Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev (born July 6, 1940 in Chemolgan, Kazakhstan) is the current leader of Kazakhstan. He has been in office since 1990. He was originally elected to a term of service of only four years, but in 1998 wrote a decree to keep himself in power for at least 7 more years.
His policies take a balanced route, being pro-West whilst trying to retain Russia's support. He has opened Kazakhstan's lucrative Tengiz and Kashagan oil-fields to American oil firms. Domestically, he has adopted a policy similar to China's in that he is pursuing economic development prior to political liberalization, sometimes resulting in draconian policies and harsh clampdowns on dissent, including the disqualifications of electoral opponents and the muzzling of the press, which incidentally is controlled by his daughter, Dariga Nursultanovna Nazarbayeva. Nevertheless, he is highly respected in the West for his even-handed development of the country and his maintaining stability and growth in a volatile, energy rich region.
He is seen as one of Central Asia's more enlightened rulers and he has done much to improve the lot of the common Kazakhstani in the face of allegations that he stashed well over a billion US dollars in Swiss bank accounts and allegations of rampant corruption involving himself and many members of his government. He initiated the move of the administration from Almaty to Astana.
He is married to Sara Alpysovna Nazarbayeva with whom he has had three daughters, namely; Dariga, Dinara and Aliya.