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Eternal presidents of post-Soviet countries: how they achieved decades in power and pompous titles

Color of the nation, Founder of the world, Patron. What titles do the presidents of the countries of Central Asia have? "Present time".

Photo: Shutterstock

The Uzbek deputies proposed to confer the honorary title of Leader of the Nation on President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Initially, the initiative came from Senator Kudratilla Rafikov. He even wrote an article praising Mirziyoyev's services to the nation.

Rafikov said that Uzbeks, especially the younger generation, trust the president very much, and that Mirziyoyev is admired among children. At the end of the article, Kudratillo Rafikov called for the president to be called "Millat sardori" - "Leader of the nation."

This practice is not new to Central Asian countries. Almost all heads of state in the region have received high-profile titles.

The first in the region to receive the honorary title was Saparmurat Niyazov, the first president of Turkmenistan. The authoritarian leader assumed the title of Turkmenbashi in 1993, which means “Head of the Turkmen”. Both officials and ordinary citizens addressed him in this way. Then they decided to immortalize the title of Niyazov in geography - the name Turkmenbashi was given to a whole city, a number of villages and streets and even a mountain peak. Also in use was the unofficial title "Serdar" - in Turkmen "Leader".

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His successor, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, followed in Niyazov's footsteps. In 2011, the council of elders awarded him the title of Arkadag. Officially, the title of the state media of Turkmenistan is translated as “Stronghold, support and hope” or “Patron”. Citizens of the country should address and refer to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov as “our merciful Arkadag”. In parallel with this title, the President is also called “Savior” and “Color of the Nation”.

The leader of the nation lives in Kazakhstan - Nursultan Nazarbayev received this title in 2010. In the full version, it sounds like the “First President” - “Elbasy”. In honor of him, on December 1, a public holiday is celebrated in Kazakhstan. On this day, the country is resting. And the birthday of Nazarbayev himself, perhaps, coincidentally coincides with the day of the capital, which is named after him. The president In 2019, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan signed a law on amending the country's Constitution regarding the renaming of the capital of the Republic of Astana to Nur-Sultan.

The President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, the Founder of Peace and National Unity, the Leader of the Nation, is not lagging behind his colleagues. The head of the country received this title in 2015, and with it the opportunity to run for the presidency an infinite number of times. In addition to his official title, state media and officials refer to Rahmon as “Your Majesty,” “Your Excellency,” and “Leader of the Nation.”

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It is also worth remembering about the permanent leader of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. The nickname “daddy” was first used in relation to Lukashenka in the mid-1990s. Later, this nickname was fixed in the Belarusian and Russian-speaking societies, including in the leading mass media. In a number of interviews, Lukashenka called himself that nickname.

Decades in power

State leaders also do not want to give up the reins of government and in every possible way are trying to extend their "political life", says D.W.

In the early 1990s, all CIS countries adopted constitutions that limited the duration of the presidency of one person, as a rule, to two terms - 4-5 years each. However, subsequently, many heads of the former Soviet republics received the right to run for more terms, and somewhere they increased the length of the terms themselves or made personal exceptions.

Presidential term is a loose concept

Former President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov remained in this post from 1991 until his death in 2016. In March 2015, he won the next presidential election for the fourth time, gaining 90,39 percent of the vote. At the same time, in the 90th article of the country's constitution, since its adoption in 1992, the norm has invariably been fixed that “one and the same person cannot be the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan for more than two terms in a row”.

One term for Karimov was written off, recognizing it as "zero", since its countdown began in 1991, even before the adoption of the current constitution. And to the OSCE's questions on the eve of the 2015 elections why the president is running for a third term in violation of the constitution, the country's officials gave a rather original answer, recorded in the report of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. “The term“ term ”means the exact number of years, and since earlier the presidential term was seven years, and now it will be five years, these terms cannot be considered as two consecutive terms,” the Tashkent office explained.

President is forever

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko is the first and still the only president of his country, holding this post since 1994. Two years after his first election victory, a referendum was held to amend the constitution, after which Lukashenko, following the example of Karimov, “reset” the countdown of his five-year presidential term. Therefore, his second term began in the new century, after winning the 2001 elections.

