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Nursultan Nazarbayev

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Nursultan Nazarbayev

Nursultan Nazarbayev
Нұрсұлтан Назарбаев
President of Kazakhstan
Assumed office
25 December 1991
Prime Minister Sergey Tereshchenko
Akezhan Kazhegeldin
Nurlan Balgimbayev
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
Imangali Tasmagambetov
Daniyal Akhmetov
Karim Massimov
Serik Akhmetov
Karim Massimov
Preceded by Position established
Leader of Nur Otan
Assumed office
4 July 2007
Preceded by Bakhytzhan Zhumagulov
Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic
In office
22 February 1990 – 24 April 1990
Prime Minister Uzakbay Karamanov
Preceded by Kilibay Medeubekov
Succeeded by Erik Asanbayev
First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan
In office
22 June 1989 – 14 December 1991
Preceded by Gennady Kolbin
Succeeded by Position abolished
Prime Minister of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic
In office
22 March 1984 – 27 July 1989
President Bayken Ashimov
Salamay Mukashev
Zakash Kamaledinov
Vera Sidorova
Makhtay Sagdiyev
Preceded by Bayken Ashimov
Succeeded by Uzakbay Karamanov
Personal details
Born (1940-07-06) 6 July 1940
Chemolgan, Soviet Union
(now Kazakhstan)
Political party Communist Party (1962–1991)
Independent (1991–1999)
Nur Otan (1999–present)
Spouse(s) Sara Alpysqyzy (1962–present)
Children Dariga
Religion Sunni Islam

Nursultan Äbishuly Nazarbayev [1] (Kazakh: Нұрсұлтан Әбішұлы Назарбаев ; Russian: Нурсултан Абишевич Назарбаев ; born 6 July 1940) is the President of Kazakhstan. He has been the country's leader since 1989, when he was named First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Kazakh SSR, and was elected the nation's first president following its independence from the Soviet Union in December 1991. In April 2011, Nazarbayev was re-elected to another five-year term.

Early life

Nazarbayev was born in Chemolgan, a rural town near Almaty, when Kazakhstan was one of the republics of the Soviet Union.[2] His father was a poor labourer who worked for a wealthy local family until Soviet rule confiscated the family's farmland in the 1930s during Joseph Stalin's collectivization policy.[3] Following this, his father took the family to the mountains to live out a nomadic existence.[4]

His father avoided compulsory military service due to a withered arm he sustained when putting out a fire.[5] At the end of World War II the family returned to the village of Chemolgan, and Nazarbayev began to pick up the Russian language.[6] He performed well at school, and was sent to a boarding school in Kaskelen.[7]

After leaving school he took up a one year, government-funded scholarship at the Karaganda Steel Mill in Temirtau.[8] He also spent time training at a steel plant in Dniprodzerzhynsk, and therefore was away from Temirtau as riots over working conditions enveloped the town.[8] By the age of 20, he was earning a relatively good wage doing "incredibly heavy and dangerous work" in the blast furnace.[9]

He joined the Communist Party in 1962, and quickly became a prominent member of the Young Communist League.[9] He soon became a full-time worker for the party, and picked up a college education at the Karagandy Polytechnic Institute.[10] He was appointed secretary of the Communist Party Committee of the Karaganda Metallurgical Kombinat in 1972, and four years later became Second Secretary of the Karaganda Regional Party Committee.[10]

In his role as a bureaucrat, Nazarbayev spent his days dealing with legal papers, solving logistical problems and industrial disputes, as well as meeting workers to solve individual issues.[10] He later wrote that "the central allocation of capital investment and the distribution of funds" meant that infrastructure was poor, workers were demoralized and overworked, and centrally set targets were unrealistic; he saw the steel plant's problems as a microcosm for the problems for the Soviet Union as a whole.[11]

Rise to power

Nazarbayev (second from left) at the signing of the Alma-Ata Protocol, December 1991

In 1984, Nazarbayev became the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan (chairman of the Council of Ministers), working under Dinmukhamed Kunayev, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan.[12] Nazarbayev criticized Askar Kunayev, head of the Academy of Sciences, at the 16th session of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan in January 1986 for not reforming his department. Dinmukhamed Kunayev, Nazarbayev's boss and Askar's brother, felt deeply angered and betrayed. Kunayev went to Moscow and demanded Nazarbayev's dismissal while Nazarbayev's supporters campaigned for Kunayev's dismissal and Nazarbayev's promotion.

Kunayev was ousted in 1986 and replaced by a Russian, Gennady Kolbin, who despite his office had little authority in Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev was named party leader on 22 June 1989--[12] only the second Kazakh (after Kunayev) to hold the post. He was Chairman of the Supreme Soviet (head of state) from 22 February to 24 April 1990.

