Copyright ©2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY KAZAKHSTAN")

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Chances are you can't quite place this song. Or really, you've probably never heard it. This is "My Kazakhstan" and it's the national anthem of that Central Asian country. And it features lyrics re-written by the country's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Yesterday, the people of Kazakhstan celebrated their longtime leader with a new holiday they called First President's Day, and it marks the anniversary of the president's first election in 1991. That was just after Kazakhstan left the Soviet Union.

Observers say the oil-rich country is democracy-poor. Nazarbayev won his last election with 95 percent of the vote. The president has also developed what looks like a cult of personality in the former communist country. He has a university named after him. Films and fairytales laud his presidency. And Nazarbayev already has a national holiday every year on his birthday.

Yesterday, on First President's Day, demonstrations broke out around the country in support of the president. But to quote a report in the Associated Press, "To what extent the participation was voluntary was unclear."

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: