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Kazakstan - GOVERNMENT

Kazakstan - Government


In 1995 Kazakstan passed through a period of political turmoil that fundamentally changed the shape of the republic's government and political forces. The republic came under direct presidential rule in March 1995, and a new constitution adopted shortly thereafter strengthened the power of the executive. Presidential elections, originally scheduled for sometime in 1996, were postponed until December 2000 after a 1995 referendum provided the basis for such an extension.


In May 1995, Nazarbayev convened a council of experts to draw up a new constitution under his guidance. The resulting constitution was adopted in August 1995 by a popular referendum. The official participation figure, 90 percent, and the fairness of this vote were contested by opposition groups. The constitution guarantees equal rights to all nationalities and prescribes both Kazak and Russian as "official" state languages, suitable for use in government documents and education. The president and the legislature, the Supreme Kenges (Supreme Soviet), are to be elected by universal adult suffrage for five-year terms. The president is head of state. The second component of the executive branch is the Council of Ministers, key members of which are presidential appointees. The prime minister, as head of the Council of Ministers, appoints the other ministers.

<>Structure of Government
<>The Election of 1994
<>Political Organizations
<>The Media
<>Human Rights
<>Foreign Policy


Kazakstan - Structure of Government


The postindependence government was structured by the 1993 constitution with a strong executive branch, a parliament, and a judicial branch. In practice, the administration of Nursultan Nazarbayev dominated governance sufficiently to impel the writing of a new constitution providing justification for the one-man rule that developed in the early 1990s.

Executive Branch

The constitution formalizes the increased power that President Nazarbayev assumed upon the invalidation of parliament in early 1995. It continues the previous constitutional definition of Kazakstan as a unitary state with a presidential form of government. The president is the highest state officer, responsible for naming the government--subject to parliamentary approval--and all other republic officials. The 1995 constitution expands the president's power in introducing and vetoing legislation. The government that the president appoints consists of the Council of Ministers, headed by a prime minister, and several state committees. In early 1996, after Nazarbayev had reshuffled the government in October 1995, the Council of Ministers included the heads of twenty-one ministries and nine state committees; the prime minister was Akezhan Kazhegeldin. In the October 1995 shift, Nazarbayev himself assumed the portfolio of the Ministry of National Security.

The new constitution does not provide for the position of vice president, although it permitted the incumbent vice president, Yerik Asanbayev, to remain in office until 1996. The president has the power to declare states of emergency during which the constitution can be suspended. The president is the sponsor of legislation and the guarantor of the constitution and of the proper functioning of government, with the power to override the decisions and actions of local authorities and councils. The only grounds on which a president can be removed are infirmity and treason, either of which must be confirmed by a majority of the joint upper and lower houses of the new parliament. In the event of such a removal from power, the prime minister would become the temporary president.

Legislative Branch

The 1993 constitution created a unicameral parliament, which was to replace the 350-seat Supreme Soviet when the mandates of that body's deputies expired in 1995. Composed overwhelmingly of career communists, the 1990 parliament had been a balky and turgid partner for the task of economic and political reform. Although he probably lacked the legal authority to do so, Nazarbayev pressured this parliament into a "voluntary" early dissolution in December 1993 in order to allow the seating of a smaller and presumably more pliant "professional parliament." Under the 1995 constitution, the parliament consists of two houses, the Senate and the Majlis, both operating in continuous session. Each of Kazakstan's nineteen provinces and the city of Almaty, which has province status, have two senators. These are chosen for four-year terms by joint sessions of the provinces' legislative bodies. An additional seven senators are appointed directly by the president. In addition, ex-presidents automatically receive the status of senators-for-life. The Majlis has sixty-seven representatives, including one from each of fifty-five districts drawn to have roughly equal populations, and the Senate has forty seats. Direct elections for half the seats are held every two years. In the first election under the new parliamentary structure, all seats in both houses of parliament were contested in December 1995; runoff elections filled twenty-three seats in the Majlis for which the initial vote was inconclusive. International observers reported procedural violations in the Majlis voting. The new parliament, which was seated in January 1996, included sixty-eight Kazak and thirty-one Russian deputies; only ten deputies were women.

