Five presidential candidates are now officially registered in Kazakhstan - Nursultan Nazarbayev, Alikhan Baymenov, Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, Erasyl Abylkasimov and Mels Yeleusizov.
By the number of mentions in the press, on television and radio, of course, the current president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, is leading.
In terms of popularity, Nursultan Nazarbayev is not only a favorite, but perhaps the only possible, unallocated candidate. The voters do not really know the other candidates, and perhaps many of them do not want to know. From this point of view, the elections are just another legitimization of the power of the current president. According to statements by opposition leaders, who also nominated their candidates for participation in the elections, Nazarbayev has been conducting his election campaign practically from the beginning of the year, although the rest could not start it earlier on October 25. There is a certain reason in their statements, Nursultan Nazarbayev became noticeably more active at this time, in terms of public policy. He conducted a number of trips around the regions of the country, answered questions from citizens on the air, made statements for the press, etc. This activity is quite expedient, both from the point of view of exercising the powers to govern the country, and also quite expediently as an election campaign.
The Kazakhstan Internet publication Navigator has published on its pages the results of the monitoring of Kazakhstani media, regarding the frequency of references to presidential candidates in Kazakhstan. As was to be expected, the current president is leading here, with a very large margin. Other candidates complain about the difficulties of campaigning, the small amount of airtime allocated, the physical inability to meet with voters in all regions of Kazakhstan, etc.
The opposition to the president is currently weak and fragmented and, perhaps, therefore, could not nominate a single candidate for the upcoming elections.
Initially, it was supposed that Zharmakhan Tuyakbai would become such, however, in the beginning of autumn of this year, another candidate, Alikhan Baymenov and his Ak Zhol party, launched an active election campaign. Objectively, this should contribute to the “outflow” of the part of the votes that one common opposition candidate could receive. On this occasion, one of the leaders of the True Ak Zhol party, Bulat Abilov, and journalist Lira Baiseitova, expressed on the pages of the Navigator Internet newspaper that Baymenov acts in collusion with the current government.
Power and Media
Despite the above-mentioned facts, which give every reason to believe that Nursultan Nazarbayev will win the election on December 4, 2005, the executive branch has taken a number of measures that cannot be considered undemocratic. Within one week, the circulation of two opposition newspapers was seized in Kazakhstan, five journalists were detained and the opposition Navigator website was banned.
The Navigator had to change its address in the network twice. At first, the reason for this was the closure of his domain name in the .kz domain zone, which was motivated by the fact that the site hosting was not physically located in Kazakhstan (to this practice, as far as I know, no country in the world has yet resorted). However, the Navigator turned out to have registered in advance addresses in other domain zones, where he moved. Then the Almaty City Court officially forbade the publication to use the words "Navigator", "Navi", etc. in its title. The reason for this was the lawsuit of a certain S. Bondartsev who registered a publication with the same name. His actions, according to the Navigator, were inspired by the authorities. Now the site has the address www.mizinov.net, and the court is unlikely to prohibit the editor-in-chief of Navigator to use its surname as an Internet address.
Other measures are being taken to prevent citizens in Kazakhstan from viewing this site. This is, first of all, an artificial slowdown in its loading, practiced by the largest Kazakhstani providers. On the Navigator you can see the documented results of attempts to download the site via a regular modem. It is almost impossible.
On October 19, five journalists were detained in Almaty. These are Saya Issa from Svoboda Slova newspaper, Olesya Hasanova and Almas Nurdos from Stan.kz news portal, Ruslan Sapabekov from Zhuma-Times newspaper and Eldes Myrzakhmetov from Soz-Respublica newspaper. They were detained without giving reasons, and They did not allow them to meet with their lawyers. The police forced them to destroy all the pictures of the incident. Three journalists were soon released, and the two were kept in police for several more hours.
On the same day, 50,000 copies of the opposition newspaper Freedom of Speech were seized by policemen of the Medeu district of Almaty. She was accused of “insulting the honor of the president” Nursultan Nazarbayev. The reason for this accusation was the article where the question of a CNN journalist was literally brought up about whether the president of Kazakhstan is not a regular dictator.
Gulzhan Yergaliyeva, the editor of the newspaper Freedom of Speech, still managed to take the rest of the circulation to the headquarters of the For Fair Kazakhstan movement.
On October 22, 2005, the Almaty Inter-District Administrative Court, chaired by Judge B. Zaurbekova, examined the administrative case against Gulzhan Yergaliyeva, she was accused of spreading false information about candidates or political parties.
The judge made a decision in absentia to impose a fine in the amount of 50 MCI (about $ 40) on Ergaliyev and the destruction of the entire print run of the newspaper Svoboda Slova - one hundred thousand copies.
On the same day, the case of the newspaper "Zhuma-Times" was considered. Closed court hearing was held without the accused, the defense and witnesses. There was not a single representative of the newspaper in the meeting room. The judge, together with the prosecutor, issued a decision on the guilt of the Zhuma-Times newspaper. The penalty is a fine of 40 MCI (about $ 30).
On October 26, in Uralsk, according to the information of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, the police seized 12,000 copies of the opposition press. Moreover, according to witnesses to this action, the police behaved incorrectly, provoking a fight.
“We now have a unique chance to have a normal, civilized opposition that offers programs that explain their steps to the people, which are different from what they have today,” said Nazarbayev in an interview with the country's official media. However, what happened, goes as if in conflict with these words. Because of such events, the authorities in Kazakhstan have to constantly make excuses. It is unlikely that such a tactic is beneficial to Nursultan Nazarbayev. The case is most likely in a huge and cumbersome bureaucratic apparatus. Moreover, if the level of top managers in it does not cause any complaints, then as it moves to the foot of this “pyramid” it rapidly decreases.