Leave Like a Kazakh. Foreign Media on Nazarbayev’s Resignation

This is how foreign media have covered the resignation of the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev.


Follow us on LinkedIn 


На русском

The resignation of Nursultan Nazarbayev from the office of President of Kazakhstan has become a significant event in the former Soviet countries the international press could not but cover. In addition to news items about the situation in the country, Russian media have published long reads with some historical background, analysis and expectations.

Kazakhstan is the significant foreign political partner of Russia and the key member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the idea of which is ascribed to Nazarbayev in the mid of the 90s. Putin was the first one whom Nazarbayev contacted by phone to tell about his decision.

All analysts absolutely share the opinion that “in practice, Tokayev’s power would be restricted by the need to always consult his predecessor.” According to the Meduza, the constitutional reform pursued in recent years has been clearly intended to ensure early resignation of Nazarbayev from the office of president without any loss of influence.

Novaya Gazeta notes that Yelbassy (leader of the nation) has skilfully removed all major figures from the political scene of Kazakhstan in 30 years and left not a single politician who could be fully deemed a successor.

The Russian media has placed emphasis on the role of the United States and China in the change of the head of state in Kazakhstan. In the interview to TASS, Andrei Korobkov, professor of political science of Tennessee State University, said that Washington is well aware of the resource potential of the country and the significance of Kazakhstan for Russia as one of the key members of the Eurasian Union. “Therefore, they [United States] will certainly be trying to influence the process somehow, to promote their people, but it wouldn’t be that easy because the presence of the United States in Kazakhstan is relatively limited. The Americans are concerned not only with the presence of Russia, its impact on the country, but also with the potential expansion of China’s role.”

“Kazakhstan has many political forces, and a game will be played among those who are more or less prone to Russia or the United States. However, I believe that if Nazarbayev has the influence, he will maintain the multi-vector approach of Kazakhstan and good relations with Russia, United States, EU, China and other regional powers,” Sean Roberts, programme director of researches in international development of Georgetown University, said to RIA Novosti.

The respondent of the news agency also noted that in the event of successful transition of power in Kazakhstan, the next state where the same scenario is possible would be Tajikistan, led by Emomali Rahmon since early 1990s.

Pressure on the Kremlin                                          

Western media have shown less excitement about the resignation of Nazarbayev. If major global media outlets have devoted analytical material and reviews to this event, local media have published news items, at best.

The voluntary resignation of ex-president Nazarbayev should be seen through the prism of post-Soviet space and Russia, in particular.

The Guardian wrote that this manoeuvre may answer a key question for ageing post-Soviet autocrats: how to safely relinquish power in the winner-takes-all political systems that they have created. The respondent from the media, Mark Galeotti, a security analyst and the author of We Need to Talk About Putin, said that Nazarbayev’s exit strategy could provide a preview of a similar plan in the Kremlin.

Marlene Laruelle, the director of the Central Asia Programme at George Washington University, in the interview to the New York Times expressed the same opinion. According to her, the resignation of Nazarbayev is symbolically putting pressure on the Kremlin. Even if Putin, at 66, is much younger than Nazarbayev and was just elected last year to another six-year term.

Russian journalist Konstantin Eggert in his column for the Russian service of DW wrote, “First comments appeared just a few minutes after the resignation, “Nazarbayev is testing a model of resignation from presidency for Putin.” The joke is good, yet it has nothing to do with the reality. The two leaders have absolutely different political culture and history, ambitions, identity and expectations. I think Putin won’t be able to repeat Nazarbayev’s experience – even if the experience is successful, and even if he wants it.”

According to Washington Post, Nazarbayev is not the first post-Soviet autocrat to attempt to choreograph leadership change by reminding about the experience of Russia and Azerbaijan. However, the media noted that even in cases where departing leaders do pass power to a chosen successor, there are few guarantees.

They cite an example of ex-president of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambaev, who “did everything in his power to ensure that his prime minister, Sooronbai Zheenbekov, was elected Kyrgyzstan’s next president.” Once Zheenbekov took power, however, he wasted little time launching criminal investigations against members of Atambaev’s inner circle.

“With Nazarbayev’s resignation, [president of Uzbekistan Shavkat] Mirziyoyev seems likely to emerge as Central Asia’s leading statesman. Kazakhstan, now under the leadership of an interim president, will need to accept, at least in the short run, diminished influence regionally and globally,” Washington Post wrote.