The initiative for most legislative actions originates with the president. If parliament passes a law that the president vetoes, a two-thirds vote of both houses is required to override the veto. A similar margin is needed to express no confidence in a prime minister, an action that requires the president to name a new prime minister and Council of Ministers.

Judicial System

The judicial system is the least developed of Kazakstan's three branches of government. Although Minister of Justice Nagashibay Shaykenov objected strenuously, the constitution retains the practice of presidential appointment of all judges in the republic. The 1993 constitution specified terms of service for judges, but the 1995 document makes no mention of length of service, suggesting that judges will serve at the president's pleasure.

Under the 1993 constitution, lines of judicial authority were poorly defined, in part because the republic had three "highest courts"--the Supreme Court, the State Arbitrage Court, and the Constitutional Court--which among them employed a total of sixty-six senior judges. Many of these senior judges, as well as numerous judges in lower courts, had been retained from the Soviet era, when the judicial branch was entirely under the control of the central government. The 1995 constitution makes no provision for the State Abritrage Court, which had heard economic disputes among enterprises and between enterprises and government agencies. Provisions for the new judiciary clearly subordinate all other courts to the Supreme Court, which also has a consultative role in appointing senior judges.

Local Government

Kazakstan is divided into nineteen provinces, and the city of Almaty has administrative status equal to that of a province. In turn, the provinces are divided into regions that consist of a number of settlement points. Each province and region and most settlements have their own elective councils, charged with drawing up a budget and supervising local taxation. Cities have their own local councils as well, and large cities are divided into regions, each of which has its own council.

The local legislatures lack the authority to choose the local executive, who is appointed directly by the president. The local executive has the job of ensuring that decisions of the national government are enforced and that the constitution is observed. Province and regional "heads of administration," known by the Russian term glav or the Kazak term hakim , are presidential appointees. The hakim , in turn, appoints the members of his staff, who are the department heads of the jurisdiction. The hakim also can reverse budgetary decisions of the local councils.

There has been considerable pressure, especially in the predominantly Russian north, to make the hakim posts elective rather than appointive. In 1994 Nazarbayev indicated that he would consider doing so, but the 1995 constitution provides only that the local councils can express no confidence in their hakim by a two-thirds vote. The president also has the power to override or revoke decisions taken by local councils; a hakim has the power to control budgetary decisions taken by the local council.


Kazakstan - The Election of 1994


After the early dissolution in 1993 of Kazakstan's first parliament, an election for the 177 seats of the new, "professional" parliament was held in March 1994. The election was so closely managed and restricted by the government that observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE; before 1995, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe--CSCE--see Glossary) initially were reluctant to certify the election as fair.

Despite his careful electoral management, Nazarbayev netted a reliable bloc of only about sixty of the 177 seats. The remaining deputies quickly organized themselves into a "constructive" opposition bloc, a center-left configuration calling itself Respublika. It included a number of disparate political groups. A subgroup of Respublika organized a shadow cabinet to provide alternative viewpoints and programs to those of the government.

At the end of May 1994, the parliament passed a vote of no confidence in the government of Prime Minister Sergey Tereshchenko, who had been in office since 1991. Nazarbayev put off dismissing Tereshchenko, citing the provision of the 1993 constitution giving the president the right to name the prime minister, subject only to parliamentary confirmation. By midyear, however, parliament was in rebellion against the president, and a new faction of Respublika, including a broad range of communist, nationalist, and special-issue parties, demanded the resignations of Nazarbayev and Tereshchenko.

In mid-October, following a month-long scandal over the private dealings of Tereshchenko's ministers of internal affairs and the economy (the second of whom was indicted), Nazarbayev was finally forced to dismiss the Tereshchenko government. Nazarbayev named industrialist Akezhan Kazhegeldin to replace Tereshchenko. As chief of a northern industrial conglomerate, Kazhegeldin, a Kazak, was closely associated with the Russian-controlled sector of Kazakstan prior to 1991.

