Even before the beginning of elections in the Republic of Kazakhstan in Majilis, which took place on August 18, influential Western newspapers launched a campaign to discredit the expected, in principle, voting results. “The situation with human rights in Kazakhstan is terrible, and elections in this country have never been held in accordance with international standards,” the Wall Street Journal wrote in July. "The New York Times" before the elections, on August 17, begins to "unwind" the story of the alleged letter to the President of the country from the former head of the National Security Committee (KNB) of Kazakhstan, Nartai Dutbayev, about measures taken to "influence the information and operational activities of the international Office of Democratic Initiatives and Human Rights (OSCE / ODIHR) ”. According to the newspaper, this impact was made during the presidential campaign of 2005, when the current president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, won a deafening victory, gaining 91% of the vote. The results of the parliamentary elections themselves are negatively evaluated by the Western press, using a hackneyed stereotype about the impossibility of holding truly free and open elections in Kazakhstan as an Asian country. “Not quite exemplary democracy” or “Democracy in Kazakhstan” with such headings began articles about the results of parliamentary elections.
Perhaps such a rigorous assessment of the European and American press is related to the fact that, from their point of view, the republic does not have an ideal political system, where the powers and influence of the country's leader are somewhat broader than, as is customary, say, in Brussels or London. But we must not forget that the full power, which the current President Nursultan Nazarbayev has, will not be available to his followers. They will have a shorter term of office, five years instead of seven, and there will be no more restriction on the number of elections for the highest post, no more than twice. Of course, it is difficult to argue with the fact that not a single member of the opposition will be represented in the new parliament. But if there were any violations in favor of Nur Otan, they do not change the overall picture of public confidence in the current president and his party.
According to many observers, the lack of an alternative to the pro-presidential party in the political field of Kazakhstan speaks about the underdevelopment of the institution of a political party as such. The lack of dynamics in the development of this system is explained by the fact that today Nursultan Nazarbayev is a too weighty political figure for any party that does not support him to appear. In the future, with the departure of the 67-year-old president from big politics, this issue will still be resolved, as there are quite powerful economic actors in the country who are not taking political steps out of loyalty to the president.
The critical position of the foreign press is all the more strange because it is very beneficial for the Western countries to have Nazarbayev in power. First of all, he is the guarantor of stability for a country in which tens of billions of dollars of Western investments are invested, a country that is already becoming a major supplier to the world market for oil, gas and uranium. Secondly, the Kazakh president is taking active steps to diversify the routes for delivering energy resources to world markets, including the areas that are demanded by the EU and the US, bypassing Russia, are developing.
Most likely, the negative assessment of the election results is due to the fact that the West wants to have more and more leverage on the richest energy resources of the young republic. By agreeing to the chairmanship of Kazakhstan in the OSCE in 2009, the United States and its allies, as it were, recognize the success of the republic towards democratization, which means that the most convenient and win-win leverage under the name “insufficient democratization” disappears.
All these multi-way intrigues of the West are gradually “cooling off” the democratic fervor of the young republic. In official statements and informal conversations, representatives of the Kazakh elite are increasingly saying that they need to focus less on the opinion of the West. And apparently, the emerging sentiment is beginning to be realized. For example, the republic’s leadership decided to revise the unfavorable terms for a production-sharing agreement concluded in the early 1990s to develop the Kashagan field, and in the long run, perhaps for other projects in the Caspian. Currently, the share of Kazakhstan in the largest field, whose reserves are estimated at 1 billion tons of oil, is just over 8%. Statements by senior government officials indicate that the republic intends to increase its share to 40% due to multiple delays in project implementation and an increase in its cost, as well as due to numerous environmental violations as compensation for its losses. The project operator, the Italian company Eni, agrees to provide only 20-25% to Kazakhstan. In order to support the position of the operator, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi is expected to visit in the near future, which is quite possible in the first half of October.
In the meantime, the government of Kazakhstan has suspended for three months the validity of a permit issued to the Italian company Eni at the Kashagan field. This was announced by the Minister of Environmental Protection of the Republic Nurlan Iskakov on Monday, August 27 at a briefing in Astana.
The struggle for Kashagan is important because it is this field, with planned annual production of about 60 million tons of oil per year, should become not only the main field of Kazakhstan in the Caspian Sea, but also the main supplier of black gold for the pro-Western Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline . That is, this is a kind of payment of Astana for the loyalty of the West. It turns out that the fee is insufficient.
Some Western newspapers admit in their articles on the results of the elections that Kazakhstan will still have to be given the post of OSCE chairman in 2009, despite the violations. Perhaps the recent actions of the republic’s leadership were a response in the ongoing big political game.
According to the head of the CIS mission, Vladimir Rushailo, the mission of the CIS observers recognized the parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan as legitimate and democratic. The mission reported on the results of the work. In Kazakhstan, during the election campaign from the CIS mission, 448 observers were working in different regions. In its report, the mission of the CIS observers noted that the election legislation of Kazakhstan contains all the necessary legal and organizational guarantees for holding fair, free and open elections. The head of the mission, V. Rushailo, also positively assessed the work of the Kazakhstan Central Election Commission. As he said, the mission did not experience difficulties in its work; observers could receive all the necessary information and assistance from the chairmen of election commissions in the field. Media monitoring also showed that all parties received equal rights and opportunities to cover their campaign.
We recognize the elections held free and transparent. I believe that these elections were a reflection of the stable socio-economic development of the state, were a continuation of the political reforms carried out in the country, the most important factor in further democratization of the life of society. I suggest that other international observers who share the conclusions and assessments of the mission of the CIS observers join this statement. This statement will be sent by the head of the CIS observer mission at the extraordinary elections of deputies of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the heads of states of the Commonwealth.