I have analyzed the amendments to the current Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan proposed for the referendum on June 5, 2022 and would like to share some of my thoughts.

1. Despite the general sentiments of Kazakhstanis to get rid of any mention of the first President of the country in the Constitution, in paragraphs 3 and 3-1 of аrticle 2, the name of the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan as the city of Nur-Sultan is preserved. I believe that the capital should be renamed and its historical name, Akmola, should be returned to it. The name “Nur-Sultan” was adopted by the conjuncture of the first President to please him. If we decided to get rid of the authoritarianism of Nursultan Nazarbayev, that we need to abandon the mention of his name in the name of the capital of the country, the airport of the capital, the university and streets throughout the country. Therefore, the first thing to start with is to remove the words “Nur–Sultan” from the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

2. In paragraph 4 of article 2 and everywhere under the Constitution, the name of our country is mentioned as “Kazakhstan”. Now there is a discussion in society that our country should get rid of the ending “stan”, which is associated all over the world with disadvantaged countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and so on. There is a proposal to call our country the “Kazakh Republic”. I believe that this proposal makes sense, and such a variant of the country’s name should be submitted to the next referendum.

3. In this version of the law, the form of government of the state has not been changed, it still sounds like “presidential”, although the issue of transition to a parliamentary republic has long been discussed in society in order to avoid repeating old mistakes and slipping into the cult of personality of any of the next presidents. I think this issue should be publicly discussed and put to the next referendum.

4. The new version of the Constitution excludes the concept of “Constitutional Council” and introduces the concept of “Constitutional Court” instead. Without going into the details of the differences between these two concepts now, I will say that I support this proposal, I think it is correct.

5. In article 6, paragraph 3, the words about the ownership of the land and its subsoil to the state were replaced by the ownership of the people. However, they wrote further: “On behalf of the people, the right of ownership is exercised by the state.” I think it’s a play on words. Nothing changes. But, to tell the truth, nothing can be invented here. There is no other way but to manage the land through government agencies. The whole nation cannot make a decision on every piece of land in a referendum.

6. In the proposed version, the special status of the russian language was left in article 7, which states that russian is consumed in state organizations and local self-government bodies on an equal basis with the Kazakh official language. This is one of the painful issues in our society. I think we have come to a point where we must deprive the Russian language of privileges and equate it with all other languages of the world. The state language should be Kazakh and no other languages should be mentioned separately in the Constitution.

7. In the new version of the Constitution, article 15 completely abolished the death penalty. I agree with that. I believe that Kazakhstan should adhere to international humanitarian norms and abandon the death penalty, as many developed countries of the world have done.

The most severe punishment that a person can incur is life imprisonment in prison.

8. The new version of article 23 clarified which civil servants may not be members of parties and trade unions while performing public service. These are chairmen and judges of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and other courts, chairmen and members of the Central Election Commission, the Supreme Audit Chamber and so on.

I agree with this amendment. People who administer justice and decide the fate of people on behalf of the state should not be guided by the interests of some individual parties.

9. A small amendment has been made in article 24 and it is deciphered when forced labor can be used: only on the basis of a judicial act on finding guilty of committing a criminal or administrative offense. I think this is the correct clarification.

10. Article 30 of the current version of the Constitution states that a citizen has the right to receive free higher education on a competitive basis at a state higher education institution. I think that this norm is outdated and does not correspond to reality. As far as I know, state grants can be paid for the education of students not only in public, but also in private universities. I think this amendment should be introduced at the next referendum.

11. Article 41 of the current version of the Constitution states that the constitutional law may establish additional requirements for presidential candidates of the Republic of Kazakhstan. I believe that this is a loophole that the current government can use to prevent unwanted candidates from being elected. Therefore, I believe that the restrictions that are already specified in the Constitution itself are sufficient, it is impossible to give the opportunity to introduce other restrictions.

