Should We Care?

by Joshua Foust on 1/25/2007 · 3 comments

Kazakhstan has a shiny new opposition party, the Social Democratic Party. Though it’s nice to see another party spring up in Kazakhstan, good ol’ Uncle Nazzy doesn’t look quite ready to deal with a legitimate multi-party system just yet—the SDP is just the latest party to face roadblocks and delays registering with the Ministry of Justice, and when even the U.S. embassy, which is keenly interested in keeping relations between Astana and Washington smooth, admits human rights in the country are in a miserable state, it’s safe to assume not much will come of this.

However, it is encouraging to see people trying. Governments don’t change if they people don’t want them to. Seeing opposition spring up from within Kazakhstan, as opposed to from without through various NGOs, is a healthy thing. Let’s hope Uncle Nazzy’s secret police don’t harass the SDP too much before the next round of elections. Maybe then we can get a better idea of whether or not there actually is discontent with his regime, or at least if people feel safe enough to express it.

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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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Dolkun January 25, 2007 at 8:59 pm

“Seeing opposition spring up from within Kazakhstan, as opposed to from without through various NGOs, is a healthy thing.”

Which NGOs are you referring to, and which opposition movements did they start?

Joshua Foust January 25, 2007 at 9:03 pm

It was more of a general comment on the influence groups like Freedom House have had over other “democratic oppositions” in the region. I’m unaware of any specific American NGO exerting direct influence over the Kazakh political process in a way similar to Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, or Ukraine.

Dolkun January 26, 2007 at 3:02 am

At least you name the country and the NGO. Normally, it’s “forces from a Western country” or “we all know who’s behind this.”

Supported, sure. Influenced, even inspired, by all means, though people are free to choose their influences and inspirations, no? Initiated? that’s a different question, and I have yet to see a shred of evidence to support it.

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