01282020What's Hot:

Kazakhstan Gets New Leader, but Old System’s Grip on Power Remains

Around 500 people were detained, including a number of Kazakh and foreign journalists, during abortive protest efforts in the country’s capital, formerly known as Astana but recently renamed Nur-Sultan in honor of the former president, and Almaty, the business capital.

One foreign journalist, Chris Rickleton, a correspondent for the French news agency AFP and a contributor to Eurasianet, a news site focused on the region, tweeted a picture of himself in a police van with his face bruised. He said the bruise had followed a “rough arrest,” adding that he was not beaten deliberately, but fell on the knee of an arresting officer.

Most of those detained on Sunday were released without being charged, but scores more were taken into custody on Monday.

The government blamed the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan, a foreign-based opposition group that authorities have designated as an extremist organization, for the clashes between the police and protesters.

The Kazakh state news media quoted the first deputy interior minister, Marat Kozhayev, as saying that “fugitive leaders of this organization” had orchestrated “socially disruptive rallies” and “embarked on a major propaganda push to discredit the authorities.”

The only real question in the election, observers said, was the size of Mr. Tokayev’s victory and whether he would be allowed to come close to matching Mr. Nazarbayev, who won 97.7 percent of the vote in the last presidential poll in 2015.

While intolerant of public dissent, Mr. Nazarbayev mostly avoided the systematic brutality of other Central Asian dictators like Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan, who died in 2016, and Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan, who died in 2006. He also won genuine support from many Kazakhs for keeping their country stable and overseeing its transformation from a poor Soviet satrapy into an emerging and, thanks to revenue from oil, relatively prosperous regional power.

All of the region’s first generation of post-Soviet leaders have been former senior Communist Party officials who mutated into champions of independence as the Soviet Union crumbled. Mr. Tokayev studied in Moscow and served in the Soviet foreign ministry but was never a senior figure in the party.

Source: NYT > World

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