Communism Still Stands in the "Stans": The Former Soviet Republics of Central Asia Continue as Totalitarian Dictatorships, but Have Won Western Aid by Portraying Themselves as Allies in the War against Terror

By Eddlem, Thomas R. | The New American, August 17, 2009 | Go to article overview
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Communism Still Stands in the "Stans": The Former Soviet Republics of Central Asia Continue as Totalitarian Dictatorships, but Have Won Western Aid by Portraying Themselves as Allies in the War against Terror


Eddlem, Thomas R., The New American


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The mass media tells us that communism around the world fell with the tearing down of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It's almost become a proverb. Bur in some places communism never fell. Communism still stands in the central Asian "stans," though often under a different name. The "Stans" are Asian, mostly Muslim former Soviet "republics." Most of the nations' names end with the suffix "-stan" in the English language ("stan" means "nation" or "land"), and without exception all are still burdened with one-party, brutal tyrannies--along with leadership derived from Soviet-era apparatchiks.

And they are all still completely in the Russian political orbit.

One confirmation of this is a 2006 state visit from Uzbek President Islam Karimov and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. "We have a lot of plans with regard to Russia," Karimov told the press during the visit. "Russia is the anchor, the attracting force, the center around which we will ally within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Cooperation and promote our common interests with Russia's aid." Karimov and Nazarbayev pledged fealty to Putin's Russia. "Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan see their future with Russia. From this standpoint, the Eurasian Economic Cooperation is the organization that will keep us on this track. Nazarbayev and I confirm it," Karimov said.

In 2008, Freedom House listed nearly half of the countries in the world as "free" (46 percent), with 32 percent as "partly free" and 22 percent as "not free." The former Soviet "republics" are definitely bringing the global average down. Five of the six nations are flatly listed as "not free," while Kyrgyzstan was listed as "partly free." Russia itself, which still includes some officially independent Muslim "republics," is also listed as "not free."

Kazakhstan: Atheistic Communists Become "Muslim" Communists

Kazakhstan declared independence from the old Soviet Union on December 16, 1991, claiming that it was creating a separate secular state from the old Soviet secular state. The last Soviet "republic" to separate from the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan "elected" Communist Party First Secretary Nursultan Nazarbayev as its first leader. Nazarbayev had been a lifelong Communist Party functionary who publicly converted to Islam in the mid-1990s when he sensed a change in the political winds. And he's certainly been able to tack with the political winds. Nearly 18 years later, Nazarbayev is still in charge of this one million square-mile central Asian nation. Nazarbayev was reelected with 91 percent of the vote in the 2005 elections, an overwhelming margin of victory principally owing to ballot boxes fraudulently stuffed on his behalf.

The U.S. State Department explains that Nazarbayev has successfully given himself dictatorial powers that any Soviet-era leader would have envied. "In 1995, President Nazarbayev called for a referendum that expanded his presidential powers: only he can initiate constitutional amendments, appoint and dismiss the government, dissolve Parliament, call referenda, and appoint administrative heads of regions and Astana and Almaty. The prime minister, who serves at the pleasure of the president, chairs the Cabinet of Ministers and serves as Kazakhstan's head of government."

This is not to say that things have not changed from the Soviet era to today's "independence" era. The Soviet-era KGB was abolished, though it was replaced with the equally vicious KNB (Kazakh National Security Committee). The Communist Party is no longer the only legal political party in Kazakhstan. Now the Nur-Otan Party ("Fatherland-Ray of Light" party) of Nazarbayev is the only political party allowed to win elections. Nazarbayev's Nur-Otan Party holds all the seats in the Majilis, the Kazakh legislative assembly.

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Amnesty International found in September 2008 that "beatings by law enforcement officers, especially in temporary pre-charge detention centres, in the streets or during transfer to detention centres, are still routine.

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Communism Still Stands in the "Stans": The Former Soviet Republics of Central Asia Continue as Totalitarian Dictatorships, but Have Won Western Aid by Portraying Themselves as Allies in the War against Terror
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