Biographies of the Presidents of the Central Asian Republics


Iraj Bashiri

copyright (c) 2003, Iraj Bashiri

Nursultan Nazarbaev


Nursultan Nazarbaev was born into a peasant family in the village of Chemolgan, in Kaskelen district, Almaty region, on July 6, 1940.

In 1967, he graduated from an advanced Technical Institute supervised by the Karagandy integrated iron-and-steel works and, in 1992, defended his doctoral thesis entitled, Strategy of resource saving in condition of formation and development of market relations, at the Russian Academy of Management in Moscow. In 1993, he became an Academician of the International Engineering Academy and in 1994, an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences of the Russian Federation. The following year, he became an Academician of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Nazarbayev has received many honorary professorships, as well as degrees, and accolades, including the Honorary Professor of the Al-Farabi Kazakh State National University, the Honorary Member of the Byelorussian Academy of Sciences, and the Honorary Professor of the M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University.

Nazarbayev’s career began in 1960 as a worker at the construction directorate under the "Kazmetallurgstroi" Trust (Temirtau, Karagandy region). Later on, he worked as an iron founder and a blast furnace attendant at the Karagandy metallurgical works.

Between 1965 and 1969, he returned to the Karagandy metallurgical works and served as a dispatcher, a gas operator, and a senior gas operator of the blast furnace plant.

Nazarbayev’s political career began in 1969 in Komsomol activities in Temirtau, Karagandy region. Between 1973 and 1977, he was the Secretary of the Party Committee at the Karagandy Integrated Iron-and-Steel Works. From 1977 to 1979, he was the Secretary, and the Second Secretary of the Karagandy Regional Party Committee.

From 1979 to 1984, he was the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan. Thereafter, until 1989, he was the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Kazakh SSR. Between 1989 and 1991, he served as the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan.

Since April 1990, Nazarbayev has been the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In 1991, he won the presidency with 98.7 percent of the vote. In 1995, Nazarbayev's presidential term of office was extended up to the year 2000. In January 10, 1999, Nazarbayev was elected again as President with 79.78 percent of the vote.

Nazarbayev holds many offices including the Chairman of the Assembly of Peoples of Kazakhstan (1995), the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Kazakhstan (1993), the Chairman of the World Association of Kazakhs (1992), the Honorary Chairman of the Friendship Fund of Peoples of Central Asia and Kazakhstan, the President of the International Fund for Rehabilitation of the Aral Area (1993-1997), and many others.

Nazarbayev has authored a number of works, including, Steel Profile of Kazakhstan, With Neither the Right nor the Left, Strategy of Resource Saving and Market Transition, Strategy of Formation and Development of Kazakhstan as a Sovereign State, Market and Social-and-Economic Development, On the Threshold of the XXIst Century, In the flood of history, The Epicenter of Peace, and others.

Nazarbayev’s wife, Sara Alpysovna, is an economics engineer. Currently she is the Chair of the "Bobek" (Kiddy) International Children's Charity Fund.

The Nazarbayevs have three daughters: Dariga, Aliya, and Dinara. Dariga is the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of CC "Khabar" Agency, Aliya is the head of Educational Fund named after Nazarbaev, and Dinara is in charge of "Elitstroi" Building Corporation. They have four grandsons and one great-granddaughter.


Askar Akayev


Askar Akayev was born into the family of a farmer, in the village of Kizil-Bairak, Kemin district, on November 10, 1944. He is the son of Akay Tokoyev and Asel Tokoyeva.

Akayev graduated from secondary school with a gold medal in 1961, and from the Leningrad Institute of Precise Mechanics and Optics with distinction in 1967. Soon after, he finished his post-graduate studies.

In 1972, Akayev receives his Candidate of Science degree. The title of his thesis was, New approximate analytical method for solving multivariate boundary value problems of heat conductivity and its application in engineering practice. In 1981, he defended his Doctor of Science degree. The title of his dissertation was, Theoretical fundamentals and calculation methods for holographic storage and digital information transforming systems.

Between 1972 and 1986, he worked for the Polytechnic Institute in Frunze (now Bishkek) as an engineer, assistant, lecturer, senior lecturer, and head of department. His 1972 book (written jointly with Professor S. A. Mayorov) entitled, Coherent optical counting machines, won the USSR State Prize in the same year. His other book, Optical methods of information processing, is used as a textbook at the higher educational establishments of Kyrgyzstan.

For his overall contributions to research and development of problems of counting techniques, Akayev received the prestigious Lenin Komsomol Award.

In 1984, Akayev was elected as a Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences of Kyrgyzstan; he also became an academician.

During 1986-87, he headed the Science Department of the USSR Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kyrgyzstan. In 1989-1990, he was the President of the Academy of Sciences of Kyrgyzstan.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, during the period that the Central Asian republics struggled to gain their independence, Akayev was elected by the Kyrgyz Parliament as the President of the Republic (October 27, 1990).

On October 12, 1991, at a nation-wide election, Akayev was elected the first president of independent Kyrgyzstan. In 1992, he was "The Man of the Year" in Kyrgyzstan. Akayev’s powers as president were enhanced in 1994. In 1995, he was elected for another term.

Askar Akayev is the recipient of many scholarly, humanitarian, and professional awards.

Akayev’s wife, Mayram Akayeva, is a professor specializing in mechanisms and machines theory. The author of more than 30 scientific works, she is the Head of the International Charitable Fund for support of maternity and Childhood "Meerim." The Akayevs have 2 sons and 2 daughters.


