Monday, November 28, 2011

Nursultan Nazarbayev

Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev (born 6 July 1940) has served as the President of Kazakhstan since the nation received its independence in 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union. In April 2011, President Nazarbayev was reelected to another five-year term receiving 95.54 percent of the vote with 89.9 percent of registered voters participating (up from 76.8 percent in the 2005 presidential election).

Rise to power
In 1984 Nazarbayev became the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, working under Dinmukhamed Kunayev, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan.[1] He served as First Secretary of the Kazakh Communist Party from 1989 to 1991.

Nazarbayev criticized Askar Kunayev, head of the Academy of Sciences, at the 16th session of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan in January 1986 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. Mikhail Gorbachev accepted the resignation of a deflated Kunayev, replacing him with Gennady Kolbin, an ethnic Russian, triggering three days of riots known as the Jeltoqsan.

Nazarbayev replaced Kolbin, who despite his office had little authority in Kazakhstan, on 22 June 1989. He was Chairman of the Supreme Soviet (head of state) from 22 February, to 24 April 1990. Nazarbayev was elected President of Kazakhstan by the Supreme Soviet on 24 April. He won the 1991 presidential election on 1 December, winning 91.5% of the vote in an election in which no other candidate ran against him.

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 Council, under the leadership of Speaker Serikbolsyn Abdilin, began debating over a draft constitution in June 1992.

The constitution created a strong executive branch with limited checks on executive power. Opposition political parties Ezat, Zheltoqsan and the Republican Party, held demonstrations in Almaty from 10 June-17 calling for the formation of a coalition government and the resignation of the government of Prime Minister Sergey Tereshchenko and the Supreme Council. Kazakh security personnel forcibly put down the protest on 18 June 1992. The Parliament of Kazakhstan, composed of Communist Party legislators who had yet to stand in an election since the country gained its independence, adopted the constitution on 28 January 1993.

An April 1995 referendum extended his 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. An election requires two or more candidates running in opposition. A single candidate is not an election but a referendum. On May 18, 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: the original constitution's prescribed maximum of two presidential terms will still apply to all future presidents of Kazakhstan.

Nazarbayev appointed Altynbek Sarsenbayev, who at the time served as the Minister of Culture, Information and Concord, the Secretary of the Kazakh Security Council, replacing Marat Tazhin, on 4 May 2001. Tazhin became the Chairman of the National Security Council, replacing Alnur Musayev. Musayev became the head of the Guards' Service of the President.

His government's policies are considered moderate and maintain a balance between the United States and Russia. 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. Bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to $724 million in 2005. He initiated the move of the administration from Almaty to Astana.

A former minister in the Nazarbayev government, Zamanbek K. Nurkadilov, said that President Nazarbayev ought to answer allegations that Kazakh officials had accepted millions of US dollars in bribes from an intermediary for U.S. oil firms in the 1990s.

In 2004 Transparency International ranked Kazakhstan 122nd (tied with several other nations) in its listing of 146 countries by level of corruption. Kazakhstan's total score out of 10, with 10 being the best, was 2.2 (any score under 3 indicated "rampant corruption). President Nazarbayev declared a holy war against corruption and ordered the adoption of "10 steps against corruption"  to fight corruption at all levels of state and society.

A few international NGOs have accused the Nazarbayev government of merely paying lip service to anti-corruption efforts. Despite becoming the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe chair in 2010, some civil activists inside and outside the country stated little was done to address “human rights abuses” and “widespread corruption”. The Nazarbayev family itself was embroiled in a series of investigations by Western governments into money laundering, bribery, and assassinations. Among these investigations was the so-called Kazakhgate, as the result of which the US Department of Justice did not find Nazarbayev family guilty and closed the case in August 2010.

Personal life
He was born in in Chemolgan, Kazakh SSR, Soviet Union, and is married to Sara Alpysqyzy Nazarbayeva, with whom he has three daughters; Dariga, Dinara and Aliya. Dariga was married to Rakhat Aliyev, son of a former minister of healthcare, who served as the First Deputy Foreign Minister and twice as the Kazakh Ambassador to Austria. Dinara is married to Timur Kulibayev, son of a former Minister of Construction, who serves as the First Deputy Chairman of the national holding company Samruk-Kazyna, which manages several state-owned companies and, formerly, as the first Vice President of the state-owned petroleum company KazMunaiGas. Aliya is a prominent businesswoman. She was married to a Aidar Akayev, the son of former Kyrgyz President, Askar Akaev. Now she is married to Daniyar Khassenov, a Kazakhstani businessman.

Nazarbayev is a practicing[citation needed] Muslim. Previously he espoused anti-religious views in the Soviet era; he has now exerted effort to highlight his Muslim heritage by performing the Hajj pilgrimage, and supporting mosque renovations. At the same time, he has been attempting to combat terrorism in Kazakhstan.

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) as reported by the Central Electoral Commission of Kazakhstan, an estimation criticized by the OSCE and other election watchdog organizations. Nazarbayev was sworn in for another seven-year term on 11 January 2006.

Nazarbayev himself has been called one of the "ultimate oligarchs" of the post-Soviet central Asia states. He is believed to have transferred at least $1 billion worth of oil revenues to his private bank accounts in other countries and his family controls many other key enterprises in Kazakhstan. He is also said to have benefited financially from his "special relations" with Kazakh-Israeli businessman Alexander Mashkevich, who, as of 2004[update], was believed to control as much as one-fourth of Kazakhstan's economy.

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