Nursultan Nazarbayev

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Elbasy

Nursultan Nazarbayev
Нұрсұлтан Назарбаев
Nursultan Nazarbayev (2020-03-10) (cropped).jpg
Nazarbayev in 2020
Chairman of the Security Council of Kazakhstan
Assumed office
21 August 1991
PresidentHimself
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
Preceded byOffice established
1st President of Kazakhstan
In office
24 April 1990[note 1] – 20 March 2019
Prime Minister
Vice PresidentYerik Asanbayev (1991–96)
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byKassym-Jomart Tokayev
Honorary President of Turkic Council[1]
Assumed office
25 April 2019
Preceded byOffice established
Member of the Constitutional Council
Assumed office
19 March 2019
Preceded byOffice established
Chairman of the Assembly of People
Assumed office
1 March 1995
Preceded byOffice established
Chairman of Nur Otan
Assumed office
1 March 1999
Preceded byOffice established
First Secretary of the Central Committee of the QKP
In office
22 June 1989 – 7 September 1991
Preceded byGennady Kolbin
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Kazakh SSR
In office
22 February 1990 – 24 April 1990
Prime MinisterUzakbay Karamanov
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Kazakh SSR
In office
22 March 1984 – 27 July 1989
ChairmanBayken Ashimov
Salamay Mukashev
Zakash Kamaledinov
Vera Sidorova
Makhtay Sagdiyev
Preceded byKilibay Medeubekov
Succeeded byYerik Asanbayev
Preceded byBayken Ashimov
Succeeded byUzakbay Karamanov
Personal details
Born
Nursultan Ábishuly Nazarbayev

(1940-07-06) 6 July 1940 (age 80)
Chemolgan, Kazakh SSR, Soviet Union
(now Ushkonyr, Kazakhstan)
Political partyNur Otan (1999–present)
Other political
affiliations
Communist (1962–1991)
Independent (1991–1999)
Spouse(s)
(m. 1962)
ChildrenDariga
Dinara
Aliya
Signature
Websitehttps://elbasy.kz/en
Military service
Allegiance Soviet Union
 Kazakhstan
Branch/serviceArmed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Years of service1991–2019
RankПогон верховного главнокомандующего Казахстана.png
Supreme Commander

Nursultan Ábishuly Nazarbayev (Kazakh: Нұрсұлтан Әбишұлы Назарбаев, Nursultan Ábişuly Nazarbaev), Kazakh pronunciation: [nʊrsʊlˈtɑn æbəɕʊˈlə nɑzɑɾˈbɑjɪf];.[2][note 2] (born 6 July 1940) is a Kazakh politician currently serving as the Chairman of the Security Council of Kazakhstan who previously served as the first President of Kazakhstan, in office from 24 April 1990[3] until his formal resignation on 19 March 2019.[4] He is one of the longest-ruling non-royal leaders in the world, having ruled Kazakhstan for nearly three decades. He was named First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Kazakh SSR in 1989 and was elected as the nation's first president following its independence from the Soviet Union. He holds the title "Leader of the Nation".[5] In April 2015, Nazarbayev was re-elected with almost 98% of the vote, as he ran virtually unopposed.[6]

Nazarbayev has been accused of human rights abuses by several human rights organisations and suppressed dissent and presided over an authoritarian regime.[7] According to independent observers, from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, no election held in Kazakhstan since independence has been free and fair by international standards.[7][8] In 2010, he announced reforms to encourage a multi-party system.[7] In January 2017, Nazarbayev proposed constitutional reforms that would delegate powers to the Parliament of Kazakhstan.[9]

In March 2019, he unexpectedly resigned from presidency due to public pressure. However he still maintains the title as "Elbasy" (meaning "Leader of the Nation") where he is immune from any criminal prosecution and currently serves as the chairman of the Security Council, ruling party Nur Otan, and Assembly of People of Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev is also a member of the Constitutional Council, and an honorary member of the Senate of Kazakhstan.

