It may sound like a typical post-Soviet sham election, but it's not quite. Most autocrats, post-Soviet and otherwise, just quietly go through the motions of elections, trying to draw as little attention to them as possible. Not Nazarbayev. Three days before the vote, he published an op-ed in the Washington Post titled "Kazakhstan's steady progress toward democracy." He sent an adviser on a tour of Western capitals to promote the election; in Washington, the adviser -- modestly, it turns out -- predicted Nazarbayev would win between 80 and 92 percent of the vote.
Foreign election observers found evidence of ballot box stuffing and apparent multiple votes, charges that the government quickly denied. "I believe that it is the most ideal election ever in the history of all the elections," said one presidential adviser, Yermukhamet Yertysbayev.