Despite having just been named as leader of Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev was close enough to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that he was Gorbachev's second choice to be Vice President of the Soviet Union in 1990. However, Nazarbayev turned the offer down.[13] On 24 April 1990, Nazarbayev was named the first President of Kazakhstan by the Supreme Soviet. He supported Russian President Boris Yeltsin against the attempted coup in August 1991 by Soviet hardliners.[14]

The Soviet Union disintegrated following the failed coup, though Nazarbayev was highly concerned with maintaining the close economic ties between Kazakhstan and Russia.[15] In the country's first presidential election, held on 1 December, he appeared alone on the ballot and won 91.5% of the vote.[16] On 21 December, he signed the Alma-Ata Protocol, taking Kazakhstan into the Commonwealth of Independent States.[17]


Nazarbayev with George W. Bush at the White House in September 2006.

Nazarbayev is a constant participant of the most important conferences and forums of the world, such as high-level meetings as UN General Assembly, Nuclear Security Summits, World Economic Forum in Davos. Nazarbayev has opened Kazakhstan's doors as host country for high-level events: the OSCE Summit in Astana held in December 2010, the 38th Session of the OIC Ministerial Council in June, 2011, and the Almaty 1 & Almaty 2 P5+1 talks with Iran on its nuclear program. Nazarbayev also initiated a series of forums that gather the international community’s attention. In particular, the Astana Economic Forum, the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, the Eurasian Media Forum, sessions of the Council of Foreign Investors and others.[18]

In December 2012, President Nazarbayev outlined a forward-looking national strategy called the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy.

Nazarbayev renamed the former State Defense Committees as the Ministry of Defense and appointed Sagadat Nurmagambetov as Defense Minister on 7 May 1992. The Supreme Council, under the leadership of Speaker Serikbolsyn Abdilin, began debating over a draft constitution in June 1992. The constitution created a strong executive branch with limited checks on executive power.[19]

Opposition political parties Ezat, Zheltoqsan and the Republican Party, held demonstrations in Almaty from 10–17 June calling for the formation of a coalition government and the resignation of the government of Prime Minister Sergey Tereshchenko and the Supreme Council. The Parliament of Kazakhstan, composed of Communist Party legislators who had yet to stand in an election since the country gained its independence, adopted the constitution on 28 January 1993.[19]

An April 1995 democratic standards.[20] On 18 May 2007, the Parliament of Kazakhstan approved a constitutional amendment which allowed the incumbent president—himself—to run for an unlimited number of five-year terms. This amendment applied specifically and only to Nazarbayev: the original constitution's prescribed maximum of two five-year terms will still apply to all future presidents of Kazakhstan.[21]

Nazarbayev appointed Altynbek Sarsenbayev, who at the time served as the Minister of Culture, Information and Concord, the Secretary of the Kazakh Security Council, replacing Marat Tazhin, on 4 May 2001. Tazhin became the Chairman of the National Security Council, replacing Alnur Musayev. Musayev became the head of the Guards' Service of the President.[22]

Nazarbayev with Lee Myung-bak in Seoul, 2010.

Notwithstanding Kazakhstan's membership in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now the Israel. Diplomatic relations were established in 1992 and President Nazarbayev paid official visits to Israel in 1995 and 2000.[23] Bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to $724 million in 2005.

Nazarbayev at the 2011 Nur Otan congress, discussing cooperation with foreign states in the "fight against terrorism and fight against epidemics and environmental disasters."[24]

In 1994 Nazarbayev suggested the move of the capital from Almaty to Astana, and the official shift of the capital happened o December 10, 1997.[25]

On 4 December 2005 new Presidential elections were held and President Nazarbayev won by an overwhelming majority of 91.15% (from a total of 6,871,571 eligible participating voters). Nazarbayev was sworn in for another seven-year term on 11 January 2006.

