There is an interesting piece posted recently on Foreign Policy’s website that highlights how authoritarian-minded leaders in Eurasia are becoming adept at leveraging thuggish behavior.
The article, titled “The League of Authoritarian Gentlemen,” is written by Alex Cooley, a Central Asia specialist at Columbia University. It examines the ways in which Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan have used the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to stifle dissent.
You might imagine that Astana would want to keep off the world stage amid the international outcry over an ongoing bid to extend the rule of Kazakhstan's Leader of the Nation.
But fresh from steering his country through the chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) – during which he fondly reiterated Astana's commitment to the OSCE’s democratic values – Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev is heading to the United States, which has been a vociferous critic of the bid to prolong the rule of President Nursultan Nazarbayev to 2020 (by which time he’ll have been in power for three decades) by referendum.
During his three-day trip, which gets under way January 24, he'll be meeting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with whom he shared a podium at a press conference at the OSCE summit in Astana in December. The two described to journalists how they’d discussed Kazakhstan’s commitment to democratization, which now looks somewhat ironic as the bid to keep Nazarbayev in office until the age of 80 steamrolls ahead.