12. In the current article of the Constitution, in article 42, paragraph 5, it is written that the same person cannot be elected President of the Republic more than twice in a row. I agree with the opinion of many citizens of the country on social networks that the word “in a row” should be removed from this phrase, that is, to make it so that one person could not be president of the country for more than two consecutive terms or with a break. This would be another additional guarantee against the possible usurpation of power by the current president of the country.

13. The proposed version of the Constitution excludes the second sentence of paragraph 5 of article 42, in which the first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan is given the opportunity to be elected president an unlimited number of times. Of course, I agree with this amendment and I think it does not cause anyone any questions now.

14. In the proposed version of the Constitution, in article 43, two new paragraphs have appeared:

1. Item 3. For the period of exercising his powers, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan must not be a member of a political party. I agree with this amendment.

2. Item 4. A close relative of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan is not entitled to hold the positions of political civil servants, heads of quasi-public sector entities. I also agree with this amendment. We cannot allow nepotism and cronyism to form in our country around the president, we cannot allow a return to the order created by Nursultan Nazarbayev. This possibility should be eliminated at the root.

15. In the new version of the Constitution, the powers of the President exclude his right to cancel or suspend the acts of akims of regions and cities of republican significance and the capital. I support such an amendment and believe that the President should not interfere in the activities of regional akims at such an operational level.

16. In the proposed version of the Constitution, Article 50 states that the President appoints not 15, but 10 deputies of the Senate. Thus, the influence of the President on this body is partially reduced, which is certainly correct.

17. In the new version of the Constitution, in Article 51, the proposal on the election of nine deputies of the Mazhilis by the Assembly of Peoples of Kazakhstan is excluded. Thus, the influence of the Assembly of Peoples of Kazakhstan on the Parliament is reduced. I agree with this change.

18. The new version of the Constitution, Article 52, provides for the possibility of depriving a deputy of the Mazhilis of his mandate in case of recall by voters in accordance with the established procedure. Of course, this is a positive moment, which increases the responsibility of the deputy to his constituents.

19. The new version of article 53 provides for the right of Parliament to adopt constitutional laws. I do not agree with this amendment. Moreover, I believe that the right of Parliament to make amendments and additions to the Constitution should be abolished in the current version of the Constitution. Only the people of Kazakhstan should have such a right through a referendum. Neither the President nor the Parliament should have such a right.

20. In the new version of the Constitution, in article 61, two new paragraphs have appeared, according to which the Government can submit urgent laws to Parliament in the event of a threat to the life and health of the population, the constitutional order, the protection of public order and the economic security of the country. Moreover, the Government has been granted the right to temporarily adopt laws in these cases until the Parliament considers this issue. I consider such amendments impractical, since they neutralize the principle of separation of powers and, at least temporarily, but grant the executive the powers of the legislature. There shouldn’t be such a situation. Laws should be passed by Parliament, and the Government should only implement these laws.

21. In the new version of the Constitution, in article 72, the powers of the Constitutional Court (the current Constitutional Council) have been expanded. Now this body can consider not only the appeals of the President and the courts, but also the citizens of the country, as well as the Prosecutor General and the Commissioner for Human Rights. I consider this a step towards expanding the rights of citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

22. The new version of the Constitution has a whole separate article 83-1 dedicated to the Commissioner for Human Rights, which describes his rights, as well as his inviolability in the performance of his official duties. I consider this a positive development in the protection of human rights in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

23. In the new version of article 87, an amendment has appeared, according to which the President appoints the akim of the region with the consent of the maslikhat, while nominating not one, but at least two potential candidates. This shows some progress towards selectivity and competitiveness in the appointment of akims of the regions.

24. In the new version of article 91, the phrase indicating that the fundamental principles of the activity of the Republic of Kazakhstan were laid down by the founder of independent Kazakhstan, the first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Elbasy, disappeared. It is with great joy and satisfaction that I support this amendment. References to the first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan should be completely excluded from the Constitution of our country.

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