Early life and education[edit]

Nazarbayev was born in Chemolgan, a rural town near Almaty, when Kazakhstan was one of the republics of the Soviet Union, to parents Ábish Nazarbayev (1903–1971) and Aljan Nazarbayeva (1910–1977).[10] His father Ábish was a poor labourer who worked for a wealthy local family until Soviet rule confiscated the family's farmland in the 1930s during Joseph Stalin's collectivization policy.[11] Following this, his father took the family to the mountains to live out a nomadic existence.[12] His family's religious tradition was Sunni Islam.[citation needed]

Ábish avoided compulsory military service due to a withered arm he had sustained when putting out a fire.[13] At the end of World War II, the family returned to the village of Chemolgan, and Nazarbayev began to learn the Russian language.[14] He performed well at school and was sent to a boarding school in Kaskelen.[15]

After leaving school, Nazarbayev took up a one-year, government-funded scholarship at the Karaganda Steel Mill in Temirtau.[16] He also spent time training at a steel plant in Dniprodzerzhynsk, and therefore was away from Temirtau when riots broke out there over working conditions.[16] By the age of 20, he was earning a relatively good wage doing "incredibly heavy and dangerous work" in the blast furnace.[17]

Nazarbayev joined the Communist Party in 1962, becoming a prominent member of the Young Communist League (Komsomol)[17] and full-time worker for the party, and attended the Karagandy Polytechnic Institute.[18] He was appointed secretary of the Communist Party Committee of the Karaganda Metallurgical Kombinat in 1972, and four years later became Second Secretary of the Karaganda Regional Party Committee.[18]

In his role as a bureaucrat, Nazarbayev dealt with legal papers, logistical problems, and industrial disputes, as well as meeting workers to solve individual issues.[18] He later wrote that "the central allocation of capital investment and the distribution of funds" meant that infrastructure was poor, workers were demoralised and overworked, and centrally set targets were unrealistic; he saw the steel plant's problems as a microcosm for the problems for the Soviet Union as a whole.[19]

Rise to power[edit]

Nazarbayev (front row, second from left) at the signing of the Alma-Ata Protocol, December 1991

In 1984, Nazarbayev became the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan (Chairman of the Council of Ministers), under Dinmukhamed Kunayev, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan.[20] At the sixteenth session of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan in January 1986, Nazarbayev criticized Askar Kunayev, head of the Academy of Sciences, for not reforming his department. Dinmukhamed Kunayev, Nazarbayev's boss and Askar's brother, felt deeply angered and betrayed. Kunayev went to Moscow and demanded Nazarbayev's dismissal while Nazarbayev's supporters campaigned for Kunayev's dismissal and Nazarbayev's promotion.[citation needed]

Kunayev was ousted in 1986 and replaced by a Russian, Gennady Kolbin, who despite his office had little authority in Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev was named party leader on 22 June 1989,[20] only the second Kazakh (after Kunayev) to hold the post. He was Chairman of the Supreme Soviet (head of state) from 22 February to 24 April 1990.[citation needed]

On 24 April 1990, Nazarbayev was named the first President of Kazakhstan by the Supreme Soviet. He supported Russian President Boris Yeltsin against the attempted coup in August 1991 by Soviet hardliners.[21] Nazarbayev was close enough to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev for Gorbachev to consider him for the post of Vice President of the Soviet Union; however, Nazarbayev turned the offer down.[22]

The Soviet Union disintegrated following the failed coup, though Nazarbayev was highly concerned with maintaining the close economic ties between Kazakhstan and Russia.[23] In the country's first presidential election, held on 1 December, he appeared alone on the ballot and won 95% of the vote.[24] On 21 December, he signed the Alma-Ata Protocol, taking Kazakhstan into the Commonwealth of Independent States.[25]

Presidency[edit]

Nazarbayev with US President George W. Bush at the White House in September 2006
Goh Chok Tong with Nazarbayev at the Akorda Palace

Nazarbayev renamed the former State Defense Committees as the Ministry of Defense and appointed Sagadat Nurmagambetov as Defense Minister on 7 May 1992. The Supreme Soviet, under the leadership of Chairman Serikbolsyn Abdilin, began debating over a draft constitution in June 1992. The constitution created a strong executive branch with limited checks on executive power.[26]

Opposition political parties Azat, Jeltoqsan and the Republican Party, held demonstrations in Almaty from 10 to 17 June 1992 calling for the formation of a coalition government and the resignation of the government of Prime Minister Sergey Tereshchenko and the Supreme Council. The Parliament of Kazakhstan, composed of Communist Party legislators who had yet to stand in an election since the country gained independence, adopted the constitution on 28 January 1993.[26]