Thus, by late 1994 parliament was emerging as a particular focus for anti-Nazarbayev sentiment. Although extremely unproductive itself, passing only seven laws during its year of existence, parliament severely impeded Nazarbayev's privatization programs, causing the complete cessation of privatization voucher distribution. At the end of 1994, the parliament issued its own alternative New Economic Policy, in competition with Nazarbayev's, and parliament also attempted to take over actual disbursement of funds for the state budget. At the same time, parliament was providing a forum for several skilled and well-financed men to position themselves for a challenge to Nazarbayev in the presidential election scheduled for 1996.

In March 1995, Kazakstan's Constitutional Court ruled the 1994 parliamentary election invalid because of procedural irregularities that, among other things, waived certain requirements for pro-Nazarbayev candidates. After filing a token objection, Nazarbayev announced the dissolution of parliament and new elections to be held in two or three months. The Council of Ministers that had been approved by that parliament then resigned en masse. Using emergency powers granted him upon the dissolution of the 1990-93 parliament, Nazarbayev reappointed Prime Minister Kazhegeldin, who installed a new Council of Ministers. Unlike its virtually all-Kazak predecessor, the new body put the key Ministry of Finance under a Russian, Aleksandr Pavlov, and gave the Ministry of the Economy portfolio to a Middle Horde Kazak from the Russified north. One of Kazhegeldin's two new first deputy prime ministers was Kazak; the other was Russian. The new head of the Privatization Commission, Sarybay Kalmurzayev, also apparently was a Middle Horder. He not only began to permit privatization auctioneers to accept cash in addition to vouchers, but also began to give Russian companies rights of first refusal in privatization of large industrial plants, especially military ones. In April 1995, Nazarbayev staged a referendum that ratified extension of his presidency until December 2000 by a 95 percent majority. In December 1995, Nazarbayev issued a decree enabling him to annul any existing law, demand the government's resignation, or order new parliamentary elections. This step furthered the authoritarian direction of Kazakstan's government.


Kazakstan - Political Organizations


Economic and ethnic differentiation in Kazakstan has led to the appearance of more than 2,000 social organizations, movements, political parties, and social action funds across a broad political spectrum. Although Nazarbayev prevented electoral participation by many opposition parties, the formation and reformation of parties and coalitions have occurred at a rapid pace in the postindependence years. In the parliamentary election of December 1995, thirty parties and other organizations registered candidates.

The President's Party

Significantly, the one type of party that has failed to thrive in Kazakstan is a "presidential party" that would serve as a training ground for future officials, as well as a conduit for their advancement. Nazarbayev lost control of his first two attempts at forming parties, the Socialists and the People's Congress Party (NKK). The latter particularly, under the leadership of former Nazarbayev ally Olzhas Suleymenov, became a center of parliamentary opposition. Nazarbayev's third party, the People's Unity Party (SNEK), remained loyal to the president, although it was unable, even with considerable government help, to elect enough deputies to give Nazarbayev control of the 1994-95 parliament. SNEK formally incorporated itself as a political party in February 1995.

Other Parties

With the exception of SNEK and some smaller entities, such as the Republican Party and an entrepreneurial association known as For Kazakstan's Future, most of Kazakstan's parties and organizations have little or no influence on presidential decision making. Because privatization and the deteriorating economy have left most citizens much worse off than they were in the early 1990s, most of the republic's organizations and parties have an oppositional or antipresidential character.

The Communist Party of Kazakstan, declared illegal in 1991, was allowed to re-register in 1993. Kazakstan also has a small Socialist Democratic Party. Both parties made poor showings in the 1994 election, but two former communist organizations, the State Labor Union (Profsoyuz) and the Peasants' Union, managed to take eleven and four seats, respectively.

Nationalist Groups

At least four large Kazak nationalist movements were active in the mid-1990s. Three of them--Azat (Freedom), the Republican Party, and Zheltoksan (December)--attempted to form a single party under the name Azat, with the aim of removing "colonialist" foreign influences from Kazakstan. The fourth movement, Alash (named for the legendary founder of the Kazak nation, as well as for the pre-Soviet nationalist party of the same name), refused to join such a coalition because it advocated a more actively nationalist and pro-Muslim line than did the other three parties. In the March 1994 election, Azat and the Republicans were the only nationalist parties to run candidates. They elected just one deputy between them.

