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Kazakhstan's former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who resigned in March after nearly 30 years in power, was a great admirer of the Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew. For Nazarbayev, Lee's leadership showed the importance of strengthening the economy before liberalizing politics. In 2018, Kazakhstan ranked 124th out of 180 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index.Nazarbayev installed a loyal successor, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who used his first presidential decree to name the capital city after Nazarbayev and then called a snap election that, like those held by his mentor and patron, was rigged.One such movement -- called Oyan, Qazaqstan (Wake up, Kazakhstan) -- emerged just before the June election.This does not mean that there are no economic solutions to Kazakhstan's struggles. In my view, three economic reforms should urgently be pursued to help address inequality and unemployment in the short term.Nonetheless, appeasing Kazakhstan's people -- and thus stabilizing its politics -- must take priority.
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