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Kazakh President Makes Many Mistakes While Taking Oath

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev takes the oath of office in Astana on April 8.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev takes the oath of office in Astana on April 8.
ASTANA -- Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev made eight grammatical and other mistakes while taking the presidential oath at his inauguration ceremony in Astana on April 8, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Nazarbaev, 70, used incorrect conjunctive forms, incorrect case endings, and some words that sounded similar to the correct ones but have a different meaning. He also omitted the words "constitution" and "president" in just one sentence.

Nazarbaev was required to read aloud Chapter 42, Article 1, of the Kazakh Constitution, which states: "I solemnly swear to serve the people of Kazakhstan, to strictly follow the constitution and all other laws of Kazkahstan, to guarantee that citizens' rights and freedoms are respected, to fairly carry out all the duties I am obliged to fulfill as the president of the Republic of Kazakhstan."

According to the Kazakh Constitution, presidential candidates must be fluent in Kazakh. As a presidential candidate, Nazarbaev was required in February to take the state linguistic commission's Kazakh-language test.

The language test this year was much harder for candidates than in the run-up to previous elections. It consisted of three parts: writing a text on a selected topic; reading aloud; and giving a 15-minute speech on an issue proposed by the linguistic commission.

Only one member of the Central Election Commission was present at the test. The linguistic commission members took collective decisions on whether candidates' fluency in the Kazakh language was adequate to qualify them to run for president.

Linguistic commission member Fauziya Orazbaeva said on February 7 that the candidates would only be allowed to make one spelling or stylistic mistake. Several would-be candidates officially failed that requirement and were disbarred from being presidential candidates.

Nazarbaev and three other candidates -- Zhambyl Akhmetbekov of the pro-Nazarbaev Communist People's Party; Mels Eleusizov, leader of the Tabighat (Nature) ecological union; and Patriots Party leader Ghani Qasymov -- were deemed to have passed the test, although Eleusizov's Kazakh is stumbling and Qasymov knows but a few words of the language.

Meanwhile, other prospective candidates with much better Kazakh-language ability than those two were said to have failed the test.

Nazarbaev has ruled Kazkahstan for more than 20 years. He was reelected for a another term in a preterm ballot on April 3 in an election that was deemed neither free nor fair by international election monitors, who said it was riddled with irregularities.

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