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Putin’s Vexing Kazakh Ally Stages Ballot After Riots, Purges

  • Incumbent president called snap vote, seeks seven-year mandate
  • Critics question efforts to reform system of vested interests

Kazakh elections on Sunday will cap months of political high drama for President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, in a year that started with violent protests he called a coup attempt and included his open defiance of Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine.

The stakes are high for Tokayev, 69, even if the outcome of the ballot itself is a foregone conclusion, with little in the way of campaigning or debates. His five obscure rivals have avoided criticism of the incumbent, the hand-picked successor of Kazakhstan’s first and only other president, Nursultan Nazarbayev.