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Unfulfilled Promise

By Sally N. Cummings

This paper analyzes the dynamics between Kazakhstan’s centralizing policies and the mounting economic and political centrifugal forces in a country eleven times the size of the United Kingdom, with over one hundred national minorities. The political stakes are further raised by the republic’s vast potential mineral wealth and geostrategic importance, situated as it is between Russia, China and the Middle East. The physical relocation of the capital from Almaty in the southeast to the north-central Astana in 1998 is a graphic illustration of how the regime has sought to overcome the problems posed by geography and demography.

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