Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev (Kazakh: Нұрсұлтан Әбішұлы Назарбаев), (Russian: Нурсултан Абишевич Назарбаев) (born 6 July 1940) is a Kazakh politician who served as the first President of Kazakhstan, in office from 24 April 1990 until his formal resignation on 20 March 2019, and as the Chairman of the Security Council of Kazakhstan from August 1991 to January 2022, holding the title Elbasy (meaning "Leader of the Nation") since 14 June 2010. He was one of the longest-ruling non-royal leaders in the world, having led Kazakhstan for nearly three decades, excluding chairmanship in the Security Council after the end of his presidency.
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- I have always been and remain a sincere supporter of the well-known formula – "Economy first, then politics". This principle is comprehensive, extending to both domestic and foreign policy of our country. This approach ensured consistency in all spheres of Kazakhstan's development, i.e. from economic reforms to building pragmatic relations with partners in the international arena.
- We managed to build a successful Kazakhstan state with a modern market economy on the ruins of the Soviet Union, create peace and stability within a multi-ethnic and multi-religious Kazakhstan. For the first time in our centuries-old history, international legal recognition of the Republic of Kazakhstan has been secured. Kazakhstan has been put on the world map, where it did not exist as a state. We have our own flag, anthem, coat of arms.
- The systemic transformation of the current world is a strategic challenge for our people. We must be ready to accept them.
- Finally, it is important to move from an unproductive sanctions regime to direct dialogue between the leaders of the key global powers who are shaping the future of the world. In this regard, it is necessary to discuss ways out of the current geopolitical crisis between the representatives of the United States, China, Russia and the European Union. I am negotiating with the leaders of these states. It is necessary to build this work from a dialogue of key think tanks with a further transition to the ministerial and higher levels.
- In a short period of time, we were jointly able to build economic corridors that bypassed complex natural landscapes and geopolitical contradictions. Thanks to modern logistics and mutual understanding of states, goods from Southeast Asia can reach the cities of Northern Europe in just two weeks. At the heart of this is pragmatism and the pursuit of prosperity.
- The other former Soviet republics, except Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, were headed by communist party chiefs who restyled themselves as patriots and used their political patronage to secure themselves in power. Nursultan Nazarbaev in Kazakhstan was typical. He put his long-established group of clients in the main offices of state and gave outrageous benefit to his family as privatisation proceeded. He overrode constitutional and legal obstacles; his police used torture against dissenters. His policies blatantly discriminated in favour of individuals and groups of Kazakh nationality. In central Asia and the south Caucasus it was the same story. The new leaderships had familiar faces. The post-communist presidents and their regimes were more brutal than anything witnessed in the region since the death of Stalin.
- Robert Service, Comrades!: A History of World Communism (2010)
- All of northern and northeastern Kazakhstan is actually part of southern Siberia. It is settled mostly by Russians, who, just like the other non-Kazakhs--together making up 60% of Kazakhstan's population--are being repressed in their national, cultural, business and daily life. How can a minority govern a majority? Only through duplicity and force. That's exactly what happened in the recent "elections" in Kazakhstan. Kazakh President Narsultan Nazarbayev today is regarded in the West as a great democrat. But he has already become an effective dictator.
- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Interview With Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn on the New Russia and Ukraine (May 1994), by Paul Klebnikov, in the (9 May 1994), issue of Forbes magazine