An April 1995 referendum extended Nazarbayev's term until 2000. He was re-elected in January 1999 and again in December 2005. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe criticized the last presidential election as falling short of international democratic standards.[27] On 18 May 2007, the Parliament of Kazakhstan approved a constitutional amendment which allowed the incumbent president—himself—to run for an unlimited number of five-year terms. This amendment applied specifically and only to Nazarbayev: the original constitution's prescribed maximum of two five-year terms will still apply to all future presidents of Kazakhstan.[28]

Nazarbayev appointed Altynbek Sarsenbayev, who at the time served as the Minister of Culture, Information and Concord, the Secretary of the Security Council, replacing Marat Tazhin, on 4 May 2001. Tazhin became the Chairman of the National Security Committee, replacing Alnur Mussayev. Musayev became the head of the Presidential Security Service.[29]

Notwithstanding Kazakhstan's membership in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation), under Nazarbayev the country has had good relations with Israel. Diplomatic relations were established in 1992, and President Nazarbayev paid official visits to Israel in 1995 and 2000.[30] Bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to US$724,000,000 in 2005.[citation needed]

In 1994, Nazarbayev suggested relocating the capital city from Almaty to Astana, and the official changeover of the capital happened on 10 December 1997.[31]

On 4 December 2005, new presidential elections were held and President Nazarbayev won by an overwhelming majority of 91.15% (from a total of 6,871,571 eligible participating voters). Nazarbayev was sworn in for another seven-year term on 11 January 2006.[32] In 2009, former UK Cabinet Minister Jonathan Aitken released a biography of the Kazakh leader entitled Nazarbayev and the Making of Kazakhstan. The book takes a generally pro-Nazarbayev stance, asserting in the introduction that he is mostly responsible for the success of modern Kazakhstan.[33]

Nazarbayev has always emphasised the role of education in the nation's social development. In order to make education affordable, on 13 January 2009, he introduced educational grant "Orken" for the talented youth of Kazakhstan. This decree was amended on 23 September 2016.[34]

In December 2011, opponents of Nazarbayev rioted in Mangystau, described by the BBC as the biggest opposition movement of his time in power.[35] On 16 December 2011, demonstrations in the oil town of Zhanaozen clashed with police on the country's Independence Day.[36] Fifteen people were shot dead by security forces[37] and almost 100 people were injured. Protests quickly spread to other cities but then died down. The subsequent trial of demonstrators uncovered mass abuse and torture of detainees.[35]

On 11 June 2011, Daniel Witt, Vice Chairman of the Eurasia Foundation, acknowledged the role of Nazarbayev and his political reforms:

"[President] Nazarbayev has led Kazakhstan through difficult times and into an era of prosperity and growth. He has demonstrated that he values his U.S. and Western alliances and is committed to achieving democratic governance."[38]

In December 2012, Nazarbayev outlined a forward-looking national strategy called the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy.[39]

In 2014, Nazarbayev suggested that Kazakhstan should change its name to "Kazakh Yeli" ("Country of the Kazakhs"), for the country to attract better and more foreign investment, since "Kazakhstan" by its name is associated with other "-stan" countries. Nazarbayev noted Mongolia receives more investment than Kazakhstan because it is not a "-stan" country, even though it is in the same neighborhood, and not as stable as Kazakhstan. However, he is letting the people decide on whether the country should change its name.[clarification needed][40][41]

Allegations of corruption[edit]

Nazarbayev with Lee Myung-bak in Seoul, 2010

Over the course of Nazarbayev's presidency, an increasing number of accusations of corruption and favoritism have been directed against Nazarbayev and his circle. Critics say that the country's government has come to resemble a clan system.[42]

According to The New Yorker, in 1999 Swiss banking officials discovered $85,000,000 in an account apparently belonging to Nazarbayev; the money, intended for the Kazakh treasury, had in part been transferred through accounts linked to James Giffen.[43] Subsequently, Nazarbayev successfully pushed for a parliamentary bill granting him legal immunity, as well as another designed to legalise money laundering, angering critics further.[43] When Kazakh opposition newspaper Respublika reported in 2002 that Nazarbayev had in the mid-1990s secretly stashed away $1,000,000,000 of state oil revenue in Swiss bank accounts, the decapitated carcass of a dog was left outside the newspaper's offices, with a warning reading "There won't be a next time"; the dog's head later turned up outside editor Irina Petrushova's apartment, with a warning reading "There will be no last time."[44][45][46] The newspaper was firebombed as well.[46]

