Instead, Kazakhstan drew on substantial US assistance to dispense with its nuclear stockpile, earning widespread plaudits. However, international criticism also is strong.
US-based advocacy group Freedom House has designated Kazakhstan as “not free” and noted a worsening trend last year with legislation that in effect limited religious liberties.
There is no obvious sign of when, or even if, the president will ever step down.
And yet, even his supporters recognize change is beckoning.
In an interview published on Saturday in Vremya newspaper, an adviser to the presidential rights committee, Vitaly Voronov, said the time had come to boost the role of parliament, which is now occupied by Nazarbayev’s party and two weak and largely pro-government forces.
Nazarbayev “should go down in history as the first and last leader of Kazakhstan with super-presidential powers,” he said.