Saparmurad Niyazov


Saparmurad Atayevich Niyazov (Turkmenbashy) was born on February 19,1940 in Ashgabat. He graduated from the Polytechnic Institute in Saint Petersburg (former Leningrad) in 1967. He became a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1962.

Niyazov’s career began in 1959 as an instructor at the Trade Union Organization of Mineral Prospecting Works in Turkmenistan.

From 1967 to 1970, he served as a Power-engineering specialist and a senior master at the Buzmeyin Power Station. During the next decade (1970-1980), he held various political posts including the Head of Section of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan.

From 1979 to 1984, he was the First Secretary of the Ashgabat City Committee of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan. During this time, Niyazov improved the infrastructure of the capital city, concentrating on housing, schools, and hospitals.

In 1984, Niyazov was called to Moscow where he served on the staff of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In 1985, Niyazov returned to Turkmenistan as the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan. Between 1986 and 1991, he was a member of the Central Committee of CPSU and also a member of the Politburo during 1990-1991.

On October 27, 1991, in a nation-wide referendum, Turkmenistan was proclaimed an independent state. Niyazov became Turkmenistan’s first president, Prime Minister, and the Chairman of the Council of Ministers.

In 1992, the new Turkmen constitution gave extraordinary powers to the president. In 1994, Niyazov was elected president of Turkmenistan until 2002. As the only candidate, he won with 99.0 percent of the vote. Niyazov is also the Chairman of the National Soviet of the National Council of Turkmenistan, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Turkmenistan, the President of the Humanitarian Association of the Turkmen of the World, and the Chairman of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan. In 1990, his own rubber stamp parliament voted him President-for-Life.

Saparmurad Niyazov is married and has two children. Poetry, philosophy, history and music are among his interests. 


Islom Karimov


Islom Abduganievich Karimov was born on January 30 1938 into a family of civil servants in Samarkand. He graduated from the Central Asian Polytechnic Institute with a degree in mechanical engineering. He also graduated from the Tashkent Institute of National Economy with a degree in economics.

Karimov’s career began in 1960 at Tashselmash. From 1961 to 1966, he worked as an engineer, and a lead design engineer, at the Chkalov /Tashkent aviation production complex.

In 1966, Karimov became the chief specialist and later the first deputy chairman of the State Planning Committee of the UzSSR. In 1983, he was appointed the Minister of Finance of the UzSSR. In 1986, he became the Vice-Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the UzSSR, deputy Head of Government, and the Chairman of the State Planning Office.

From 1986 to 1989, he served as the First Secretary of the Kashkadarya Provincial Party Committee. In June 1989, he became the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan. On March 24, 1990, the Supreme Council of UzSSR elected Islom Karimov as the President of Uzbek SSR. On August 31, 1991, he declared the independence of the Republic of Uzbekistan and, on December 29 of the same year, in a multi-candidate election, he was elected President. In a national referendum, on March 26, 1995, his term in office was extended to 2000. On January 9, 2000, he was reelected as head of state.

Islom Karimov’s wife, T. A. Karimova, is an economist and scientific worker. The Karimovs have two daughters and three grandchildren.


Rahmonov, Imomali


Tajik political leader Imomali Sharipovich Rahmonov was born into the farming family of Sharif Rahmonov on October 5, 1952, in the village of Danghara in the Kulab region (Khatlan) of southern Tajikistan. He received his early education in the Kulab region and proceeded to work as an electrician in an oil factory in Qurghonteppa. He performed his military service in the Navy in the Pacific Ocean. He then entered the Communist Party. After demobilization, he returned to his job at the oil factory.

Rahmonov graduated from the Tajikistan State University in 1982 with a degree in economics. Between 1976 and 1988, he was a party functionary serving as the Chairman of the Trade Union Committee of the Danghara Collective. In July 1988, he became the Director of the Lenin State Farm in Danghara. On November 2, 1992, he was elected Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Kulab Regional Council of People's Deputies. On November 19, 1992, at the 16th session of the Supreme Soviet, 12th convocation, he was elected Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Tajikistan. On November 6, 1994, he was elected President of the Republic, and took the oath of office on November 16, 1994. On September 26, 1999, following changes in the Republic's constitution, he was reelected president for the next seven years. On September 30, 1999 he was the Chair of the 54th session of the 18th General Assembly of the United Nations.

Among Rahmonov's accomplishments during office mention can be made of ending the Civil War and the repatriation of refugees who had fled to Afghanistan and other neighboring countries; stemming the flight of non-Tajiks and safeguarding the territorial integrity of the Republic; making peace with the Opposition; facilitating communication across the land; and the revival of traditional Tajik customs. Rahmonov became an Honorary Member of the International Academy of Medicine and has received the Albert Schweitzer award and established the Order of the Spitamen.

Rahmonov's contributions include Tojikon: Chahor Soli Istiqloliyat va Khudshinosi (The Tajiks: Four Years of Independence and Self-Recognition, 1995), Tojikon dar Oyinaii Ta'rikh (Tajiks in the Mirror of History, 1997), Javononi Oyandai Millat (The Future Youth of the Nation, 1998), "Farhang Hastii Millat Ast ("Culture is the Existence of People", Dushanbe, 2001), Tojikiston: Dah soli istiqloliat, Vahdati Milli va Bunyodkori (Tajikistan: Ten Years of Independence, National Unity and Foundation Building, Dushanbe, 2001), and others.