Nazarbayev with former President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (2009)

In 2009, former UK cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken released a biography of the Kazakhstani leader entitled Nazarbayev and the Making of Kazakhstan. The book takes a generally pro-Nazarbayev stance, asserting in the introduction that he is mostly responsible for the success of modern Kazakhstan.[26]

December 2011 saw the 2011 Mangystau riots, described by the BBC as the biggest opposition movement of his time in power.[27] On 16 December 2011 demonstrations in the oil town of Zhanaozen clashed with police on the country's Independence Day. Fifteen people were shot dead by security forces and almost 100 were injured. Protests quickly spread to other cities but then died away. The subsequent trial of demonstrators uncovered mass abuse and torture of detainees.[27]

Nazarbayev received the Man of the Year national award in 2012. The award in State Policy category was also given to Russia's President Vladimir Putin and President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. The leaders of the three countries were awarded for their contribution into creation of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) and the Customs Union.[28]

President Nazarbayev announced in 2014 that Kazakhstan should change its name to Kazakh Yeli. The reason for this announcement is for Kazakhstan to attract better and more foreign investment since Kazakhstan by name is associated with other -stan countries. Also, he noted Mongolia is receiving more investment than Kazakhstan because its not a -stan country even though it is in the same neighborhood as Kazakhstan and not as stable as Kazakhstan. However, he is letting the people decide on whether the country should change its name.[29]

Allegations of corruption

As of 2005, Kazakhstan had never held an election that met international standards.[30]

Nazarbayev won the first presidential election in 1991, as no other politician managed to gather enough signatures to enroll as an official candidate.[31]

In May 2007, the Parliament of Kazakhstan approved a constitutional amendment which would allow Nazarbayev to seek re-election as many times as he wishes. This amendment applies specifically and only to Nazarbayev, since it states that the first president will have no limits on how many times he can run for office, but subsequent presidents will be held to a five-year term.[32]

President Nazarbayev declared a holy war against corruption and ordered the adoption of "10 steps against corruption"[33] to fight corruption at all levels of state and society.

A former minister in the Nazarbayev government, Zamanbek K. Nurkadilov, said that Nazarbayev should answer allegations that Kazakh officials had accepted millions of US dollars in bribes from an intermediary for U.S. oil firms in the 1990s.[34]

Nazarbayev has been called one of the "ultimate oligarchs" of the post-Soviet central Asia states.[35] He is believed to have transferred at least $1 billion worth of oil revenues to his private bank accounts in other countries and his family controls many other key enterprises in Kazakhstan.[35]

Nazarbayev on various issues

Eurasian Economic Union

Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan signed on May 29, 2014 a treaty to create an Eurasian Economic Union which will create a single economic space of 170 million people and come into effect in January 2015.[36] Nazarbayev said shortly after the treaty was signed, “We see this as an open space and a new bridge between the growing economies of Europe and Asia.”[36]

Environmental issues

In his 1998 autobiography, Nazarbayev wrote that "The shrinking of the Aral Sea, because of its scope, is one of the most serious ecological disasters being faced by our planet today. It is not an exaggeration to put it on the same level as the destruction of the Amazon rainforest."[37] He called on Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and the wider world to do more to reverse the environmental damage done during the Soviet era.[38]

Nuclear issues

Nazarbayev is a global leader on nuclear nonproliferation issues and global security. Kazakhstan inherited from the Soviet Union the world's fourth largest stockpile of nuclear weapons. Within four years of independence, Kazakhstan possessed zero nuclear weapons.[39]

Presidents Nazarbayev & Obama held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague.

President Obama acknowledged President Nazarbayev's leadership during a bilateral meeting at the 2012 Nuclear Summit in Seoul, South Korea. Nazarbayev offers Kazakhstan as a model for other countries to gain security by giving up nuclear weapons programs and stockpiles.[40]

During the Soviet era, over 500 military experiments with nuclear weapons were conducted by scientists in the Kazakhstan region, mostly at the Semipalatinsk Test Site, causing radiation sickness and birth defects.[41] As the influence of the Soviet Union waned, Nazarbayev closed the site.[42] He later claimed that he had encouraged Olzhas Suleimenov's anti-nuclear movement in Kazakhstan, and was always fully committed to the group's goals.[43] In what was dubbed 'Project Sapphire', the Kazakhstan and United States government worked closely to dismantle former Soviet weapons stored in the country, with the Americans agreeing to fund over $800 million in transportation and 'compensation' costs.[44]

Nazarbayev encouraged the United Nations General Assembly to establish 29 August as the International Day Against Nuclear Tests. In his article he has proposed a new Non-Proliferation Treaty "that would guarantee clear obligations on the part of signatory governments and define real sanctions for those who fail to observe the terms of the agreement."[45] He signed a treaty authorizing the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone on 8 September 2006.

In an oped in the Washington Times, President Nazarbayev called for the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty to be modernized and better balanced.


