December 1991 Kazakhstan gains independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
December 1991 Nursultan Nazarbayev is elected as the president of Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev was previously chairman of the Kazakh Supreme Soviet, the highest legislative body in each republic of the Soviet Union in the interim of the sessions of the Congress of Soviets.
March 1994 The country's first national legislative elections are held. The constitutional court invalidates the elections after a year due to irregularities.
August 1995 Nazarbayev's term is extended as a result of a referendum. In the same referendum, the powers of the president are expanded. The president is given the privilege of being the only person who can initiate constitutional amendments, appoint and dismiss government officials, dissolve Parliament and appoint administrative heads of regions and cities.
August 1995 The 1993 Constitution is replaced by a new Constitution adopted by referendum.
December 1995 Elections for the national legislative bodies are held. Members of the president's party win the majority of the seats.
October 1997 Nazarbayev replaces Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin with Nurlan Utebovich Balgimbayev. Kazhegelgin is forced into exile between 1999 and 2001, and he is sentenced to 10 years in jail in absentia for corruption allegations including tax evasion, abuse of power and illegal arms possession after forming the Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan.
June 1998 The capital of the country is moved from Almaty to Astana. The reason of this movement is explained as economic, ecological and geographic needs.
January 1999 Nazarbayev is re-elected as president of Kazakhstan after winning the elections in which main opposition groups are barred from running. Former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin is excluded for having been convicted of "participation in an unregistered association," as were two other well-known political leaders.
March 1999 Law on Confidential State Affairs defines information about the president and his family and their economic interests as state secrets punishable by severe action. Article 318 of the Criminal Code allows for penalization of people who "insult the honor and dignity of the president."
November 1999 Nazarbayev appoints his son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev to a senior position in Tax Police; later he is appointed to the security agency KNB. He also appoints another son-in-law Timur Kulibayev to a vice president position at Kazakhstan's state energy company, KazMunaiGaz. Kulibayev eventually becomes director of that company.
June 2000 Parliament approves legislation that gives Nazarbayev lifelong privileges when he leaves the office. These privileges include advising key government officials on policy issues and having a permanent seat on the country's Security Council.
November 2001 Rakhat Aliyev, Nazarbayev's son-in -law, is sent to Austria as an ambassador after government troops closed the Karavan newspaper and raided the KTK TV, both of which are owned by Aliyev.
March 2002 Two founding members of the Democratic Choice for Kazakhstan (DVK - Demokraticheskii Vybor Kazakhstana) opposition party, are convicted and arrested on allegations of misuse of power and corruption. Both are found guilty by the court: Mukhtar Ablyazov, one of the two arrested and the former minister of energy, is sentenced to six years in prison, while Galymzhan Zhakiyanov, the other arrested and the former governor of Pavlodar Oblast, is sentenced to seven years in prison. Ablyazov is released from prison after being pardoned by the president. He declares that he will refrain from politics and devote his time to his business after his release. Zhakiyanov is still in prison and has not been pardoned due to pending new corruption cases.
June 2002 Parliament adopts a Law on Political Parties. The new law makes it difficult to create a new political party. The 2005 amendments require a founding congress with minimum attendance of 1,000 delegates, obtaining at least 50,000 verified signatures and registration with the Central Election Commission (CEC). A party may be abolished if it fails to register within two months of its formation, does not participate in two consecutive elections, or polls less than 3 percent of the vote.
August 2002 A new customs agency is established.
September 2002 The president creates the post of ombudsman. The duties of the ombudsman include monitoring respect for human rights, including cases where rights are violated via corruption.
October 2002 Sergei Duvanov, a journalist who wrote articles about corruption issues accusing the president, is arrested just before he is supposed to visit the United State to give a speech about Kazakhstan's human rights situation.
January 2003 The justice minister establishes the Commission for Prevention and Suppression of Corruption in order to prevent abuse of office and misuse of funds by judicial employees.
March 2003 U.S. businessman James Giffen, former consultant to Nazarbayev, is arrested in New York due to the allegations that he bribed senior Kazakh officials, including Nazarbayev and former Prime Minister Nurlan Balgimbaev, with up to US$84million to secure contracts for his consulting firm. The charges against Giffen fell under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Giffen is released after putting up US$250,000 in bail and pledging not to leave New York.
May 2003 After learning that Kazakh authorities are trying to prevent Swiss banks from providing documents to U.S. officials about the "Kazakhgate" scandal, nickname given by journalists to the Giffen case, the U.S. Senate adopts a resolution that urges the Kazakh government to cooperate with the U.S. Department of Justice in the investigation of the alleged bribery case against Giffen.
May 2003 Supreme Court finds former Minister of Transport and Communications Ablay Myrzakhmetov guilty of stealing US$8.2million from state funds. He receives a five-year suspended sentence and three years of probation.
June 2003 Prime Minister Imangali Tasmaghambetov resigns after having a disagreement with Parliament over a land reform bill that would allow private farmland ownership for the first time in the former Soviet republic. Tasmaghambetov called for a confidence vote and won, then abruptly resigned. Tasmaghambetov says he has resigned after learning that the results of the confidence vote had been falsified.
April 2004 The editor of the weekly Rabat, Maksim Yeroshin, asserts that he was assaulted in front of his home due to reports on high-level corruption and other controversial issues.
