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Since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan has been led by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, a Soviet-era politician who has remained in the position by concentrating all political power in his office.1 No election in the post-Soviet republic has ever met international standards; in March 2015, Nazarbayev won reelection with 95 percent of the vote in a snap election widely panned by the international community.2 Beyond the complete absence of free and fair elections, the current Government prohibits citizens from enjoying their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, association, and religion. In the past few years, there have been major crackdowns on newspapers, which are the only source of independent news in the country, and many of the country’s prisons are filled with detainees serving sentences for peacefully assembling without a permit. Of particular concern to many states and international organizations is the pervasive use of torture in state-run detention centers.
Since the Republic of Turkey’s founding in 1923, its military has been the guarantor of the country’s secular values. In accordance with this perceived role, the military has organized several coups, the results of which have been a strained relationship with the country’s Islamist civilian governments. The first coup occurred in 1960 with the arrest and execution of then Prime Minister Adnan Menderes by Turkish generals. In 1980, the Turkish military rewrote the constitution to grant itself increased political power. And a coup in 1997, known as the “postmodern” coup, targeted Islamist influence in Turkish society, including the Fethullah Gülen Movement.1
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