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22 May 2007
The political reforms offered by President Nursultan Nazarbayev and the adoption of constitutional amendments by Kazakhstan’s Parliament are in the focus of international mass media worldwide.

The constitutional reform has caused positive responses from abroad and is considered as the next very important stage in the democratization of Kazakhstan.

The American International Herald Tribunewrites that key changes in the political system of Kazakhstan must be the reduction of the presidential term and the increase of the powers of parliament. Summarizing this event, they emphasize “Nazarbayev has brought prosperity to the 15 million population with market reforms and Western investment in the country's vast energy sector.”

Radio Free Europe headlines its material “Kazakh President Stumps for 'Evolutionary' Changes” and conducts a detailed analysis of all major amendments including those which imply shortening the presidential term, strengthening the powers of parliament, increasing the number of deputies, state financing of public associations and parties. The author also cites Zharmakhan Tuyakbay, one of the leaders of Kazakh opposition, who expressed "optimism" saying authorities apparently intend to implement "serious political reforms.”

Many of Russian mass media covered Nursultan Nazarbayev’s speech in the Parliament in their news blocks and materials. News agencies and television channels covered the event and gave analytical comments.

NTV says “the President of Kazakhstan has announced the radical transformation and democratization of state power. It is not everyday that a form of government is changed in the post Soviet countries. It is very seldom that this occurs without a corresponding revolution of one color or another and rallies in front of parliament. Nursultan Nazarbayev has demonstrated a new type of revolution. It is a revolution from the top.”

Russia and First television channels called the statements of Kazakhstan’s President a sensation because they lead to the change of the republic’s form of government and significant increase of the powers of parliament. Their evaluations were as following:

“Kazakhstan changes its political system”

“Having completed the economic modernization of the country, Nursultan Nazarbayev works on the development of democracy”

“Hitherto, none of political leaders in the region has suggested such reforms”

“Kazakhstan follows the way of transforming political system”

“Patriarch of politics Nursultan Nazarbayev realizes that great presidential powers require skill and time. This is hard work and everyday self-control.”

Positive evaluations of print and Internet media are seen in the following headlines of their materials: “Kazakhstan’s Leader Shares His Power”, “Nazarbayev Thinks about Future”, “Nazarbayev Changes Kazakhstan’s Face”, “Kazakhstan Begins Massive Political Reform”, “Kazakhstan Transforms Its Executive Power”, and “Kazakhstan Will Resemble France.”

The Rossiyskaia Gazeta newspaper comments that “proposed bill with the utmost clarity outlines a full reformation of the political system,” which aimed at “keeping political stability in the country.”

The Gazeta newspaper from Moscow in its article “People of the Steppes – Culture Trend Makers” states that Kazakhstan “has surpassed Russia both in economic and now, in political development… Kazakhstan’s phenomenon deserves to be appreciated. The main thing is that regardless of political characteristics given to him Nursultan Nazarbayev has proved Deng Xiaoping’s theorem in Kazakhstan. He has proved he is an effective politician, more effective than both Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. In Russia, European democratic values once accepted, now are proclaimed to be a form of dictatorship. Kazakhstan is moving in an opposite direction.”

The Vedomosti newspaper links the beginning of the large scale political reform to the necessity of establishing an effective system ensuring legitimate power transfer. “One way or another, we are witnessing different approaches to the problem of power transfer. Kazakhstan plans its own in advance trying to avoid negative scenarios with the help of institutional transformation. Political struggle in Russia with the external manifestation of preserving commonly adopted democratic norms tends to further transform into the clan struggle featured in Byzantium and east despotisms.”

Nezavisimaia Gazeta, Novie Izvestia and Novosti Russia newspapers cite leaders of opposition parties Zharmakhan Tuyakbay and Alikhan Baimenov who positively estimated the forthcoming reform.

The Trud newspaper called the President of Kazakhstan a patriarch of politics in the post Soviet countries and emphasized “Nazarbayev has shaped his rational suggestions into the form of amendments to Constitution and characterized them as fundamental.”

In addition, Russian mass media published numerous comments and opinions of political scientists and experts:

Arkadiy Dubnov, political scientist: “Indeed, Nazarbayev is an outstanding leader in the post Soviet countries. He has always adhered to the policy of conducting first economic, and then political reforms.”

Sergey Markov, director of the Institute for Political Researches: “Kazakhstan changes the Asian way of development for the East European. In the last 15 years, Nazarbayev conducted very successful modernization in Kazakhstan. He has raised the standards of life, ensured political stability and increased rates of economic growth. On this basis, he started gradual democratization of political system. I am sure, this will be done in Nazarbayev’ way, e.g. gradually, steadily and with positive outcomes.”

Alexander Kniazev, political scientist: “Processes in Kazakhstan resemble the evolution of China. Over several decades economy is reformed under an authoritarian strict political system in the first instance, and then having achieved some results, one reforms political system. Nursultan Nazarbayev’s initiatives are a signal to political leaders to act. Politicians have enough time because the President will perform his duties until the end of his term in 2012. It is possible to earn political capital and reputation by that time.”

Alexander Vlasov, political scientist: ”Proposals of President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan on political transformations in the country are an evidence of the transfer of authorities from words to real political reforms. The political community of the country has positively accepted announced changes and, first of all, strengthening the role of political parties. It is difficult to distinguish any key proposal from the set put forward by Nazarbayev because they form an integrated complex of measures on democratization in the country.”

Akhmed Bilalov, deputy chairman of the Committee for CIS affairs and relations with compatriots of the State Duma: “It is possible to consider suggested amendments to the Constitution as movement toward a national compromise. The initiative to elect some of deputies to the Parliament by the approval of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan is a good example of that. In the end, the reform must assist the stability and sustainability of Kazakhstan’s society.”

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