In a speech given on 15 December 2006 marking the 15th anniversary of Kazakhstan's independence, Nazarbayev stated he wished to join with Iran in support of a single currency for all Central Asian states and intended to push the idea forward with Iran's then President Ahmadinejad on an upcoming visit. The Kazakh president also reportedly criticized Iran as a terrorism-supporting state. The Kazakh Foreign Ministry released a statement on 19 December, saying the reports were mistaken and contradictory to what the president actually meant.[46]

Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy

Nazarbayev unveiled in his 2012 State of the Nation the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy, a long-term strategy to ensure future growth prospects of Kazakhstan, and position Kazakhstan as one of the 30 most developed nations in the world.[47]

Women in politics

In 2011, Nazarbayev called on his government to provide increased opportunities for women to serve in politics and government. "I instruct the government, together with the Presidential administration and the national commission for women's affairs, the leadership of the Nur Otan Party, to form a concrete plan effective to 2016 for the promotion of women in taking decisions", he said at the first women's congress.[48]


President Nursultan Nazarbayev has put forward the initiative of holding a forum of world and traditional religions in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana. Earlier the organizers of similar events were only representatives of leading religions and denominations. Among other similar events aimed at establishing interdenominational dialogue were the meetings of representatives of world religions and denominations held in Assisi, Italy in October 1986 and January 2002.[49] The first Congress of World and Traditional Religions which gathered in 2003 allowed the leaders of all major religions to develop prospects for mutual cooperation.

Nazarbayev espoused anti-religious views during the Soviet era;[50] he has now exerted effort to highlight his Muslim heritage by performing the Hajj pilgrimage,[50] and supporting mosque renovations.[51]

Under the leadership of Nazarbayev, the Republic of Kazakhstan has enacted some degrees of multiculturalism in order to retain and attract talents from diverse ethnic groups among its citizenry, and even from nations that are developing ties of cooperation with the country, in order to coordinate human resources onto the state-guided path of global market economic participation. This principle of the Kazakh leadership has earned it the name "Singapore of the Steppes".[52]

However, in 2012 Nazarbayev proposed reforms, that later enacted by the parliament, which impose stringent restrictions on religious practices.[53] Religious groups were required to re-register, or face closure.[54] The initiative was explained as an attempt to combat extremism. However, under the new law many minority religious groups are deemed illegal. In order to exist on a local level, group must have more than 50 members; on a regional level - more than 500; on the national level - more than 5000.[53]

Kazakh Eli

In February 2014 he proposed renaming the country Kazakhstan to Kazakh Eli. His purpose was to drop the "stan" in the country's name in an attempt to differentiate itself from other countries on its southern borders.[55]

Personal life

He is married to Sara Alpysqyzy Nazarbayeva, and they have three daughters — Dariga, Dinara and Aliya.



  • Order of the Golden Eagle
  • Medal "Astana"
  • Medal "10 Years of the Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan"
  • Medal "10th Anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan"
  • Medal "10th Anniversary of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan"
  • Medal "In Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Railway of Kazakhstan"
  • Medal "10 Years of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan"
  • Medal "50 Years of the Virgin Lands"
  • Jubilee Medal "60 Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945"
  • Medal "10 Years of the City of Astana"
  • Medal "20 Years of the Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan"