In May 2007, the Parliament of Kazakhstan approved a constitutional amendment which would allow Nazarbayev to seek re-election as many times as he wishes. This amendment applies specifically and only to Nazarbayev, since it states that the first president will have no limits on how many times he can run for office, but subsequent presidents will be restricted to a five-year term.[47]

As of 2015, Kazakhstan has never held an election meeting international standards.[7][8]

In May 2018, the Parliament of Kazakhstan passed a constitutional amendment allowing Nazarbayev to serve as Chairman of the Security Council for life. These reforms, which were approved by the Constitutional Council on 28 June, also expanded the powers of the Security Council, granting it the status of a constitutional body. The amendment states that, "The decisions of the security council and the chairman of the security council are mandatory and are subject to strict execution by state bodies, organisations and officials of the Republic of Kazakhstan."[48]

Economic issues[edit]

Eurasian Economic Union[edit]

In 1994, Nazarbayev suggested the idea of creating a "Eurasian Union" during a speech at Moscow State University.[49][50][51] On 29 May 2014, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan signed a treaty to create a Eurasian Economic Union which created a single economic space of 170,000,000 people and came into effect in January 2015.[52] Nazarbayev said shortly after the treaty was signed, "We see this as an open space and a new bridge between the growing economies of Europe and Asia."[52] Nazarbayev named Honorary Chairman of Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in May 2019.[53]

Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy[edit]

Nazarbayev unveiled in his 2012 State of the Nation the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy, a long-term strategy to ensure future growth prospects of Kazakhstan, and position Kazakhstan as one of the 30 most developed nations in the world.[54]

Nurly Zhol[edit]

President Nazarbayev unveiled in 2014 a multibillion-dollar domestic modernization and reformation plan called Nurly Zhol - The Path to the Future.[55] It was officially approved by the Decree of the President on 6 April 2015. The goal of the plan was for development and improvement of tourist, industrial and housing infrastructure, create 395,500 new jobs, and increase the GDP growth rate 15.7 by 2019.[56] In March 2019, it was announced that the program would be extended to 2025 with its new agenda being focused on developing road infrastructure.[57] According to Minister of Infrastructure and Development Beibut Atamkulov, it is planned that 27,000 kilometres of local roads will be repaired, with 21,000 kilometres of national roads being reconstructed and repaired.[58]

Digital Kazakhstan[edit]

President Nazarbayev unveiled this technological modernization initiative to increase Kazakhstan's economic competitiveness through the digital ecosystem development.[59]

Environmental issues[edit]

In his 1998 autobiography, Nazarbayev wrote that "The shrinking of the Aral Sea, because of its scope, is one of the most serious ecological disasters being faced by our planet today. It is not an exaggeration to put it on the same level as the destruction of the Amazon rainforest."[60] He called on Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and the wider world to do more to reverse the environmental damage done during the Soviet era.[61]

Stance on Nuclear weapons[edit]

Kazakhstan inherited from the Soviet Union the world's fourth-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons. Within four years of independence, Kazakhstan possessed zero nuclear weapons.[62] In one of the new government's first major decisions, Nazarbayev closed the Soviet nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk (Semei), where 456 nuclear tests had been conducted by the Soviet military.[63]

Presidents Nazarbayev and Obama held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague.

