Although President Nursultan Nazarbaev’s reelection seems a foregone conclusion of the January 10 presidential balloting, international monitors will carefully watch the conduct of the electoral process as it affects Nazarbaev’s three underdog competitors. One of these is senator Engels Gabbasov, 41, a professional writer with a background also in ecological affairs.
In his campaign appearances, Gabbasov calls for: (1) restoring the state monopoly in the oil, gas, and nonferrous metals sectors; (2) a stronger role for the state in the economy in order to “correct mistakes” made during privatization; (3) cheaper tariffs for energy use by the population; state subsidies to agriculture; and (4) restoration of some of the Soviet-era social benefits financed by the state. He does not clearly explain how the state could finance these expenditures.
In foreign policy, Gabbasov calls for closer economic ties with Russia and the quadripartite CIS Customs Union, developing Kazakhstan’s relations with Arab and Middle Eastern countries, and cooperation with the United States and Western Europe. Somewhat inconsistently, in light of some of these proposals, Gabbasov urges that Russia reimburse Kazakhstan for the immense ecological damage wrought by Soviet and post-Soviet testing at space centers and military bases in Kazakhstan (Russian agencies, December 17, 18, 22).
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