Kazakhstan: “Leader of the Nation” Mission Complete

As was reported, on May 13, the parliament of Kazakhstan adopted a set of amendments labeled as The Law on Leader of the Nation, as they were meant to attach such title to the incumbent president.

Nursultan Nazarbayev, 69, rules the country for more than 20 years, since Kazakhstan was a part of the Soviet Union. The amendments included also immunity from any kind of criminal and administrative responsiblity for the president and his family members, while imposing pretty heavy criminal liability (high fines, terms in the correction facilities or even imprisonment) for “distortion of the president's biography” and “damage of the president's images”. The law applies only for Nazarbayev, the first leader of Kazakhstan after gaining independence in 1991.

However, the president did not sign the law into force. He said in his address to the citizens, parliament and his party (which occupies all seats in the parliament) that “the status of Leader of the Nation can not be gained by a law or decree”. He thanked the deputies, but made it clear that he refuses to assume this status: “I ask you to get me right”, he said.

Bloggers were quick to celebrate, yet noting the orchestrated character of the whole play:

“Marasmus is not that bad. […] However, the logic is pretty clear: a lot of people are now filled with respect to him. Even the opposition would praise him tomorrow, while the proponents would canonize his unlimited wisdom”, pulemetchizza wrote [ru]. Il-pirato added in comments [ru]: “It's easy to be a superman if you are surrounded by morons. It doesn't matter what Nazarbayev did or will do. He dismissed the greatest bullshit, and therefore he will be deemed a hero”.

Count-asylum said [ru]:

There is an ancient formula how to make people happy: you should first make them unhappy, and then turn everything back. Taking into account that the president has grown that high in our eyes, I vote to declare him a Leader of the Whole Free Mankind.

By the way, it would be fun if the parliament convened a special session and overcome the presidential veto.

The blogger could not even imagine how close he was to the truth. The thing is that Nazarbayev publicly rejected the law, but… didn't veto it! The opposition leader Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, former general prosecutor, had warned [ru] after the presidential speech that the legal loophole allows the law to come into force without the Nazarbayev's signature.

On June 15 it got official. The law came into force, signed by the speakers of two-chamber (yet one-party) parliament and by the prime-minister. These officials ensure legal propriety of the law and bear responsibility for its legality. Adam-Kesher says [ru]:

Such a silly show. […] First, he unambigously says that he doesn't want it. He perfectly knows – from his 20-year experience – what he has to do next in order to avoid the things he publicly and politically rejected. But he doesn't. […] There are two possible reasons.

One is that he has forgotten. Then the question comes up – whether a man having memory losses (which are quite normal in his age) can be a leader of the nation? This question is rhetoric, because we are now not allowed to discuss personal life of the leader.

The second option is that he simply changed his mind. And no comments are required in this case. […] The law violates the constitutional principle of equality of all citizens before the law.

M-kaa howls in despair [ru]:

Why sometimes I am so deeply ashamed of the country I live in, the country I love? You know what I am dreaming of? I want my country to acknowledge that it is a monarchy. Not a parliamentary one or whatever else – simply a monarchy. Officially. No more hypocritical games with democracy, multi-party system or free speech.

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