During the Soviet era, over 500 military experiments with nuclear weapons were conducted by scientists in the Kazakhstan region, mostly at the Semipalatinsk Test Site, causing radiation sickness and birth defects.[64] As the influence of the Soviet Union waned, Nazarbayev closed the site.[65] He later claimed that he had encouraged Olzhas Suleimenov's anti-nuclear movement in Kazakhstan, and was always fully committed to the group's goals.[66] In what was dubbed "Project Sapphire", the Kazakhstan and United States governments worked closely together to dismantle former Soviet weapons stored in the country, with the Americans agreeing to fund over $800,000,000 in transportation and "compensation" costs.[67]

Nazarbayev encouraged the United Nations General Assembly to establish 29 August as the International Day Against Nuclear Tests. In his article he has proposed a new Non-Proliferation Treaty "that would guarantee clear obligations on the part of signatory governments and define real sanctions for those who fail to observe the terms of the agreement."[68] His foreign minister signed a treaty authorizing the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone on 8 September 2006.[69]

In an oped in The Washington Times, Nazarbayev called for the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty to be modernized and better balanced.[70]

In March 2016, Nazarbayev released his "Manifesto: The World. The 21st century."[71] In this manifest the Kazakhstan President called for expanding and replicating existing nuclear-weapon-free zones and stressed the need to modernize existing international disarmament treaties.[72]

Iran[edit]

In a speech given in December 2006 marking the fifteenth anniversary of Kazakhstan's independence, Nazarbayev stated he wished to join with Iran in support of a single currency for all Central Asian states and intended to push the idea forward with the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on an upcoming visit. The Kazakh president also reportedly criticised Iran as a terrorism-supporting state. The Kazakh Foreign Ministry released a statement on 19 December, saying the reports were mistaken and contradictory to what the president actually meant.[73]

Religion[edit]

During a visit to the central mosque of the Aktobe Region.

Nazarbayev put forward the initiative of holding a forum of world and traditional religions in Astana. Earlier the organisers of similar events were only representatives of leading religions and denominations. Among other similar events aimed at establishing interdenominational dialogue were the meetings of representatives of world religions and denominations held in Assisi, Italy, in October 1986 and January 2002.[74] The first Congress of World and Traditional Religions which gathered in 2003 allowed the leaders of all major religions to develop prospects for mutual cooperation.[citation needed]

Nazarbayev initially espoused anti-religious views during the Soviet era;[75] he later made attempts to support Muslim heritage by performing the Hajj pilgrimage,[75] and supporting mosque renovations.[76]

Under the leadership of Nazarbayev, the Republic of Kazakhstan enacted some degrees of multiculturalism in order to retain and attract talents from diverse ethnic groups among its citizenry, and even from nations that are developing ties of cooperation with the country, in order to coordinate human resources onto the state-guided path of global market economic participation. This principle of the Kazakh leadership has earned it the name "Singapore of the Steppes".[77]

However, in 2012 Nazarbayev proposed reforms, which were later enacted by the parliament, imposing stringent restrictions on religious practices.[78] Religious groups were required to re-register, or face closure.[79] The initiative was explained as an attempt to combat extremism. However, under the new law, many minority religious groups are deemed illegal. In order to exist on a local level, a group must have more than 50 members: more than 500 on a regional level, and more than 5,000 on the national level.[78]

Nazarbayev made critical remarks against the veil, choosing to highlight Turkic traditions over Islam by claiming that "We are Turks, not Arabs" in an open reference to the Turkic heritage while attacking Arab heritage.[citation needed]

Nationalism[edit]

In 2014, Vladimir Putin's remarks regarding the historicity of Kazakhstan, in which he stated that Nazarbayev "created a state on a territory that never had a state ... Kazakhs never had any statehood, he has created it"[80][81][82][83][84][85] led to a severe response from Nazarbayev.[86][87][88][89][90][91][92][93][94][excessive citations]

In February 2018, Reuters reported that "Kazakhstan further loosened cultural ties with its former political masters in Moscow ... when a ban on speaking Russian in cabinet meetings took effect ... [Nazarbayev] has also ordered all parliamentary hearings to be held in Kazakh, saying those who are not fluent must be provided with simultaneous translations."[95]

Human rights record[edit]

Kazakhstan's human rights situation under Nazarbayev is uniformly described as poor by independent observers. Human Rights Watch says that "Kazakhstan heavily restricts freedom of assembly, speech, and religion. In 2014, authorities closed newspapers, jailed or fined dozens of people after peaceful but unsanctioned protests, and fined or detained worshippers for practicing religion outside state controls. Government critics, including opposition leader Vladimir Kozlov, remained in detention after unfair trials. In mid-2014, Kazakhstan adopted new criminal, criminal executive, criminal procedural, and administrative codes, and a new law on trade unions, which contain articles restricting fundamental freedoms and are incompatible with international standards. Torture remains common in places of detention."[96]

