(NYTimes) MOSCOW — After 30 years in power, the aging president of Kazakhstan jolted the oil-rich former Soviet republic and the region at large on Tuesday with the surprise announcement that he was resigning.
Nursultan Nazarbayev, 78, the last surviving president in Central Asia to have steered his country to independence after the Soviet Union collapsed, stepped away from running daily affairs, but maintained considerable authority over the sprawling country sandwiched between Russia and China. […]
“He was conscious of his own international prestige,” said Marlene Laruelle, the director of the Central Asia Program at George Washington University in Washington. “He thought it would be good to be remembered as a president who stepped aside and did not die in power.” […]
[…] Mr. Nazarbayev was “sending out the image that Russia is unable to find a solution while Kazakhstan has,” said Ms. Laruelle, even if Mr. Putin, at 66, is much younger and was just elected last year to another six-year term. “It is indirectly, symbolically, putting pressure on the Kremlin.”
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