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Considering the power available to the Nazarbayev regime, Kazakstan's
observation of international human-rights standards in the mid-1990s was
given a relatively high rating. In one celebrated case of attempted
censorship, historian Karishal Asanov was tried three times before being
acquitted on a charge of defaming the president for an article he
published in a Moscow newspaper.
Although antigovernment activities of the nationalist-religious group
Alash have been actively discouraged, there have been no recorded
instances of extrajudicial killings or disappearances, or of
unsubstantiated grounds for arrest. Prisons are generally overcrowded
because of the eruption of crime in the republic, but international
organizations record no instances of torture or of deliberately degrading
The state security organs continue some of their Soviet-era ways; there
have been complaints that proper procedures for search warrants are not
always followed, and some credible accusations have been made about
tampering with or planting evidence in criminal proceedings. In general,
however, the republic's investigative and security organs seem to be
making an effort to follow the constitution's guidance on the
inviolability of person, property, and dwelling.
Free movement about the country is permitted, although residence is
still controlled by the Soviet-era registration system, which requires
citizens to have official permission to live in a particular city. In
practice, this system has made it almost impossible for outsiders to move
The exercise of political rights in Kazakstan is closely controlled,
and the number of parties is limited by registration restrictions.
Imposition of presidential rule and the general strengthening of the
president's role have limited popular political participation. The Russian
population has attempted to depict the imposition of language laws and the
refusal to grant dual citizenship as violations of human rights, but these
claims generally have not been accepted by the international community.
Several Russian political groups and human rights alleged that
irregularities in the August 1995 constitutional referendum invalidated
the document's ratification on human rights grounds. The nine official
foreign observers reported no major irregularities, however.
Data as of March 1996