It is not easy times on the great Eurasian steppe as the winds of change are blowing. But when had it been easy, one might ask? For two months prior to the 9 June presidential election, Kazakhstan, the world’s largest landlocked country, had engaged in a risk-ridden exercise of power transition, the first in the state’s post-Soviet history.

The world, as well as its neighbours both big and small, watched as the oil, gas and minerals giant carries special weight in the region, where it trumps ...

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