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Monument To Kazakh President Unveiled In Almaty

People attend a ceremony to unveil a monument that includes a sculpture of President Nursultan Nazarbaev in Almaty on November 11.
People attend a ceremony to unveil a monument that includes a sculpture of President Nursultan Nazarbaev in Almaty on November 11.
ALMATY -- A monument with a larger-than-life statue of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has been unveiled in Almaty, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Scores of people, including Nazarbaev's eldest daughter Darigha Nazarbaeva, attended a ceremony in the Park of the First President in Almaty, the country's largest city.

Nazarbaeva -- who was once tapped to be a successor to her father -- did not give a speech and refused to comment to RFE/RL when asked.

The idea for the monument was initiated and financed by urban-planners union head Lyubov Nysynbaeva, architects union chief Akmyrza Rustembekov, designers union head Timur Suleymenov, and artists union chief Baitursyn Umorbekov.

Almaty Mayor Akhmetzhan Yesimov said at the event that "the heads of the [world's] leading states have recognized Nazarbaev as an outstanding politician on a global scale, [as someone] who made enormous contributions to nuclear disarmament, Asian security, and integration."

Nazarbaev, 71, has ruled Kazakhstan since 1991 and has had the constitution altered to allow him to serve as many terms as he wishes.

World War II veteran and honorary Almaty citizen Sultan Zhienbaev compared Nazarbaev with 18th-century Russian leader Peter the Great and praised Nazarbaev for having established Kazakhstan's capital city, Astana, in the desert.

Senator Kuanysh Sultanov said that 20 years ago world leaders hardly knew "what Kazakhstan is and who Kazakhs are," and that Nazarbaev had raised the country's international prestige.

Nazarbaev is criticized by international human rights organizations for being an autocratic ruler who has cracked down on independent media and prevented a competitive political opposition from being established.

His ruling Nur-Otan (Fatherland) party holds all of the seats in the lower house of parliament and political dissent is effectively crushed.

Nysynbaeva said Nazarbaev succeeded in "uniting the multinational people of Kazakhstan" and developing its national culture and language.

A statue of a seated Nazarbaev became a central part of a monumental sculpture called "Kazakhstan" that is replete with eagle wings behind him stylized with the Almaty and Astana city symbols. There are also two quotations from Nazarbaev engraved on the wings.

Read more in Russian here and in Kazakh here

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