Four exclusively Russian political organizations in Kazakstan have nationalist or federative agendas. These are Yedinstvo (Unity), Civic Contract, Democratic Progress, and Lad (Harmony). Party registration procedures for the 1994 election made places on the ballot very difficult to obtain for the Russian nationalist groups. Although Lad was forced to run its candidates without party identification, four deputies were elected with ties to that party.

The Russian group most unsettling to the Nazarbayev government was the Cossacks, who were denied official registration, as well as recognition of their claimed status as a distinct ethnic group in the northeast and northwest. Not permitted to drill, carry weapons, or engage in their traditional military activities, Kazakstan's Cossacks have, in increasing numbers, crossed the border into Russia, where restrictions are not as tight.

Opposition Coalitions

In 1994 parliament's success at countering presidential power encouraged the legislators, many of whom were connected with the former Soviet ruling elite, to use their training in the political infighting of Soviet bureaucracy to form effective antipresidential coalitions. Ironically, these coalitions were the only political groupings in the republic that transcended ethnic differences. The Respublika group was elastic enough to contain both Kazak and Russian nationalists, and the Otan-Otechestvo organization forged a coalition of Kazaks, Russians, and even Cossacks who desired a return to Soviet-style political and social structures.


Kazakstan - Nazarbayev


Public opinion in Kazakstan appears to have accepted the imposition of presidential rule, at least partly because the parliament Nazarbayev dissolved had focused on its own wages and benefits rather than on solving the nation's problems. In the short run, the imposition of direct presidential rule seemed likely to reduce ethnic tensions within the republic. Indeed, one of Nazarbayev's primary justifications for assuming greater power was the possibility that bolstered presidential authority could stem the growing ethnic hostility in the republic, including a general rise in anti-Semitism.

The ethnic constituency whose appeasement is most important is, however, the Russians, both within the republic and in Russia proper. Stability in Kazakstan is overwhelmingly shaped by developments in Russia, especially as that country returns its attention to some measure of reintegration of the former Soviet empire. Because of Kazakstan's great vulnerability to Russian political, economic, and military intervention, experts assume that Russian national and ethnic interests play a considerable part in Nazarbayev's political calculations (see Foreign Policy; National Security Prospects, this ch.).

It also seems likely that Nazarbayev would use presidential rule to increase the linguistic and cultural rights of the republic's Russians. Although Nazarbayev had taken a firm stand on the issue of formal dual citizenship, a treaty he and Russia's president, Boris N. Yeltsin, signed in January 1995 all but obviated the language question by permitting citizens of the respective countries to own property in either republic, to move freely between them, to sign contracts (including contracts for military service) in either country, and to exchange one country's citizenship for the other's. When the Kazak parliament ratified that agreement, that body also voted to extend to the end of 1995 the deadline by which residents must declare either Kazakstani or Russian citizenship. After the dissolution of that parliament, Kazakstan considered extending the deadline until 2000, as Russia already had done.

In the mid-1990s, Nazarbayev seemed likely to face eventual opposition from Kazak nationalists if he continued making concessions to the republic's Russians. Such opposition would be conditioned, however, by the deep divisions of ethnic Kazaks along clan and family lines, which give some of them more interests in common with the Russians than with their ethnic fellows. The Kazaks also have no institutions that might serve as alternative focuses of political will. Despite a wave of mosque building since independence, Islam is not well established in much of the republic, and there is no national religious-political network through which disaffected Kazaks might be mobilized.

The lack of an obvious venue for expression of popular dissatisfaction does not mean, however, that none will materialize. Nazarbayev gambled that imposition of presidential rule would permit him to transform the republic's economy and thus placate the opposition through an indisputable and widespread improvement of living standards. Experts agree that the republic has the natural resources and industrial potential to make this a credible wager. But a number of conditions outside Nazarbayev's control, such as the political climate in Russia and the other Central Asian states, would influence that outcome. By dismissing parliament and taking upon himself the entire burden of government, Nazarbayev made himself the obvious target for the public discontent that radical transformations inevitably produce.