Kazakhstan is ranked 161 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders.[97]

Rule of law[edit]

According to a US government report released in 2014, in Kazakhstan:

Meeting with the Russian ex-president Dmitry Medvedev in 2008 in Astana

The law does not require police to inform detainees that they have the right to an attorney, and police did not do so. Human rights observers alleged that law enforcement officials dissuaded detainees from seeing an attorney, gathered evidence through preliminary questioning before a detainee’s attorney arrived, and in some cases used corrupt defense attorneys to gather evidence. [...] The law does not adequately provide for an independent judiciary. The executive branch sharply limited judicial independence. Prosecutors enjoyed a quasi-judicial role and had the authority to suspend court decisions. Corruption was evident at every stage of the judicial process. Although judges were among the most highly paid government employees, lawyers and human rights monitors alleged that judges, prosecutors, and other officials solicited bribes in exchange for favorable rulings in the majority of criminal cases.[98]

Kazakhstan's global rank in the World Justice Project's 2015 Rule of Law Index was 65 out of 102; the country scored well on "Order and Security" (global rank 32/102), and poorly on "Constraints on Government Powers" (global rank 93/102), "Open Government" (85/102) and "Fundamental Rights" (84/102, with a downward trend marking a deterioration in conditions).[99]

The National plan "100 concrete steps" introduced by President Nazarbayev included measures to reform the court system of Kazakhstan. The implementation of the national plan resulted in Kazakhstan's transition from a five-tier judicial system to a three-tier one in early 2016.[100]

Nazarbayev and Russian President Vladimir Putin after the Moscow Victory Day Parade in 2016

Foreign policy[edit]

During Nazarbayev's presidency the main principle of Kazakhstan's international relations was multi-vector foreign policy, which was based on initiatives to establish friendly relations with foreign partners.[101] Kazakhstan under Nazarbayev became co-founders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2001.[102] U.S. President-elect Donald Trump lauded Nazabayev's leadership and called Kazakhstan's achievements under his presidency a "miracle" during their phone call on 30 November 2016.[103]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conducted his first ever visit to Kazakhstan in mid-December 2016, when he met with Nazarbayev. The two countries signed agreements on research and development, aviation, civil service commissions and agricultural cooperation, as well as a declaration on establishing an agricultural consortium.[104]

In January 2019, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa conducted a state visit to Astana to meet with Nazarbayev, in the first visit by an African leader to the country in years. This would be the last foreign head of state that Nazarbayev would receive while in office.[105] Nazarbayev's last state visit to a foreign country took place five days prior to his resignation, visiting the United Arab Emirates to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.[106]

Resignation[edit]

On 19 March 2019, following unusually persistent protests in cities across the country,[107] Nazarbayev announced his resignation as President of Kazakhstan, citing the need for "a new generation of leaders".[4] The announcement was broadcast in a televised address in Astana after which he signed a decree ending his powers from 20 March 2019.[4] Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, speaker of the upper house of parliament, was appointed as president of the country until the end of the presidential term.[4]

His resignation as president notwithstanding, he continues to head the ruling Nur Otan party, remains a member of the Constitutional Council, and keeps his lifetime post as chairman of the Security Council. In his televised address Nazarbayev pointed out that he had been granted the honorary status of elbasy (leader of the nation, leader of the people[note 3]), the title bestowed upon him by parliament in 2010.[107][108]

Various colleagues of Nazarbayev reacted within hours of the announcement, with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev holding a telephone conversation with Nazarbayev, calling him a "great politician".[109][110] In a cabinet meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Nazarbayev's leadership, even going as far as to say that the Eurasian Economic Union was Nazarbayev's "brainchild".[111] Other world leaders who sent messages to Nazarbayev included Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan,[112] Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus, and Emomali Rahmon, President of Tajikistan.