Foreign experts share the opinion that the new president of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev is just a temporary figure. “The real question is, who will be Kazakhstan’s third president,” analyst Camilla Hagelund said in the interview to Reuters.

“Old and a good friend”

One more aspect discussed in foreign press is the influence of China, which is actively promoting the New Silk Road project.  Bloomberg noted the words of Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman that Beijing remains confident in bilateral cooperation and is familiar with Tokyev, who has been an “old friend and a good friend.”

Chinese media cover the resignation of Nazarbayev in the same way. According to Shanghai Daily, China has confidence in ties with Kazakhstan.

According to CGTN, since taking over the country’s top office, Nazarbayev has made over 20 official visits to Beijing. “To him, China is Kazakhstan’s “closest and most reliable friend and partner.”

A good sign for Beijing is that Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev speaks fluent Chinese.


This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project implemented with the financial support of the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial or donor.

22.03.19
More

Nursultan Nazarbayev’s Safety Cushions

Here we describe the most important posts that the ex-president of Kazakhstan continues to hold and what authorities they give.
(more…)

21.03.19
More

Nazarbayev Resigns, But This is Not Goodbye

The veteran leader is in no rush to give up real authority. (more…)

“Thank You for Everything.” Kazakhstanis on Nursultan Nazarbayev’s Resignation

The statement made by Nursultan Nazarbayev on his resignation as the leader of Kazakhstan for the last 29 years has taken people by surprise. Some hope for changes to the better, others say that the successor would pursue the Yelbassy’s (leader of the nation) policy. However, almost all recognise the decency of the first president of Kazakhstan, who was the only president until recently.


Follow us on LinkedIn 


На русском

Authors: Indira Asanova (Astana), Asem Zhapisheva (Almaty), Danil Shemratov and Dinara Bekbolayeva (Shymkent)

Although the issue of a possible resignation of the nation’s leader and now ex-president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has been discussed for a long time, even experts couldn’t foresee this situation. According to analysts, Nazarbayev once again has set an example of the leader with strategic vision – by his statement he has launched the scheme designed to maintain his authority, influence and position of his family.

See also: Nazarbayev Resigns, But This is Not Goodbye

In social media, the Kazakhstanis thank Nursultan Nazarbayev for the job he has done and for successes achieved during his presidency.

#nazarbayev resigns. What a twist. He has been president for 28 years 10 months and 23 days.

  19.03.2019

Nazarbayev has resigned. Thank you for everything

We’ve become witnesses to the historical moment in our country! This is the end of the era and the rebirth of the new one! May God give our country eternal peace and prosperity! Rakhmet, Nursultan Abishuly! Alga Kazakhstan!

According to the survey of the Kazakhstanis in various towns of the country, they seemed to be not prepared for the news. Astana residents recognise the country’s achievements under the presidency of Nursultan Nazarbayev, thank him and hope for positive changes.

Among candidates for the position of a new head of state is Imangali Tasmagambetov, current ambassador of Kazakhstan to Russia. Earlier he was deputy Prime Minister, chief of Ministry of Defence, and also mayor of Astana and Almaty.

See also: Mereke Gabdualiev on pinpoint staff decisions of Nazarbayev before resignation

Astana:

Daniyar Shaikenov, entrepreneur: This news made me sad because Nazarbayev was ruling Kazakhstan for 30 years, was a good president, and we have succeeded thanks to Nazarbayev.

Renat Kilirov, student: It was strange because it happened all of a sudden. I am shocked. Everything was under control and stable with him. The city has thrived, especially Astana.

Marina Nosova, resident of Astana: It’s sad for the country that he resigned. Maybe, it was inevitable. I hope for more improvements [from the new president], for new positive changes.

See also: Mereke Gabdualiev on pinpoint staff decisions of Nazarbayev before resignation

The residents of southern Kazakhstan have ambiguous attitude towards the president’s resignation. Almaty residents note Nazarbayev’s successes during 29 years of his presidency; however, they have different opinions of the country’s future. Some think there would be no intrigue and next year the president would only pursue the predecessor’s policy.  Others hope for changes and liberalisation.

Almaty:

Karim Kadyrbaev: I am still perplexed. I don’t remember anything like that to happen before. I can’t imagine how people behave when the head of state resigns.  I cannot understand my feelings and emotions. I agree with the people who think that nothing would change because this transit of power was not through election and the person who became the interim [president] (he means former chair of the Senate, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev) has been with Nazarbayev from the beginning. He is a person of the same system, with the same ideals and values as [Nazarbayev]. I am waiting for the news about the election and the people who will be running for presidency.