Three years later, another referendum was held in the country, deleting from the constitution a norm that limited the number of consecutive presidential terms for the same person. Lukashenka is currently in office for the sixth term in a row.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev won his first presidential election in 1991, being the only candidate on the ballot. Four years later, his presidency in Kazakhstan was extended by referendum until 2000. After that, Nazarbayev won three more presidential elections. In 2007, the Kazakh parliament adopted amendments to the country's constitution, limiting the powers of the head of state to two terms. However, an exception was made for Nazarbayev as the first president of Kazakhstan - he can run an unlimited number of times.

His next term in office expired in 2020, but in March 2019, 79-year-old Nazarbayev announced his resignation. However, he retained the posts of head of the country's Security Council and chairman of the ruling party, and his daughter became the speaker of the Kazakh parliament.

Photo: Shutterstock

Country Governance - Family Business

Ilham Aliyev replaced his father as president of Azerbaijan in 2003, and five years later he again won the presidential elections. In 2009, during his second term as president, he held a referendum that approved constitutional amendments. According to one of them, the same person can be elected head of state more than two times in a row. The European Commission called that referendum a serious step back in the development of democracy in Azerbaijan.

In 2016, the country held another referendum on amendments to the constitution - this time the presidential term was extended from five to seven years. In addition, the post of first vice president was established, which was occupied by the wife of the head of state, Mehriban Aliyeva. In the last elections in Azerbaijan, held on April 11, 2018, Ilham Aliyev won again, gaining 86,22 percent of the vote, thus gaining the opportunity to remain in the presidency for a fourth term. The opposition boycotted the elections, and international observers reported widespread violations of voting rules.

Reset deadlines

The first president of Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akayev, took advantage of the opportunity, popular among the leaders of the CIS countries, to “zero” the first term and remained in power until the “Tulip Revolution” of 2005, after which he fled to Russia.

President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon has repeatedly used the opportunity to "zero". He first took over as head of state in 1994, remaining in that post after the 1999 and 2006 elections. Every time between elections, he held referendums on major changes to the constitution, which canceled his previous terms. One of the versions of the basic law provided for an increase in the term of office of the head of state to seven years.

In January 2016, the Tajik parliament once again voted for constitutional amendments that would allow the incumbent president to run an unlimited number of times and lower the age threshold for presidential candidates from 35 to 30 years old. According to experts, the adopted amendments will allow Rahmon's eldest son, Rustam Emomali, to participate in the upcoming elections in the fall of 2020.

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In Russia, Vladimir Putin, after two consecutive presidential terms permitted by the Constitution of the Russian Federation, in 2008 gave way to Dmitry Medvedev, and he himself moved to the chair of the prime minister. Medvedev, literally a few months after taking office, proposed amendments to the country's fundamental law, increasing the duration of the presidential term from 4 to 6 years. By the end of 2008, these amendments were ratified.

And in 2012, Vladimir Putin again took over as president of Russia - now for 6 years, taking advantage of the fact that in the Russian constitution there was only a limit on the number of presidential terms “in a row”. In the March 2018 elections, Putin was formally elected head of state for a second six-year term, but in fact for a fourth. As a result, he adopted amendments to the Constitution, which reset his terms to zero and now has the right to run for president twice more.

Something went wrong

Former President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan has held office since 2008. At that time, the head of state in Armenia could be elected for no more than two consecutive terms of five years. During his second term as president, Sargsyan carried out constitutional reforms that transformed the country into a parliamentary republic.

The election of a new prime minister, who now became the first person of the state, in 2018 was supposed to complete the transition of Armenia to a new form of government. The parliament, controlled by Serzh Sargsyan, elected him as prime minister, which allowed the ex-president to retain power, despite the impossibility of running again for the presidency. This development of events led to the "velvet revolution" in the country. As a result, Sargsyan resigned, and opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan became the new prime minister.

In Ukraine, the option with the third term of Leonid Kuchma was possible due to the "zeroing" of his first presidency by the decision of the Constitutional Court of the country. However, Kuchma himself did not take the opportunity to run again. As a result, after the collapse of the USSR, not a single president of Ukraine exceeded the two terms of 5 years allowed by the constitution. The same applies to Georgia and Lithuania, where similar restrictions have been introduced for the same person holding the highest office in the state.

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