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Kazakhstan chose “perestroika”: What to expect now for Russia

Presidential elections were held in Kazakhstan.

Presidential elections were held in Kazakhstan.

A photo: REUTERS

Elections in Kazakhstanfor all their usual Central Asian predictability (current president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took 81.31%, the closest pursuer “Against all” – 5.8%) in fact – it was not easy.

Ordinary oriental story. Outside decorously, nobly, predictably. But if you know Kazakhstan a little, this dormant volcano, from which lava occasionally erupts, as in January 2022, you understand how subtle everything is.

I was convinced of this when, shortly before the elections, I was brought here …

GOT MORE THAN BEFORE

Let me remind you how the Kazakh “perestroika” began. With promises to the people of freedom, democratization, the fight against corruption.

And although some Kazakhstani political skeptics expressed doubts in a conversation with me that the reforms are a good screen for the redistribution of power, it still seemed to me that Tokayev was sincere. That the dismantling of the former Nazarbayev nomenklatura is only the beginning of a real restructuring of the country.

The current president of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, has secured the support of more than 80% of voters.

The current president of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, has secured the support of more than 80% of voters.

A photo: REUTERS

I do not rule it out even now.

Indeed, immediately after the announcement of the election results, Tokayev said that “significant changes are coming in the economy of Kazakhstan to improve the welfare of citizens” and that “the constitutional reform will be consistent and clear.”

And now the numbers. In previous elections, Tokayev received 71%, its closest competitor is 16.23%. On these – I repeat, 81%, the closest competitor – the column “against all” – 5.8%.

Counting of votes at one of the polling stations in the city of Almaty.

Counting of votes at one of the polling stations in the city of Almaty.

A photo: REUTERS

The elections themselves were held in romantic anticipation of future reforms. Even the previous authorities, just in case, secured the country from any accidents – only public organizations can nominate a candidate, the applicant must have 5 years of experience in the civil service, know the Kazakh language perfectly and have the health of an astronaut (a medical certificate must exclude a long list of diseases …).

Head of the People’s Party Ermukhamet Yertysbaev I found it at the most politically intimate moment – the former communists (renamed “populists”) competed with other parties in an interesting game – who would be the first to nominate Tokayev for president.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at a polling station.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at a polling station.

A photo: REUTERS

And they appointed their congresses on the same day and at one hour.

– When I found out that the party “Amanat” appointed at 10 am, I also appointed at 10, – Yertysbaev explained to me. – Although I was advised from above: better later.

– You, – I notice, – at the congress of your party allowed yourself a bold phrase: “We will support the president, but in return there should be free and fair parliamentary elections.” I was struck by the word “replacement”.

“Yes, all parties will now support the president so that he can continue to ensure competitive elections,” the politician explained. – To have all parties registered.

Well. It remains to wait for the reforms promised by Tokayev in order to see how “perestroika in Kazakhstan” will go. Is she real. Somehow I want to believe it.

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