Kazakstan - The Media


Kazakstan has enjoyed the same flourishing of media as have most of the other former Soviet republics. To some extent, the republic also continues to be influenced by the Moscow media, although changes in currency and the simple passage of time are steadily reducing that influence. Also similar to the processes in other republics is a certain erosion of the freedom that the media enjoyed in the earlier days of independence. Although the government always has retained some control, there was a certain tendency to view the proper relationship between the media and government as adversarial. However, Nazarbayev steadily chipped away at Kazakstan's central press, which as a result became more noticeably pro-government in 1994 and 1995. The 1995 constitution guarantees freedom of ideas and expression and explicitly bans censorship. In practice, however, the government influences the press in several ways. Government presses (the only ones available) have refused to publish private newspapers for various "technical" reasons; financial pressure has been brought through court cases or investigations of a given newspaper's sponsors; and, in some cases, outright censorship has been exercised for "security reasons." Strictly enforced laws forbid personal criticism of the president or members of the president's family.

The major official newspapers are the Russian-language Kazakstanskaya pravda and Sovety Kazakstana , which are supported by the government. Nominally, the former is the organ of the Council of Ministers and the latter that of the parliament. The newspaper Ekspress K has taken some independent positions, although in the mid-1990s the editor in chief was a senior official in SNEK, the presidential political party. The small-edition papers Respublika and NKK are somewhat more oppositional. The first was the organ of the Socialist Party until it was sold to commercial interests, and the second is the organ of the People's Congress Party. Respublika is said to be underfinanced, but NKK enjoys the resources of Olzhas Suleymenov's large Nevada-Semipalatinsk commercial organization. Panorama , perhaps the largest independent newspaper in the republic, is owned by some of the largest business interests in the republic and is oriented toward political and economic issues (on which it generally takes an objective view). The Karavan commercial organization publishes two newspapers, Karavan and ABV (short for Almaty Business News). The former inclines toward tabloid-style muckraking, while the latter is entirely commercial in character.

The electronic media remain under state control. Many private production companies exist, but access to television and radio is still controlled by the State Television and Radio Broadcasting Corporation (see Transportation and Telecommunications, this ch.).

As it does most activities, ethnicity complicates media operations. Inevitably the nationality of the owners of a newspaper or television production company affects how its product is received. The most obvious example is that of the newspaper Karavan . Although its muckraking approach is similar to that taken by newspapers in Moscow and Bishkek, the fact that the paper is Russian-owned makes it seem, in the context of Kazakstan, to be more vividly partisan. In early 1995, a fire in the Karavan warehouse prompted rumors of sabotage, which never were substantiated.


Kazakstan - Human Rights


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 treatment.

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 into Almaty.

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.


Kazakstan - Foreign Policy


From the onset of independence, President Nazarbayev sought international support to secure a place for Kazakstan in the world community, playing the role of bridge between East and West, between Europe and Asia.

Almost immediately upon its declaration of independence, the republic gained a seat in the United Nations, membership in the CSCE, and a seat on the coordinating council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO--see Glossary). The United States and other nations also gave Kazakstan quick recognition, opening embassies in Almaty and receiving Kazakstani ambassadors in return. Its status as an apparent nuclear power got Kazakstan off to a fast start in international diplomacy. President Nazarbayev became a signatory to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and its so-called Lisbon Protocol by which Belarus, Kazakstan, and Ukraine pledged to eliminate nuclear weapons in the 1990s. In addition, Nazarbayev was able to negotiate US$1.2 billion in prepayment by the United States against sale of the enriched uranium contained in Kazakstan's warheads, as well as another US$311 million for maintenance and conversion of existing missile silos. Equally important was that the nuclear warheads prompted the United States to become a party to negotiations concerning the warheads between Kazakstan and Russia. The United States eventually became a guarantor of the agreement reached by the two countries. In May 1995, the last nuclear warhead in Kazakstan was destroyed at Semey, completing the program of removal and destruction of the entire former Soviet arsenal and achieving the republic's goal of being "nuclear free."

Under the leadership of Nazarbayev, who maintained personal control of foreign policy, Kazakstan eagerly courted Western investment. Although foreign aid, most of it from Western nations, began as a trickle, significant amounts were received by 1994. In practice, however, Nazarbayev was ambivalent about moving too fully into a Western orbit.


