— Zinaida, could you tell us about those who were in the group of creation of the Constitution?
— The constitutional group was headed by N. Nazarbayev and I was his deputy. The group of young experts was headed by a patriarch of our legal science Gayrat Sapargaliyev, who, unfortunately, already died. He was very famous scientist, lawyer, professor and academician. When I had spare time between meetings, I used to go to the place where the group under his leadership had been working, and we discussed each article and the section of the Constitution. Baurzhan Mukhamedzhanov, Konstantin Kolpakov, Talgat Donakov, Yury Kim and others were a part of the working group.
Working group on development of the Constitution of 1993
We transferred ready materials for discussion to the constitutional commission which was very extensive. All chairmen of committees of parliament, representative from the government and scientists were part of it. Sometimes they spend a long time on one article or position. And only in January, 1993 we finally accepted the Constitution.
— The last word in discussion of articles of the Constitution was made by Nursultan Nazarbayev?
— He was the developer therefore each article, each word of each norm he read very carefully. He was the chairman of the commission therefore this entire project he knew by heart.
It was very difficult and transient period. To implement cardinal ideas was very difficult as society was anxious. Everybody remembers in what condition was an economic development and social sphere. Thus, everything was very sensitive, and to be at front lines was impossible.
It is necessary to represent Kazakhstan of that time, 1992–1993. When we worked on the Constitution, the political sphere was restless. Infinitely there were new non-governmental organizations which were financed not from treasury of the state.
We shall remember Kazakhstan in 1992–1993, when we worked on the Constitution, the political sphere was anxious. The new non-governmental organizations, which were financed not from state’s treasury, had been growing.
They collected a certain electorate around themselves, thus, the state sometimes had to announce their actions to prevent wave of anxiety in society. There were also strikes: around parliament there were yurts with people lying there. At that time they, might be had a legal rights: people had to work, live and feed their families. Not only principals of legal bodies and the government, but also we, deputies organized meeting with people, invited them to the government to explain the situation and listened their requirements in order to relive the tension.
It was necessary to begin construction of the new state on the basis of the new legislation which is not existed at that time. New living condition had to be invested with precepts of law to define rules of conduct of all participants of the public relations in the sphere of economy and the market relations, policy and social sphere. All of these required precepts of law. Thus, first of all it was necessary to adopt the Constitution.
The Constitution of Kazakh SSR was not valid already. In December, 1991 KazSSR stopped its existence and was renamed into the Republic of Kazakhstan. December is a special month for Kazakhstan. In December 1, for the first time we re-elected the Head of state, in December 10, we renamed the republic and on December 16, we adopted «The Law on Independence». Later in Kazakhstan the meeting of principals of the former Soviet republics on creation of the new community or union was held. All relations were torn, it was impossible to develop in such way.
Creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States
Unfortunately, I did not vote for «The Law on Independence» because I had to fly on the eve of that day at the request of the President to prepare the draft of the first document on creation of the new commonwealth. Shahray, Kolpakov and I worked in Moscow to prepare the document. In the morning we left Moscow and flew to Kiev. My colleague, the vice-president of the Supreme Council of Ukraine, told that nobody will go to Alma-Ata from their side, and they won not sign any document.
Nursultan Nazarbayev again showed such initiative. He said that we need to integrate as we have common railroads, pipelines and air spaces. We should come to agreement about how we would act in such conditions: «I agreed with principals of already new states, you will work there with experts and will bring this document» — said N. Nazarbayev to me. After that the meeting had to be held in Alma-Ata.
Zinaida Fedotova during the work in the Supreme Council
Half a day I waited in Kiev before the president of Ukraine agreed to meet with me. I explained that without any results I cannot go back as I was delegated by the President. Finally, the president Kravchuk signed Belavezha Accords. I came to him and he said to me: «Yes, Nursultan Nazarbayev rang me, let’s talk». We had a nice conversation over a cup of coffee. As a result we agreed that he will come to Alma-Ata. From Kiev to Minsk I flew with my experts.
A good environment waited for us in Minsk. My colleague told us that the president Shuchkevich will come to a meeting. Further I flew to Moscow. At night we landed at other airport and missed our flight. In Domodedovo I had to prove that with this briefcase, which was at my hands, I had to be in Alma-Ata in the morning. I asked to give me transport that will lift me to any airplane that will fly to Kazakhstan, and had to talk with pilots. I was told that there is an airplane to Karaganda, but there are no places.
