in 2017 brought some cosmetic alterations to power sharing between the president, government, and parliament, no major changes have occurred.