The New Elite in Post-Communist Eastern Europe

By Vladimir Shlapentokh; Christopher Vanderpool et al. | Go to book overview

8
The Ruling Elite of Kazakhstan in the Transition Period

Rustem Kadyrzhanov

One cannot separate a study of post-Communist Kazakhstan's ruling elite from the social context of the transition period during which the country reached its independence in 1991. This context is a complicated and contradictory social reality. The contradiction emerged as an opposing relationship between the reforms of the transition period (declared and conducted by the ruling elite, which was oriented toward the creation of a modern society in the republic)1 and Kazakhstan's totalitarian and traditional past, which structured the transition period. The social reality of the transition period in Kazakhstan has been formed under the influence of three different yet interconnected factors: the traditional clan and tribal structure of the Kazakh ethnic group; the legacy of the former Soviet social and political system; and the new phenomenon of post-Soviet development in the republic.


Formation of the Elite

The ruling elite of modern Kazakhstan has the character of a typical post-Communist elite in the newly independent states (CIS). For the most part, the conclusions and observations concerning the Russian new elite are also relevant to the Kazakhstan elite. Both formed in the same social and political context at the close of the Soviet period and by the objective forces governing the development of these states in the post-Soviet period.

The transformation process of the Kazakhstan political elite began in 1990. At the union level such transformation began in 1989 in the course of the transference of power from communist party bodies to Soviet government bodies.

Unlike the union center and other parts of the USSR, in Kazakhstan

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