Nursultan Nazarbaev: A focus on ethnocracy

Unlike his many competitors, Nazarbaev turned out to be completely ready for sovereignty and independent political activity. Having gone in the 1980s through all major stages of party-soviet nomenclature, he know how to preserve power in his hands unlike some inexperienced and too populist politicians of the time.

..This year the irreplaceable president of Kazakhstan N. Nazarbaev is turning 77 years old. In advance of that date we started publication of his biography “Nursultan Nazarbaev. Stages of career, system of interests and political power” (read Nursultan Nazarbaev: career, interests, power and Nursultan Nazarbaev. Ascension to the top), written in 2005 by a famous Kazakh scientist, history PhD, professor Nurbolat Masanov for activists of the civic society.

In some ways this may be a subjective view on the personality of the first president of the country, but, undoubtedly, one deserving of attention of all, interested in history of Kazakhstan…

Part III. Nursultan Nazarbaev. A focus on ethnocracy

Despite the severe economic crisis and mass emigration of the Russian-speaking population out of the country, total critique in mass media, Nursultan Nazarbaev was able to consolidate political elite and society around his candidacy, was able to neutralize his multiple critics and opponents, and mobilize efforts of the government apparatus on solving of planned goals.

To start, it was necessary to unite political elite, old nomenclature and Kazakh intelligentsia, and for that he made a bet of ethnocracy – creation of the Kazakh state. He announced the natural-historical right  of Kazakhs for government-political dominance on the territory of Kazakhstan, priority development of Kazakh language as the main object of government protectionism and integrating role of Kazakh culture in the life of Kazakhstani government.

Unmistakable bet on ethnocracy consolidated entire Kazakh ethnos around the person of Nursultan nazrbaev and personified him as an all-national and ethnic leader of the Kazakh people. Kazakhization of the government apparatus secured him a total support of the Kazakh political elite and national intelligentsia. This allowed him to completely isolate all political opponents among Kazakhs.

In the conditions of emerging sovereignty, that was announced as the main national idea, Nursultan Nazarbaev forced society to give him complete bank check for creating a state ethnic in form, and authoritarian in nature. And if before, as a politician and government activist he played under by others rules, now he himself started to create the rules and the political environment.

Now everyone else – entire society, elite, intelligentsia, and most importantly all opponents – started to play by his own rules. He started to determine parameters of living space of the population of entire state, he started to dictate conditions of living of various ethnic groups. He became the master of life.

For the most part it was the game without rules, which changed every minute and situationally depending of political viability and political interests of the ruling elite. His opponents, mass media and civic society suffered the most.

In establishing new rules of the game, he had to overcome not only resistance form separate individuals, which was usual for such a politician, as him, but most importantly he needed to learn to overcome stereotypes in the public mind. He had to learn to manipulate the nations, public opinion, stereotypes. And here Nazarbaev demonstrated qualities of a great politician.

He learned not only to use stereotypes and public misconceptions in his own personal interest, as is done by a world-class fighter in combat sports, when the rhythm and direction of movement of the opponent is used against him, but he learned to create public stereotypes, false principles and ideals, forced Kazakhstani society to believe in false gods and live by his rules.

With the goal of creating of Unitarian government on January 13 1992, the Supreme Court on Nazarbaev’s advice, made a decision of disbanding of local assemblies and introducing of presidential rule in oblasts through appointed representatives of the president and started to gradually build a new authoritarian-ethnocratic model of Kazakhstani government from ground up.

In January of 1993, Supreme court has passed a new constitution. Constitution stated that the right to speak on behalf of all people of Kazakhstan belongs to Supreme court and the president within the limits of their constitutional authority. It was declared that governmental power in Republic of Kazakhstan is based on the principle of its division on legislative, executive and judicial branches. In accordance with norms of constitution it was declared that government bodies within the limits of their authority are independent, and interact with each other by the use of checks and balances.

Constitution stated, that President of the Republic of Kazakhstan is the head of the government and heads the single system of executive power of the republic. President serves as a backer of adherence to rights and freedoms of citizens, constitution and laws of the republic. President is elected for the term of five years and a person cannot be president for more than two consecutive terms.

Presdient of the republic takes necessary means for protecting of government sovereignty, constitution order, provision of security, territorial integrity of the republic, rights and freedoms of citizens. He signs laws and has a right to turn away a law with his objection to the supreme court for repeat discussion and voting; with the consent of the Supreme court he appoints prime minister, deputy prime minister, ministers of foreign affairs, defense, finance, internal affairs, chairman of the committee on national security, and heads of diplomatic delegations of Republic of Kazakhstan; he manages general administration of activities of the cabinet of ministers. With the help of prime minister, he determines the body of the cabinet of ministers; creates and dissolves ministries, government committees; he either cancels or stops the validity of bills of the cabinet of ministers, ministries, government committees, etc. he forms the security committee and other advisory bodies; he confirms government programs; he determines the order terms and conditions of functioning of the national currency; after consulting with the Supreme court he makes decisions regarding holding a referendum. He represents republic of Kazakhstan in international relations; holds talks and signs international agreements, secures adherence to signed agreements by the republic and taken responsibilities; confirm credentials of accredited under him diplomatic and other representatives of foreign governments. He addresses people of Republic of Kazakhstan and its Supreme court with messages, presents annual reports on the state of the republic to Supreme court and presents it with candidacy of chairman and judges of constitutional court, Supreme court High commercial court, general persecutor, etc. He also comes with presentations to supreme assembly to end their duty, he is a commander of chief of military forces. He awards government medals of Republic of Kazakhstan, decides with accordance by law matters of political asylum and others.