In the period shortly after independence, policy makers often discussed following the "Turkish model," emulating Turkey in incorporating a Muslim cultural heritage into a secular, Europeanized state. Turkey's president Turgut zal made a state visit to Kazakstan in March 1991 and hosted a return visit by Nazarbayev later the same year. Soon afterward Nazarbayev began to echo Turkish talk of turning Kazakstan into a bridge between Muslim East and Christian West. In practice, however, the Turks proved to be more culturally dissimilar than the Kazakstanis had imagined; more important, Turkey's own economic problems meant that most promises of aid and investment remained mostly just statements of intentions.


As Turkey proved itself a disappointment, President Nazarbayev began to speak with increasing enthusiasm about the Asian economic "tigers" such as Singapore, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), and Taiwan. Among the republic's first foreign economic advisers were Chan Young Bang, a Korean American with close ties to South Korea's major industrial families, and Singapore's former prime minister, Li Kwan Yew.

The most compelling model, however, was provided by China, which quickly had become Kazakstan's largest non-CIS trading partner. The Kazakstani leadership found the Chinese combination of rigid social control and private-sector prosperity an attractive one. China also represented a vast market and appeared quite able to supply the food, medicine, and consumer goods most desired by the Kazakstani market.

However, the relationship with China has been a prickly one. Kazakstan's fears of Chinese domination remain from the Soviet era and from the Kazaks' earlier nomadic history. A large number of Kazaks and other Muslims live in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, just over the border. Direct rail and road links have been opened to rmqi in Xinjiang, and Chinese traders in Kazakstan are prominent in the thriving barter between the two nations. However, China is plainly nervous about any contact that would encourage separatist or nationalist sentiments among its own "captive peoples." For its part, Kazakstan has expressed unease about the large numbers of Chinese who began buying property and settling in the republic after the end of Soviet rule. Kazakstan also has reacted angrily but without effect to Chinese nuclear tests at Lob Nor, China's main testing site, located within 300 kilometers of the common border.

The Middle East

Nazarbayev was hesitant to court investment from the Middle East, despite high levels of Turkish and Iranian commercial activity in Central Asia. Unlike the other Central Asian republics, Kazakstan initially accepted only observer status in the Muslim-dominated ECO, largely out of concern not to appear too "Muslim" itself. Over time, however, the president moved from being a professed atheist to proudly proclaiming his Muslim heritage. He has encouraged assistance from Iran in developing transportation links, from Oman in building oil pipelines, from Egypt in building mosques, and from Saudi Arabia in developing a national banking system.

Russia and the CIS

Most of Kazakstan's foreign policy has, not unnaturally, focused on the other former Soviet republics and, particularly, on the potential territorial ambitions of Russia. Since Gorbachev's proposal for a modified continuation of the Soviet Union in late 1991, Kazakstan has supported arrangements with Russia that guarantee the republic's sovereignty and independence, including a stronger and institutionally complex CIS.

As the CIS failed to develop a strong institutional framework, Nazarbayev attempted to achieve the same end in another way, proposing the creation of a Euro-Asian Union that would subordinate the economic, defense, and foreign policies of individual member states to decisions made by a council of presidents, an elective joint parliament, and joint councils of defense and other ministries. Citizens of member nations would hold union citizenship, essentially reducing the independence of the individual member republics to something like their Soviet-era status. The proposal, however, met with little enthusiasm, especially from Russia, whose support was crucial to the plan's success.

Nazarbayev pursued bilateral trade and security agreements with each of the former republics and in September 1992 unsuccessfully attempted to have Kazakstan broker a cease-fire between Armenia and Azerbaijan that also would set a precedent for settling interrepublic and interregional strife in the former republics. Nazarbayev also participated in the fitful efforts of the five Central Asian leaders to create some sort of regional entity; the most promising of these was a free-trade zone established in 1994 among Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakstan (see Foreign Trade, ch. 2).

Kazakstan also has contributed to efforts by Russia and Uzbekistan to end the civil war in Tajikistan. Kazakstani troops were part of a joint CIS force dispatched to protect military objectives in and around the Tajikistan's capital, Dushanbe. Although Nazarbayev and Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov warned in 1995 that their countries soon would consider withdrawal if peace talks made no progress, the multinational CIS force remained in place in early 1996.


CITATION: Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

Please note: This text comes from the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.

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