Capital renaming[edit]

On 20 March 2019, after Nazarbayev's resignation, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev proposed renaming the capital Astana to Nur-Sultan (Kazakh: Нұр-Сұлтан/Russian: Нур-Султан)[113] in honor of Nazarbayev. The parliament of Kazakhstan officially voted in favour of the renaming.[114]

Post-presidency[edit]

Nazarbayev (third from the left) with Vladimir Putin at the 2019 Moscow Victory Day Parade

According to The Economist, despite his resignation, he is still behind the leadership of the country.[115] His resignation is considered by The Moscow Times to be an attempt to turn him into a Lee Kuan Yew type of public figure.[116] In the month since his resignation, he had met with South Korean President Moon Jae In and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during their visit to Kazakhstan. Notably, their meetings with Nazarbayev took place separately from their meetings with President Tokayev, who is the de jure head of state. Two days after leaving office, he attended the Nauryz celebrations where he was greeted by the civilian population.[117] In regard to accommodations as the first president, it is known that his personal office (now known as Kokorda) has been moved to a different location in the capital from the presidential palace. It was also reported in late April 2019 that Nazarbayev also maintains a private jet for official and private visits.[118]

He has embarked on two foreign visits since leaving office, to Beijing and Moscow. The former visit took place during the second Belt and Road Forum[119] while the latter took place during the 2019 Moscow Victory Day Parade.[120][121] In late-May, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced the naming of Nazarbayev as the honorary President of the Turkic Council.[122] On 7 September, he visited Moscow once again to attend the Moscow City Day celebrations on the VDNKh and to open his pavilion at the trade show.[123] During a visit to the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, he told the hosting President Ilham Aliyev that his father, former President Heydar Aliyev, would be "very delighted" with the development of the capital.[124] In late October, he attended the Enthronement of Japanese emperor Naruhito as the representative of Kazakhstan.[125][126] During this visit, he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which he congratulated him on his election victory and was invited by Zelensky to visit Kyiv.[127][128][129] Nazarbayev met with Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal during his visit to Kazakhstan for a charity tennis match. During his meeting with Nadal, he personally called former Spanish King Juan Carlos I.[130][131] In October 2019, it was announced that all potential ministerial candidates needed the approval of Nazarbayev before being appointed by Tokayev, with the exception of Minister of Defence, Interior Minister and Foreign Minister.[132]

On 29 November 2019, Nursultan Nazarbayev was named the Honorary Chair of Central Asian Consultative Meeting. It was announced at the second Consultative Meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.[133]

COVID-19[edit]

Nazarbayev created the Biz Birgemiz ("We are Together" in Kazakh) Fund in March 2020 “to fight the pandemic COVID-19 effectively while supporting the economy.”[134] As of June 2020, the fund gathered over 28 billion tenge (US$69.3 million) to provide financial aid to more than 470,000 families in 23 cities as part of the fund's three waves of assistance.[134] Upon his diagnosis with COVID-19 in mid-June, he received calls and telegrams of support from world leaders, including Vladimir Putin and King Abdullah II of Jordan[135] as well as former President of Croatia Stjepan Mesić.[136]

80th birthday[edit]

He recovered from the virus on 3 July,[137] in time to the celebrations of his 80th birthday. It also coincided with the Day of the Capital City. Among the leaders giving congratulations were Armenian President Armen Sarkissian[138], Russian President Vladimir Putin, former Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev[139] and former Turkish President Abdullah Gül.[140] Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Grigory Karasin described Nazarbayev an interview honoring his birthday as "the few world politicians who has a vision of political processes".[141] The celebratory events were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.[142] A statue of Nazarbayev in military uniform was unveiled at the National Defense University (an institution that itself which bears his name).[143][144]

2021 legislative campaign[edit]

As Chairman of Nur Otan, Nazarbayev signed a decree in the preparation of the 2021 legislative elections on 4 June 2020 setting the date of closed primaries would be held within the party "for open and political competition, promote civic engagement in the political process, and empower women and the youth of the country" to which he instructed for the party to include 30% of women and 20% of people under the age of 35 in its list.[145] The primaries were held from 17 August to 3 October 2020 where Nazarbayev himself voted online.[146][147]

Personal life[edit]

Nazarbayev is married to Sara Alpysqyzy Nazarbayeva. They have three daughters: Dariga, Dinara and Aliya. Aliya's first marriage was notably to Aidar Akayev, the eldest son of former President of Kyrgyzstan Askar Akayev, which for a short period in time, made the two Central Asian leaders related.[148] Having grown up in the USSR, Nazarbayev is fluent in Russian as well as Kazakh and understands English.[149] He has two brothers, Satybaldy (1947–1980) and Bolat (born 1953),[150] as well as one sister named Anip.[151] On 16 August 2020, Nazarbayev's grandson, Aisultan, reportedly died from cardiac arrest in London. Prior to that, Aisultan made several public statements on social media that Nazarbayev was his father and that his life was constantly threatened.[152][153] He also accused his grandfather's associates of plotting and scheming.[154]