In addition to such a gigantic concentration of authority “President, on the basis and for the sake of fulfilling constitution and laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan issues orders and acts, having binding power throughout the territory of the republic” (p. 79).

After in october of 1993, Boris Yeltsin dissolved the Supreme board of the Russian federation, on december 13 1993 under pressure from Nazarbaev an organized by his accomplices there was a dissolution of the Supreme board of the 12-convocation. In its last decision Supreme board transferred to president the right to pass laws of the country as a temporary measre.

On March 7th 1994 Nazarbaev organized parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan that were plagued by despotism and big abuse of power. At the same time electoral districts were drawn in such a way that number of electors in electoral districts of cities were 3-4 times larger than in rural areas. The numerical value of the Supreme board of the 13th convocation was cut down from 350 to 177 deputies. Majority of representatives of the democratic opposition and civic society were simply nor registered as candidates for deputy seats, for example, Sergey Duvanov. Evgeniy Jovtis, etc.

In order to secure control over the composition of the Supreme board and the numerical predominance of Kazakhs in the parliament of the country, since ethnocracy consolidated Kazakhs around the president, 42 deputies incorporate into the Supreme board as part of the so-called government list, consisting of deputies, mostly ethnic Kazakhs proposed personally by president Nazarbaev.

OSCE observers, present at the elections, announced that the elections came with severe violations of democratic procedures.

Despite the fact that the president was able to put most of his appointees into the Supreme board, the share of independent deputies in the parliament was still quite significant. During the elections of the chairman of the supreme board, a severe fight broke out between the president’s protégé, a native of elder juz, U. Joldasbekov and an independent candidate Gaziz Aldamjarov, leader of the oppositional Socialist party. Understanding that his protégé has no chance of winning, Nazarbaev went for a compromise with the clan elites, who had supported another pro-presidential ally Abish Kekilbaev, from the younger juz, who became the head of the Supreme board.

Thus, in order to establish control over the Supreme board Nazarbaev settled for its voluntary dissolution in 1993, decreased its numerical value by half , facilitated the unequal division of electoral districts, organized falsification of parliamentary elections, artificially decreased representation in the parliament of the Russian population, but in the end was unable to even bring his protégé for a position in the board.

Not long before that, a similar fiasco was awaiting the president at the elections of the president of academy of sciences, when his protégé (same Joldasbekov) was destroyed at the general assembly of the members of the academy of the republic; thus the destiny of the supreme board was foregone.

Only half-a-year later, president Nazarbaev has found a reason for a new dissolution of the supreme board. On march 11 1995 the supreme board of the 13th convocation was dissolved. The reason was deputy Tatiana Kviatkovskaia’s legal action to the constitutional court with the demand to admit that elections in her district were not aligned with the constitution.

After looking at the lawsuit, constitutional court not only protested the results on the Abylaikhan district, but has called the act of Centerizberkom on formation of electoral districts and the metod of calculation votes (in which in order to vote against someone, you had to cross off last names of candidates, and all remaining ones were considered to have received a yes vote), unconstitutional.

On march 8th 1995 president’s apparatus has prepared objections to the decision of the constitutional court, but they were phrased in the way in which they could be belied. As a result Nazarbaev’s act on “means, resulting from the act of constitutional court” was released, on the basis of which, supreme board has been dissolved.

Portion of deputies tried to resist the dissolution: A so-called people’s parliament has been created, which for a couple of days was headed by leader of the NKK Oljas Suleimenov, a hunger strike was announced with participation from up to 130 deputies, but it didn’t last longer than a day. On Nazarbaev’s demand, the building where people’s parliament assembled had water and power cut off. Deputies didn’t have much courage to fight for their rights.

By March 17th 1995 declared opposition of the supreme board was easily overcome through a factual dissolution. Pro-presidential parliamentary members refused to oppose the president, and one of the informal leaders Oljas Suleimenov even accepted an honorary exile, the post of ambassador to Italy. Recognition of parliamentary elections as illegitimate and dissolution of the supreme board were needed for Nazarbaev, in opinion of some experts, in order to pass some decrees, that had legal power: “On the government” “on the president”, on private ownership of land, on Russian language as a secondary governmental one, for hosting an all-national referendum one extending his term.

