We are launching Kazakhstan's Echo as a new project designed to bring our readers a sense of the diversity of opinions from Kazakhstan and on Kazakhstan.

Thinking aloud about the opposition

By Karatai Turysov from Kazakhstanskaya Pravda, Astana

I am not accustomed to and I never longed for public statements on political issues. My past publications mainly concerned social and economic sphere and they are well known. Recently, however, I feel strongly urged to speak out on the obsession in the society and media about the new opposition, the, quote-unquote, Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DCK).
What worries me most is that this ado, which practically came out from nothing, is artificially sustained, provoking the split in the society. All of this fuss robs people of the opportunity to live and work calmly.
From the very beginning I would like to talk directly about the not so proper choice of a name the organizers gave to the new movement. Kazakhstan already made its democratic choice way back in December 1990 in the Declaration of state sovereignty. Secondly, the republic has been consistently implementing this main choice in front of the entire world throughout all these years. What democratic choice? What new is there in the program of the newly surfaced movement?
As it turns out, there's no breakthrough in the DCK proposals. Everything that is declared so pompously in Kazakhstan and international media has since long been outlined in the presidential programs and, more importantly, has been implemented step by step. Not happy with the tempo [of reforms]? But the people themselves voted for consistent, well thought-through and prepared reforms without upheavals.
So, the constructive approach declared by the young oppositionists I take as a renunciation of what has been done and a non-recognition of more than 10 years of work of the Kazakhstan society, as well as a detriment to the foundations of our nation and the Constitution.
I follow closely the polemics about the democratic changes promoted by the DCK. I cannot get rid of the thought that all the ballyhoo raised by the opposition is designed with the single objective in mind, which is to destabilize the situation in Kazakhstan in order to come to power themselves. This is the main goal of the opposition and Mr. Kazhegeldin as its main ideologue.
And that should be discussed openly not only in the lobbies. People must know that.
I can hardly be suspected of pursuing some special personal, career or commercial interests. I have already achieved everything that I was to achieve in this life, and I did this without any protection and protectors and I continue to serve my people and my nation with all my strengths and abilities.
Looking back at the path covered by the nation, I want to say that Nursultan Nazarbayev played an outstanding, that's the word, role in the establishment and the development of an independent Kazakhstan.
Quite often he made extraordinary decisions which first astonished many people in Kazakhstan but then were embraced unequivocally.
Let's recall the year of 1993 and the introduction of the national currency. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the world was amazed at how quickly and with what dignity the President of Kazakhstan solved this complex task.
Take, for that matter, the closure of the Semipalatinsk test site and the decision to voluntarily renounce the nuclear weapons. From other countries' examples we know how difficult it is to renounce the temptation to possess nuclear weapons. And yet, this man made the only correct step for the nation aimed at the future. Take the transfer of capital to the city of Astana that at first was not taken seriously even by the presidential entourage.
There are dozens of other decisions and actions by our President due to which Kazakhstan has taken a distinguished place in the world community and a stable, and I would say, creative situation was established in Kazakhstan. It is creative because every person in Kazakhstan has finally got an opportunity to chart one's own life as he or she pleases without commands and limitations from above.
I follow closely the international contacts of Nursultan Nazarbayev. I am not sure there is anybody else in the republic who could have managed to find understanding with the world leaders, the leaders of Russia, China, the United States, other large countries of Europe and Asia, as well as to create such strong political and economic interest to Kazakhstan, within such a short period of time.
Of course, he did have his share of mistakes. The most significant, in my view, are those in personnel selection. Those led to the appearance of such "statesmen" as Kazhegeldin and some others, which, having been fired from the state position, unfortunately, turned into uncompromising oppositionists to Nazarbayev. But, perhaps, there's no single person in the world who did not make mistakes with selecting people for the jobs. Seems like one cannot do without them in such a grand enterprise.
For the main result of this enterprise, which cannot be renounced even by the most ardent oppositionist, is our Kazakhstan, a Kazakhstan walking confidently into the future. Our people believe and support the President and, I am sure, will support him because he led the people through these difficult years of hardship.
A sovereign and independent Kazakhstan is his creation brought up together with the people.
And, finally, I would like to say frankly this. I don't like that some opposition leaders are engaged in wishful thinking. There is no organized opposition in our country, and I state this responsibly. As a rule, political parties and associations are mostly represented by certain individuals or small groups of people. They claim to be the leaders of the parties and movements but these have been hastily established and are looking for their personal gains. All of them exploit economic difficulties of the country and propose very few solutions. Populist and sometimes even speculative activity of some individuals does not amount to constructive opposition. As a rule, few really think about their country and their people.
The Communist Party of Kazakhstan is the only more or less organized opposition party. It has a social base and a vertical structure of power in the regions Its rank and file, though, do not always share the often ambitious views of its leaders.
Of course, there should be an opposition in a civilized society. We left single-mindedness in the past in order never to return to it. But the opposition must work for the benefit of their nation and people. If someone develops itching for power, he should first ask himself: will he work selflessly for the benefit of his Motherland?


Mr. Turysov is the Chairman of the Finance and Budget Committee in the Majilis, the lower house of Kazakhstan's national parliament. At 68, he is one of the longest serving and the most respectable members of parliament with a distinguished 40-year long career in public service. This article appeared in "Kazakhstanskaya Pravda" daily (www.kazpravda.kz) June 15, 2002.

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Kazakhstan's Echo

A monthly publication of the views and comments on developments in Kazakhstan


September  9, 2002                       No. 1