Natalia Kudarova: When I heard the news, I was shocked because Nazarbayev was my idol as a progressive figure, wise and educated. I was very disappointed. I hope the new president will pursue the policy chosen by Mr Nazarbayev.

Aleksandr: As they say, make way for youth. Just like Yeltsin made way for Putin, Nazarbayev is trying to do the same… he is not that healthy as he used to be. So, I think it was a good decision.

A resident of Almaty: This person has been in power for 30 years, with good and bad moments. In general, I would say his work was good. I take [his resignation] positively, and I hope there will be positive changes. We expect liberalisation, more freedom, no internet blocking. What we will get remains to be seen.

Shymkent residents hope for positive changes that would follow the shift in power; however, they don’t have high expectations of any changes in the public administration system.

Kairat: I want to believe that the new president will be wise, a man of principle, and very assiduous. A lot of things need to be done in the country. Or even readjusted. I want fewer ostentatious shows like exhibitions or others. If we want to be recognised globally, we shouldn’t be making international presentations, but we should improve our domestic affairs. Only then will we have really high reputation. Above all, I am expecting more deeds, fewer words from the new head of state.

Timur: I hope we will have the age of elective presidents now. Smarter reforms should be pursued. I want to thank Nazarbayev and wish that the new president be not worse than his predecessor.  Or even better.

Alisher: I have no special expectations. It would be just like in Russia and like we used to have – we will have the new president for years to come regardless of the constitutionally fixed presidential term. As for our domestic policy with its good and bad sides, the system is very firm both in economy and in society so it would be very hard to change it.

Our president used to live in Akorda (official residence of the president), while we live in Kazakhstan. He feels more comfortable there. As for us, everything happened.


This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project implemented with the financial support of the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial or donor.

Internet in Tajikistan Will Become More Expensive

The rise of Internet price in Tajikistan will not lead to an increase in state treasury tax collection, but can lead to a complete degradation of the mobile Internet market in the country, experts say.
(more…)

19.03.19
More

Uzbekistan: Life of the Tashkent-based Baha’i Community

A neat one-story house stands by the side of the lively Tashkent road. If we come closer to the door, we’ll see the sign “Tashkent-based city religious community of Baha’i”.
(more…)

The Road of Contention. The Authorities of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan Begin Negotiations After a Border Conflict

Since March 13, the confrontation between the residents of Aksai village (Kyrgyzstan) and Vorukh exclave (Tajikistan) is still ongoing. There are wounded on both sides, the Tajik media report of two dead.
(more…)

14.03.19
More

 Tajik Refugees in Europe: In Search of a Better Life

Over the past few years, thousands of Tajikistan’s citizens have been granted asylum in Western European countries. Who are they and is it easy for Tajiks to get a residence permit in Europe? (more…)

Uzbekistan: South Aral Sea Region Lacks Water

Safe drinking water is available only to 52.4 per cent of population of Karakalpakstan at the beginning of 2019, according to the Department of maintenance of interregional water pipeline Tuye-moiyn Nukus. Almost half of the people in the South Aral Sea region have to travel every day to carry clean water in buckets. If they have no access to clean water, they take water from the nearest well, outdoor water pump, or an irrigation ditch.

(more…)

Tajik Girls’ Dilemma: Marriage or Education?

In Tajikistan, many girls are forbidden to continue their studies after high school graduation. It is believed that Tajik woman’s destiny is to get married, raise children, to take care of her husband and his parents. Therefore, for many girls, a diploma of higher education becomes an obstacle to family life. (more…)

11.03.19
More

Multimedia

Our activity

IWPR Kyrgyzstan is LOOKING for a Communications INTERN

IWPR Kyrgyzstan is currently looking for a highly motivated and organized young individual for the position of the Communications Intern. We are seeking an ambitious and creative person who..

cabar.asia 02.05.18
IWPR and OSCE Academy in Bishkek To Enhance Capacity of Young Experts in Central Asia

The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and OSCE Academy in Bishkek launch the three-year project to enhance the capacity of the new generation of analysts and journalists in Centra..

cabar.asia 23.02.18
IWPR  in Tajikistan Awarded Best Journalists Covering Radicalism, Human Rights and Religious Liberties

The IWPR representative office in Tajikistan selected best journalistic materials covering the struggle against radicalism in Tajikistan in 2017...

cabar.asia 21.12.17