In opinion of other experts, dissolution of the supreme board was part of the overall plan of Nazarbaev on capture of complete power in the country. Following events fully proved this point of view. No more than a month after dissolution of the supreme board – on april 29, 1995, Nazarbaev hosted a referendum on extending of his powers until 2000. At the referendum a reported 95.4% of electors voted for extending of presidential powers. Exactly 4 months after this he hosted another referendum on passing of yet another constitution of the republic of Kazakhstan.

In the period of inter-parliamentary vacuum from march until december of 1995 – president Nazarbaev single-handedly released 511 decrees of which 132 have legal power (Mayliabev B Formation and evolution of the institute of presidency of Republic of Kazakhstan: problems, tendencies, prospects (an experience of political-legal research) Almaty, 2001, p. 368).

In that period, having captured the right to pass legislations in the country Nazarbaev essentially created a new legislative system in the country, having passed hundreds of key laws in all of the more important issues of functioning of the government-political system of the country. This universal legislative base was created by him for himself in the interests of the authoritarian government and the regime of personal power. New constitution of Kazakhstan became the apogee of his legislative decisions.

As a result of constitutional reforms, Kazakhstan became a superpresidential republic, parliament’s authority was minimized, and it essentially became an advisory body under the president. A new  upper chamber of parliament was created – the senate, that was meant to filter out legislative initiatives of the lower chamber – Majilis. Number of Majilis deputies was decrease again – now down to 67 deputies. Constitutional court devised to interpret articles of constitution and legislation of the country, was dissolved and replaced with the amorphous constitutional assembly, that didn’t have any real authority. Finally institutions of representative power as an institute of power, were put under complete control of the president.

New constitution stated that president of the Republic of Kazakhstan is the head of the state, its highest functionary, determining main directions of domestic and foreign policy of the state and representing Kazakhstan within the countries and in international relations. He is a symbol and backer of the unity of the people and government power, constitution, rights and freedoms of a person and a citizen. President of the republic provides cooperated functioning of all branches of government power and responsibility of institutions before the people.

President of the Republic of Kazakhstan addresses people of Kazakhstan with an annual message on the state of affairs in the country and main directions in domestic and foreign policy of the Republic; he calls for ordinary and special elections of the parliament of republic; assembles first session of the parliament and takes an oath of its deputies to the people of Kazakhstan; assembles ordinary and mutual meetings of the chambers of parliament; signs presented by the senate of the parliament law, and presents it to the public or returns it for repeated discussion and voting. With consent of the parliament he appoints the prime minister of the republic; relieves him of his duties; with the proposition from prime minister he determines the structure of the government of the republic, appoints to positions and relieves off it its members, and also creates, dissolves and reorganizes central executive bodies of the republic, that are not part of the government. He also presides over sessions of the government on the more important matters; he order to the government introduction of a legislation into Majilis of the parliament; he cancels or completely halts the effect of decrees of the government and akims of oblasts, and cities of republic significance.

At the same time president with the approval of the parliament appoints to the position chairman of the national bank of the Republic of Kazakhstan; relieves him of his position. With approval of the senate of the parliament he appoints head persecutor and chairman of the committee on national security of the republic; relieves them off their duties, appoints and recalls heads of diplomatic embassies of the republic; appoints to the position with a five-year term, the chairman and two members of the accounts committee for control over execution of the republican budget. He confirms governmental programs of the republic; with proposal from the prime minister he confirms single system of financing and paying for the labor of workers of all institutions , financed through government budget of the republic; he makes decisions on hosting a republican referendum; he holds negotiations and signs international treaties of the republic; he signs instruments of ratification, accepts credentials and letters of recall of accredited under him diplomatic and other delegates of foreign countries. He is also the commander in chief of armed forces of the republic. He appoints and fires the highest echelons of armed forces; awards with government medals of the republic, gives out honorary and high military and other ranks, class ranks, diplomatic ranks, qualification classes; solves issues of citizenship of republic, providing of asylum; he does amnesty of citizens; has the right to introduce throughout the territory of Kazakhstan and in separate areas a state of emergency and use of armed forces, he has the right to introduce( on the entire territory and in separate areas) a martial law. He announced partial or full mobilization; forms subjected to him presidential security service and republican guard; appoints and relives off duties government secretary of the republic of Kazakhstan, determines his status and authority; he forms presidential administration of the republic, forms security council, highest judicial board, etc.

President of the republic of Kazakhstan, on the basis of and in pursuance of constitution and its laws, issues decrees and orders that have a binding power on the entire territory of the republic. In exclusive circumstances he may sign laws as well as treaties that have a legal power in the republic.

At the same time honor and dignity of the president are untouchable. He carries responsibility for the actions committed during fulfillment of his duties only in the case of treason and can be suspended from his position by the parliament. Thus, a foundation for the authoritarian-ethnocratic government was created in Kazakhstan, a creator of which was president Nursultan Nazarbaev himself. Everything was subjected to this grand Plan – from legislative-institutional actions of bodies of power to individual efforts of every citizen of the country. The process of erection of the pyramid of power of president Nazarbaev and his capture of entirety of power in the country continues to this day but the fundamental legislative foundations were laid back then.


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