Nazarbayev Reelected in Kazakhstan

(From http://www.eurasianet.org)

The results of the April 26 presidential election in Kazakhstan offer a good illustration of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s aversion to what he described last month as “forced democracy.” He won reelection with almost 98 percent of the vote.

Nazarbayev_at_2011_Nur_Otan_Congress

The election victory for the 74-year-old Nazarbayev, who in addition to the presidency also holds the official title Leader of the Nation, came on a record turnout of 95.22 percent, according to preliminary results released by the Central Electoral Commission the morning after the vote.

“Kazakhstan has demonstrated its high political culture and democracy to the international community,” Nazarbayev told supporters during the evening of the election.

At a subsequent news conference, the president professed to be embarrassed by the Soviet-like level of voter support for his reelection. “I apologize that for super-democratic states such figures are unacceptable: 95 percent participation and more than 97 percent [of ballots cast for him]. But I could do nothing. If I had interfered, I would have been undemocratic,” said Nazarbayev, who has led Kazakhstan since before the 1991 Soviet collapse.

Nazarbayev trounced two little-known challengers – Turgun Syzdykov of the government-loyal Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan, who received 1.6 percent of the vote, and Abelgazi Kusainov, a member of the ruling party led by Nazarbayev, Nur Otan, who trailed with 0.7 percent.

Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said in a statement released on April 27 that a “lack of genuine opposition limited voter choice.”

“The incumbent and his political party dominate politics, and there is a lack of a credible opposition in the country,” Cornelia Jonker, the head of the OSCE mission, stated. There were also “significant restrictions” on freedom of expression and the media environment.

Nazarbayev has regularly cautioned that the democratization process in Kazakhstan needs to be carefully managed in order to preserve domestic stability. Nazarbayev has defended Kazakhstan’s democratic record in the past: once remarking that in terms of democracy, “our glass is half or three-quarters full, and we have to fill it up.”

Passover in Eastern Europe and Asia

We are sorry to be late, but during the Passover season wish to extend special greetings to wonderful friends of the Jewish faith. Chag Pesach Kasher V’Sameach! (!חג פסח כשר ושמח)

A special thanks to business relationships with awesome friends whose work is often featured in the Mendeleyev Journal: like Sophie Tupolev and Alexander Lebedev.

Palm/Pussywillow Sunday in Russia

Wishing all our friends in the West a blessed Easter and celebration of the resurrection. Easter dates are calculated a little differently in the Eastern world and today we celebrate what you would call Palm Sunday, although Christians in the East call it “Pussywillow Sunday” (С Вербным Воскресеньем!) for the Pussywillow branches symbolizing the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.

palm pussywillow sunday c

THE RESURRECTION AND THE WILLOW

In Slavic lands the willows grow,
By streams and bogs and waters low.
The ancient Slavic peoples saw,
That willows bloom before the thaw,
When warm winds end the frigid cold,
And break, at last, the winter’s hold,
To greet the spring and celebrate,
The vernal advent’s advocate,
Of growth, renewal, life and light,
And set the cosmic order right.
The Slavic peoples gathered in,
The flow’ring willow branches in,
Their homes to decorate anew,
To cure their ills, their lives renew.
Then one day there came from far,
A new religion which would bar,
The grasp of ancient evils’ hold,
Upon the Slavic souls as told,
By True Glory’s saving creeds,
To grant men life and serve their needs.
The Word Made Flesh who lived and died,
And rose again as verified,
By Holy Writ and voices old,
Who testified as was foretold.
Christ is risen from the dead,
And by His death as truly said,
He trampled death and life He gave,
To those who lie within the grave.
And thus the lowly willow came,
The Resurrection to proclaim,
Bear witness to the Great Event,
For which the Holy One was sent.
So when the cold of winter ends,
The message that the willow sends,
And that the flow’ry branches say:
NEXT WEEK IS RESURRECTION DAY!