On 18 June 2020, it was reported that Nazarbayev had tested positive for COVID-19; a spokesman stated that Nazarbayev would go into isolation and work remotely.[155] On 3 July 2020, Nazarbayev had recovered and was "back on his feet" three weeks after testing positive.[156] Nazarbayev has described his spirituality as being based on the words from Abai Qunanbaiuly, who was a Kazakh poet whose philosophy is based on an enlightened Islam. According to Nazarbayev, Abai's “Words of Wisdom” aided him in attempting to build a modern Kazakhstan after the collapse of the Soviet Union.[157]

Honours[edit]

Nursultan Nazarbayev monument
Postage stamp with Nazarbayev
Nursultan Nazarbayev street, Amman

Kazakhstan[edit]

Soviet Union[edit]

Nazarbayev with leaders of China, Russia and India during the Moscow Victory Day Parade, 9 May 2015
Postage stamp with Nazarbayev, Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev

Russian Federation[edit]

Foreign awards[edit]

Other[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

Nazarbayev is portrayed by Romanian actor Dani Popescu in the 2020 film Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, in which he is depicted as a leader who apparently wants to be part of Donald Trump’s “strongman club” alongside the likes of Vladimir Putin and Kenneth West, recruiting the titular Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen) to return to the United States to bribe Mikhael Pence with a gift of the country's beloved Jonny the Monkey, who is thereafter eaten by Borat's stowaway daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova), after which point Nazarbayev faxes Borat to have him present Tutar as a bride to Pence on his suggestion, later to Rudy Giuliani when Borat proves unable to. After Borat and Tutar return to Kazakhstan awaiting execution after failing to fulfill Nazarbayev's wishes, Nazarbayev instead states that "everyone makes mistakes" and offers Borat vodka before leaving, immediately after which point Borat and Tutar discover from looking at the walls of Nazarbayev's that Nazarbayev had masterminded the COVID-19 pandemic by injecting Borat himself with the original strain so that he would serve as an asymptomatic carrier and index case in his travels across the world en route to the Americas. Confronting Nazarbayev, who reveals his motivation for having spread the virus to be routed from how the world treated Kazakhstan after the release of the first film Borat! Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan fourteen years previously, Borat and Tutar record his confession on a smartphone, coercing him into overturning the country's various sexist laws and making it a feminist nation, and replacing the previously abandoned much-beloved "Running of the Jew" festival with the "Running of the Yankee".[179][180]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Kazakhstan declared independence from the Soviet Union on 16 December 1991.
  2. ^ In Kazakh, his name is spelled Нұрсұлтан Әбішұлы Назарбаев in Cyrillic; Nursultan Ábishuly Nazarbaev in Latin and pronounced [nʊrsʊlˈtɑn æbəɕʊˈlə nɑzɑɾˈbɑjɪf]. In Russian, his name is Нурсултан Абишевич Назарбаев, Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev, pronounced [nʊrsʊɫˈtan ɐˈbʲiʂɨvʲɪtɕ nəzɐrˈbajɪf].
  3. ^ Etymology of elbasy: in Turkic languages, 'el'/'il' means 'the people', 'nation', '(home)land', etc., and 'bas'/'bash' means 'head' (both literally and in the meaning of 'leader'). A similar historical title is Ilkhan.[citation needed]

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General
  • Nazarbayev, Nursultan (1998), Nursultan Nazarbayev: My Life, My Times and My Future..., Pilkington Press, ISBN 1899044191

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Bayken Ashimov
Prime Minister of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic
1984–1989
Succeeded by
Uzaqbay Qaramanov
Preceded by
Kilibay Medeubekov
Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic
1990
Succeeded by
Yerik Asanbayev
New office President of Kazakhstan
1991–2019
Succeeded by
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
(interim)
Chairman of the Security Council of Kazakhstan
1991–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Gennady Kolbin
First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan
1989–1991
Party dissolved