Young pilots opened the airplane, I introduced myself, said that they might saw me on TV, and not I stand in front of them alive. I said that they should take not only me on a board, but also two people. They closed a door and promised to think about it. As a result they told us that we can fly with them on the first rows, the places for mail. Certainly, without any doubt, we accepted it. By the morning we reached Alma-Ata. And at the same morning I went to work with documents, where representative of all former federal republics already gathered.
The whole day we prepared the document, had to redo each line again. At that time there were no computers, everything was processed on the typewriter. The heads of states looked and read it, and said their remarks, which we had to redo it again. As a result we prepared the document on creation of association. We did not know how to call it. What it will be: union? Commonwealth? There were many suggestions. It was very important not to frighten people that it is way back, but instead show that it is something new.
Thus, the new document of Commonwealth of Independent States was created. We continued our work. In integration processes in the big territory of the former USSR, the leading role was played by our region and our President. He was able to come to agreement, invite and work without conflict with colleagues from other states.
With the first ambassador of USA in Kazakhstan U. Courtenay
My work did not end. He invited me and said: it is necessary to be engaged in the organization of the commonwealth of parliaments, again fly on the same circle. I flew to Moscow, then to Belarus where we offered the document on creation of Inter-parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth countries. It was necessary to ratify many documents of the Commonwealth and create legislative base of the State Parties. From the moment of creation of Inter-parliamentary Assembly, Kazakhstan always actively worked: I initiated the first Civil code, the ecological legislation and other acts which were recognized within the CIS and appeared bas basic and model.
— Did Russia and Republic of Belarus adopt the constitution, when independent Kazakhstan did?
— Practically, we adopted it at the same time. Certainly, all of us studied foreign experience. The first Constitution played a role during such intense period, but not all issues were resolved. It was the Constitution of a transient period which played a role in stabilizing of society, gave the chance in development of the current legislation. The entire world was looking at us. Thus, we had to make amendments to the Constitution of KazakSSR.
The constitution of 1993 was adopted on the basis of the Declaration on the state sovereignty and the constitutional law on the state independence. The basic principles of laws were in these two important historical documents. The decision on a two-chamber parliament was soon madу. There were question concerned to it functions, and also functions of the government and president.
By that time we already publicly elected the President and it was necessary to define his power as the head of state and highest official. It was necessary to allocate accurately the power of parliament as legislature and government. As the parliament had large power, but had no mechanisms of their implementation. The government has these mechanisms. All these issues were resolved by the Constitution of 1995. It already considered new realities: very much the vigorous political and economic activity of the state, high-quality improving of the social sphere.
— Please, tell, how the Declaration on Independence was written.
— We had the whole commission, we wrote the Declaration on Independence. Then we transferred leadership to our famous lawyer, S. Zimanov, unfortunately, today he is not with us, he already passed away. The composition of the working group was very interesting: representatives of the government, Minister of Foreign Affairs, representative of labor unions, non-governmental organization and prominent scientists.
In front of each of us there was a blank sheet. We wrote «The project. The declaration on Independence» also worked on the document by hand. All laws were written manually, and then given on the printing. Between groups the direction were distributed, for example, questions of foreign policy activities, defense, economy and social sphere. We wrote about how we see the new state, ourselves in the world community, armed forces and many other things.
At that time the parliament work every day till 10 pm. After that it was necessary to look the agenda, go to the chairman and invite principals of structural subdivisions of apparatus and tell that it works at nights, so that deputies can come in the morning and on their decks would be the documents, according to which the plenary session would be organized. Later when the parliament became two-chamber, we could work till 6 pm., and before that we did not know when we will finish.
Today we forget, but it is necessary to say about people who serviced deputy corps — they are experts, workers of the office of the Supreme Council (after Parliament). They are people who did not pay attention on time. They all the time processed materials, one document after another. Some documents which could take ten days or a week had to be ready in a day. And in the morning we had to read, stamp and give everything to the chairman, the prime minister and the president for the signature.
We worked with pleasure, did not afraid of anything and adopted new laws. Before creation of a two-chamber parliament the President permanently was in a conference hall because absolutely new laws and norms were adopted. Anytime when we were happy or dissatisfied with the life, the Head of state appeared the wise person and the strategist, because we did not see what is ahead, but he saw. Yet the tough time did not end, and he speaks: we will go to the new capital. Integration was his idea. He suggested to the states which are in close borders with us.
It is necessary to remember a role of the personality in the history when people go to vote on choices. Because in the power can be either creator, or destroyers. Our President appeared as the creator. He calls everyone to work hard and works himself.