May 2004 Nazarbayev announces that he supports increasing penalties for judicial corruption.
June 2004 Regional commissions to investigate allegations of police corruption are established.
September 2004 Elections for the lower house of Parliament, Mazhilis, are held. Nazarbayev's Otan Party wins the majority of the seats.
November 2004 A presidential decree establishes a permanent National Commission on Democracy and Civil Society as a consulting body focusing on improving national dialogue, enhancing transparency and including civil society into decision-making process.
April 2005 A new anti-corruption decree restructures disciplinary councils in all provinces to make them more accountable and transparent. The decree also aims at reducing government intervention in the procurement process and all private business.
April 2005 Parliament adopts amendments to the Law on Elections. The new rules prohibit political parties and voters from organizing public meetings after the end of the election campaign until the official declaration of the results.
October 2005 Kazakhstan joins the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which was introduced to increase transparency in payments to governments and state-owned enterprises by energy companies. The Initiative supports improved governance in resource-rich countries through the verification and publication of company payments and government revenues from oil, gas, and mining.
December 2005 Presidential elections are held. Nazarbayev keeps his post for another seven-year term. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) declares that the elections fall short of international standards.
December 2005 Authorities declare that the death of the opposition leader Zamanbek Nurkadilov is a suicide despite the fact that he was found dead with three gunshot wounds, two to the chest and one to the head.
February 2006 The city court closes the newspaper Zhuma Times, which published articles on the "Kazakhgate" scandal, for insulting the president's dignity and honor.
February 2006 Opposition leader Altynbek Sarsenbayev is murdered. The former head of the senate administration, Yerzhan Ultembayev, is sentenced to 20 years in prison for organizing the murder.
March 2006 A new state Commission on Democratization is established. Nazarbayev chairs the commission, whose main tasks include increasing the powers of legislative institutions, enhancing the capacity of judiciary and law enforcement agencies and assisting in the development of civil society. The commission submits its final report in February 2007, and their recommendations form the basis for constitutional amendments presented to Parliament by the president in May 2007. The amendments include increasing the size of Parliament and expanding the role of the local elected councils.
May 2006 Opposition leader, Bolat Abilov, goes on trial for alleged embezzlement and fraud related to an investment fund that he set up in 1993.
July 2006 Nazarbayev's Otan Party merges with Asar Party, led by his daughter, Dariga. The new party is named Nur-Otan to honor Nazarbayev.
January 2007 The Committee to Protect Journalists reports, a judge sentences journalist Kaziz Toguzbayev to two years in prison for "insulting the honor and dignity of the president", a punishable offense under the Kazakh constitution.
February 2007 Rakhat Aliev, son-in-law of president, is dismissed from his government post and sent to Austria as ambassador for the second time after being accused of kidnapping and beating two men.
March 2007 Reporter Oralgaisha Omarshanova from the newspaper Zakon i Pravosudiye (Law and Justice) disappears while on a business trip. Prior to her disappearance, Omarshanova lead the paper's anticorruption unit and regularly published investigative stories.
April 2007 Baker Hughes, a Texas-based oil company, agrees to pay a fine of US$44 million after being found guilty of violating U.S. anti-bribery laws. Part of the fine is related to the complaint that the officials of the company paid US$4.1million in bribes to a high-level Kazakh executive of Kazakh oil, the state-owned enterprise.
May 2007 The president issues a request for Interpol to arrest and extradite Rakhat Aliev, his son-in-law, to Kazakhstan, due to his alleged involvement in the kidnapping of the chairman and the vice chairman of Nurbank, one of the country's biggest banks, in January. Aliyev is accused of money laundering in Austria and of running a Mafia-like network of businessmen in Kazakhstan. He is freed on a US$1.36 million bail while his extradition case is reviewed.
May 2007 Parliament votes for allowing Nazarbayev to keep post for an unlimited number of terms.
June 2007 President dissolves Parliament and calls for early elections. Darigha Nazarbayeva, daughter of President Nazarbayev, divorces exiled criminal Rakhat Aliyev, creating even more tension surrounding Aliyev's trial proceedings.
August 2007 Parliamentary elections result in a grand victory for Nazarbayev's Nur-Otan Party, which wins every seat in the lower house of parliament.
November 2007 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) names Kazakhstan as the chair of the organization for 2010 despite human rights and media freedom violations.
March 2008 Rakhat Aliyev, Nazarbayev's exiled former son-in-law , receives a 20-year prison sentence in absentia for allegedly planning a coup. He denies the charges.
May 2008 Aliyev promises to provide the United States' government with documentation of bribes accepted by Kazakh officials, including Nazarbayev, from U.S. oil companies. Aliyev's criminal past makes it likely that the information is reliable, and that its timely release could be an attempt to blackmail Nazarbayev into dropping charges against him. The U.S. investigates the scandal and Aliyev is ready to provide evidence to them in the coming months. Aliyev's former wife, and daughter of Nazarbayev, Darigha Nazarbayeva, is reported to have hired U.S. firms to monitor the investigations into the bribery scandal involving her father, known as "Kazakhgate." It is speculated that Nazarbayeva is trying to quell the investigation in anticipation of its impact on her future political aspirations.