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Rights groups have said that the Kazakh government has made no progress on commitments to improve media freedoms or election laws and that the OSCE chairmanship would damage the organization’s integrity.

Martin Nesirky, a spokesman for the body, acknowledged some of these concerns while pointing out that the position is decided by member states and that the chairmanship can be a means of promoting reform.

In July, Richard Boucher, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Central and South Asia, said the Kazakh government had made “slow and uneven progress” and must show a greater commitment to reform by the end of this year.