The overthrow of President Askar Akayev in Kyrgyzstan is emerging as a powerful catalyst for the Kazakh opposition, which already was inspired by popular uprisings in Georgia and Ukraine. With an upcoming presidential vote, opposition leaders say preparations are afoot for a final push to unseat Nazarbayev.
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Opposition leaders have a litany of grievances against the autocratic president, who has been in power for 16 years and is suspected of being behind constitutional changes that allowed him to remain at the helm.
He is accused of unfairly distributing revenues from the country’s vast energy reserves, which are being exploited by multinational oil and gas corporations from the United States and Europe. Nazarbayev is also blamed for high-level corruption and allowing relatives to control the country’s most lucrative economic sectors.
In addition, Nazarbayev is accused of planning a dynastic leadership handover: His daughter, who controls the most powerful media holding company in Kazakhstan, is now a member of parliament.