Soviet Union

Russian Federation

Foreign awards

See also


  1. ^ Principles of International Politics - Bruce Bueno de Mesquita - Google Books. 2013-01-14. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  2. ^ Nazarbayev 1998, p. 11
  3. ^ Nazarbayev 1998, p. 16
  4. ^ Nazarbayev 1998, p. 20
  5. ^ Nazarbayev 1998, p. 21
  6. ^ Nazarbayev 1998, p. 22
  7. ^ Nazarbayev 1998, p. 23
  8. ^ a b Nazarbayev 1998, p. 24
  9. ^ a b Nazarbayev 1998, p. 26
  10. ^ a b c Nazarbayev 1998, p. 27
  11. ^ Nazarbayev 1998, p. 28
  12. ^ a b Sally N. Cummings (2002). Power and change in Central Asia. Psychology Press. pp. 59–61.  
  13. ^ Union of Soviet Socialist Republics at Encyclopedia Britannica
  14. ^ Nazarbayev 1998, p. 73
  15. ^ Nazarbayev 1998, p. 81
  16. ^ James Minahan (1998). Miniature empires: a historical dictionary of the newly independent states. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 136–.  
  17. ^ Nazarbayev 1998, p. 82
  18. ^ "International Recognition". Office of the President. 
  19. ^ a b Karen Dawisha; Bruce Parrott (1994). Russia and the new states of Eurasia: the politics of upheaval. Cambridge University Press. pp. 317–318.  
  20. ^ Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights – Elections.
  21. ^ Los Angeles Times"Kazakhstan lifts term limits on long-ruling leader", . (19 May 2007). Retrieved on 3 February 2011.
  22. ^ Robert D'A. Henderson (21 July 2003). Brassey's International Intelligence Yearbook: 2003 Edition. Brassey's. p. 272.  
  23. ^ Content at the Wayback Machine (archived October 6, 2006). Retrieved on 3 February 2011.
  24. ^ ProQuest. Retrieved on 3 February 2011.
  25. ^ "Official site of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan - Astana". Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  26. ^ Aitken, Jonathan (2009). Nazarbayev and the Making of Kazakhstan. London: Continuum. pp. 1–4.  
  27. ^ a b "Abuse claims swamp Kazakh oil riot trial". BBC. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  28. ^ "Nazarbayev received Man of the Year award". English. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  29. ^ "WorldViews". The Washington Post. 
  30. ^ Chivers, C.J. (6 December 2005). "Kazakh President Re-elected; voting Flawed, Observers Say". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  31. ^ "History of presidential elections in Kazakhstan since 1991". The Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the United Nations. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  32. ^ Holley, David (May 19, 2007). "Kazakhstan lifts term limits on long-ruling leader". LA Times. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  33. ^ КонтиненТ: казахстан: политика, общество. Retrieved 3 February 2011.
  34. ^ Kramer, Andrew E. (14 November 2005). "Ex-Kazakh Official Who Made a Threat Found Slain". New York Times. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  35. ^ a b Guriev, Sergei; Andrei Rachinsky (October 2006). "The Evolution of Personal Wealth in the Former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe" (PDF). United Nations University – World Institute for Development Economics Research. Retrieved 17 February 2006. 
  36. ^ a b "Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan sign ‘epoch' Eurasian Economic Union". RT. 
  37. ^ Nazarbayev 1998, p. 42
  38. ^ Nazarbayev 1998, p. 41
  39. ^ "NTI Kazakhstan Profile". Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). 
  40. ^ "NAZARBAYEV: A model for curtailing nuclear proliferation". Washington Times. 
  41. ^ Nazarbayev 1998, p. 141
  42. ^ Nazarbayev 1998, p. 143
  43. ^ Nazarbayev 1998, p. 142
  44. ^ Nazarbayev 1998, p. 150
  45. ^ Right time for building global nuclear security. Chicago Tribune (11 April 2010). Retrieved 3 February 2011.
  46. ^ Kazakhstan dismisses alleged anti-Iran comments from president at the Wayback Machine (archived March 8, 2008). Retrieved on 2011-02-03.
  47. ^ "Strategy 2050: Kazakhstan’s Road Map to Global Success". EdgeKZ. 
  48. ^ "Kazakh president calls for more women in politics"
  49. ^ Congress of World Religions – About Congress of leaders of world and traditional religions. (15 October 2007). Retrieved on 3 February 2011.
  50. ^ a b Ideology and National Identity in Post-Communist Foreign Policies By Rick Fawn, p. 147
  51. ^ Moscow's Largest Mosque to Undergo Extension
  52. ^ Preston, Peter (19 July 2009). "How Nursultan became the most loved man on Earth". The Guardian. 
  53. ^ a b Leonard, Peter (29 September 2011). "Kazakhstan: Restrictive Religion Law Blow To Minority Groups". Huffington Post. 
  54. ^ "Kazakhstan: Religion Law Restricting Faith in the Name of Tackling Extremism?". 2012-11-12. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  55. ^ "BBC News - Kazakhstan: President suggests renaming the country". 2014-02-07. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  56. ^ Lithuanian Presidency, Lithuanian Orders searching form
  57. ^ Slovak republic website, State honours : 1st Class in 2007 (click on "Holders of the Order of the 1st Class White Double Cross" to see the holders' table)
  58. ^ "Presidency of the Republic of Turkey (Photo)". Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  • Nazarbayev, Nursultan (1998), Nursultan Nazarbayev: My Life, My Times and My Future..., Pilkington Press,  

External links

  • Official website
  • President Nazarbayev Biography
  • Kazakh President demands firing of telecom chief
  • Brief introduction to relations between China and Kazakhstan
  • Kazakhstan, Armenia sign agreements to develop relations
  • Kazakhstan to export 6–7 mln tonnes of grains of this year harvest
  • Kazakhstan to be top oil producer by 2011: Nazarbayev
  • Speeches by Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev
  • President Nazarbayev Biography
Political offices
Preceded by
Bayken Ashimov
Prime Minister of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic
Succeeded by
Uzaqbay Qaramanov
Preceded by
Kilibay Medeubekov
Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic
Succeeded by
Erik Asanbayev
New office President of Kazakhstan
Party political offices
Preceded by
Gennady Kolbin
Leader of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan
Party dissolved
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