Tag Archives: Nur Otan

Kazakhstan: Adventures in Democracy

9 Oct

Lord Venal has been on the observation trail once again – here are his reflections from his recent trip to Kazakhstan to observe the Senate elections [Editor’s note: This was in an unofficial capacity as Lord Venal is barred from observer missions after last year’s vicious smear campaign orchestrated by the Azeri authorities]

Democracy is inching along in Kazakhstan with the free and fair elections to the country’s upper chamber, the Senate, paying testament to this.

“We have been witnesses to an open and democratic electoral process. We congratulate the people of Kazakhstan and the election organizers,” Kazakhstan’s Central Electoral Commission (CEC) told Spain’s EFE news agency, reported Fox News Latino.

The ruling Nur Otan party, loyal to the Leader of the Nation Nursultan Nazarbayev, swept the board gaining every seat in the new-look Senate.

Some 250 observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization were present for the vote on October 1.

Those party-poopers at The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe did not send observers due to the “indirect” nature of the elections, CEC Chairman Kuandyk Turgankolov said.

The Senate consists of 47 members – 15 are appointed by President Nazarbayev and the others are elected by the lower house, the Mazhilis, with 16 places up for grabs every three years. The senators serve a six-year term.

Could not the UK learn a lesson from Kazakhstan in these matters? The House of Lords, where I sit, is an unelected body. Maybe the Queen, as Head of State, could appoint some of its members with the rest selected by a vote in the House of Commons?

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Another Busy Week for Kazakhstan’s Lawmakers?

4 Oct

Kazakhstan’s parliament has been sitting this last week and it has been grappling with one of the key issues that is preying on voter’s minds – same-sex relationships.

Never mind that many in this energy rich country are without running water and reliable energy supplies, or that some of the disaffected  have been turning to militant Islam in recent years. Lawmakers in the multi-party parliament, which consists of Nur Otan, the pro-presidential party, Ak Zhol, the pro-business and pro-presidential party, and the Communist pro-presidential party, have been getting hot under the collar over same-sex relationships.

As the debate was raging in parliament (or, more likely, deputy Bakhytbek Smagul took his colleagues on a rambling trip through his ill-informed thoughts on homosexuality), the head of the first department of the General Prosecutor’s Office, Almas Mukhamejanov, called for harsh penalties for another key issue in the country – human cloning.

Currently human cloning does not carry a custodial sentence in Kazakhstan, but Mukhamejanov suggested punishing human cloning by imprisonment for a term of 5 years, and up to 12 years if the crime was committed by an organized criminal group.

Kazaxia asked Lord Venal about these developments and he suggested that they might be linked to Tony Blair, who became a Catholic in 2007. His consultancy, Tony Blair Associates, is getting paid a packet (some sources claim $13 million a year) to advise Kazakhstan’s government.

Do the Blairites have a sinister anti-gay cloning message that they are trying to push onto the unsuspecting Kazakh public in the guise of consulting on governance?

Kazakhstan: Vino Bows Out

11 Oct

Kazakhstan’s star cyclist Alexandre Vinokourov has finally hung up his trouser clips as he brought his chequered pro-cycling career to a close with a win in the jubilee criterium race on the streets of his adopted home city of Monaco.

Vinokourov – known to his fans simply as Vino, had many highs and lows in his 14-year career as a pro-cyclist. He ended on a high note by taking gold in the Men’s Cycling Road Race in this year’s London Olympics, which he added to his silver medal from Sydney in 2004.

The lows included a scandal-hit Tour de France in 2007 when he was kicked out for failing a blood-doping test. This earned him a two-year ban from the sport. In 2011 he was embroiled in a scandal that saw him accused of bribing a fellow rider to let him win a race.

It is likely that Vino will now take up a position on the management side of the Astana pro-cycling team that was set up around him in 2006 by a consortium of Kazakh companies. Another option is politics in his native Kazakhstan – he was listed as a candidate for Nur Otan in January’s parliamentary vote.

However, the smart money’s on the high-life in Monaco and the buzz of the pro-cycling circuit rather than the somewhat less attractive lure of entering Astana’s turgid political scene.  If he does opt for Kazakhstan, then the cheating and corruption allegations will stand him in good stead for a life in politics.

His retirement comes at a time when  former Astana team mate, Lance Armstrong,  finally faces the music with the sheer weight of evidence provided by the United States anti-Doping Agency pointing to long-term,  systematic doping in Armstrong’s past before he joined Astana.

 

Kazakhstan: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

20 Jan

Kazaxia has received the following contribution from Dr Boris B. Eltway of the Free University of Trans-Dniester Moldavian Republic on the recent election in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan has just been to the polls in what many observers are hailing as a major step forward on the long, rocky road to democracy. In the wake of Nur Otan’s crushing victory Astana is soaking up the plaudits for moving from a one-party parliament to a multi-party one with room being made in parliament for two other parties.

But hang on a minute, this is hardly Myanmar or some such place we’re discussing here. The one-party parliament only came about as no other party was able to exceed the seven percent threshold in 2007’s election. In 2004 Kazakhstan had a multi-party parliament with five political forces represented, including an earlier incarnation of Ak Zhol when it was a genuine opposition party, although it only took up its seat after a split in the party. So is this really a step forward?

Now the president’s party Nur Otan is being kept company by the latest model of Ak Zhol and The Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan (not to be confused with the outlawed Communist Party of Kazakhstan). We have a very cosy little parliament with Ak Zhol a pro-business party, the split-off commies on the left and the center dominated by the party of power. Both the newcomers are pro-presidential – no statements were made in the election campaign to suggest otherwise.

In fact, very few issues were mentioned in the campaign anyway. The elephants in the corner – terrorism and industrial unrest were kept off the agenda and the massacre in Zhanaozen was deftly spun by the state-controlled media as being down to mysterious ‘third forces’ and oil company executives mishandling the situation.

That these two new arrivals are sham opposition parties is not under discussion in Astana – it is enough for the spin doctors and window dressers to merely be able to provide a semblance of a functioning democracy to the outside world.

Real power remains in the hands of one man – no matter how many parties are represented in parliament be they sham or genuine opposition, it remains a toothless, rubber-stamp body that carries out the orders of the executive without question.

The people of Kazakhstan deserve better from their leaders and from their nascent democracy.