On February 27, 2019, in Astana, the XVIII Congress of the Nur Otan Party was held where its leader, President Nursultan Nazarbayev, gave a big speech. This article is to register that the Nur Otan forum has reflected and illustrated, in an exhaustively precise and colorful fashion, the authoritarianism of the Kazakh political system and the state structure as well as showed its crucial difference from what took place in the USSR.
Recall that, in the Soviet Union, the Communist Party (CPSU) was the only legal political party (with exception of the first and the last years of the USSR’s existence). With that, its leaders who, de-facto, were the state’s top executives with the unlimited dictator powers as, for instance, Josef Stalin was starting from the second half of the 1930s had, nonetheless, never put themselves above the party and complied (albeit, oftentimes, on a strictly nominal basis) with the party norms and rules.
By contrast with the CPSU, Nur Otan is not an independent political organization. Instead, it is an organizational structure subordinated to its leader – the fact that he, by no means, is trying to conceal. Rather, he is demonstrating it in every way possible. So, the members of the party are officially divided into two groups. The first consists of a single person, Nursultan Nazarbayev. The second consists of the rest of the party members. The principal difference between the leader and the fellow party members lies in the fact that Nazarbayev’s leadership is implied automatically, so he has never even been reelected at the scheduled congresses that are formally considered the highest executive body of the party.
For instance, at the congress that took place on February 27, 2019, they approved the party program to be implemented before 2030 called “The Prosperity Society: 10 Goals of the Decade”, the new Political Council of the party and the Central Revision Commission, made changes to the Party Charter and received the reports on the progress made by the Political Council and the Revision Commission. And, as we can see, Nur Otan’s leader who, as logics suggests, serves also as the highest party official, did not join either its Political Council or the Political Council Bureau. It is as if he is above it all.
We believe hat this kind of exclusivity on the part of Nursultan Nazarbayev results from the fact that, at the party level, he was able to achieve what he had not been able to do on the national scale. Because, as far as the party building is concerned, he has not been restricted by the external factors that forced him, at the dawn of Kazakhstan’s independence, to agree to adopt a relatively democratic constitution. The best that he was able to achieve later was the special amendments on the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, his rights, powers and benefits.
As a result, Nursultan Nazarbayev, having received the official title of the Leader of the Nation as well as the right to be reelected as the head of the state any number of times and the full immunity from criminal prosecution, has, nonetheless, remained a captive of the democratic system. As nominal as it is, it forces him to get reelected every time.
In view of this, the recent events when, thanks to the civil-political campaign launched by the democratic opposition with the active participation of the independent media as well as the unofficial pressure on the part of Western countries (first of all, the USA and certain European states), Nursultan Nazarbayev was forced to abandon the idea of transforming the Republic of Kazakhstan into a hereditary monarchy can be seen in a new light.
We will remind you that this project is known in the country as “The Super-Khan”. Rakhat Aliyev, Dariga Nazarbayeva’s first husband killed on February 24, 2015, in prison in Vienna, was one of the project’s participants and, later on, one of its active opponents.
Today, it is also becoming clear that the death of Altynbek Sarsenbayev (one of the leaders of the democratic opposition) at the hands of the NSC officers on February 12 or 13, 2006, was most likely related to the desire to transform the state structure of Kazakhstan according to the private interests.
Below is the video showing Nur Otan’s members holding a photoshoot in the chair in which Nursultan Nazarbayev was sitting during the congress. Some were photographed simply using the Nur Otan logo as the background; some pulled the tablet with the President’s name closer to themselves.