Kazakh government to grant president hero award

By the Associated Press | November 29, 2011 | 3:25 AM EST

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) — Kazakhstan's government plans to bestow the ex-Soviet Central Asian nation's president with title of People's Hero in the latest effort to consolidate a state mythology around the former Communist Party boss.

Prime Minister Karim Masimov was quoted by local media as saying at a Cabinet meeting Tuesday that the law establishing the award would be the "most important document that I have ever signed in my life."

State-sponsored adulation for 71-year old Nursultan Nazarbayev has reached fever pitch as the country prepares to celebrate the 20th anniversary of independence in December.

Last year, the single-party Parliament anointed Nazarbayev with the status Elbasy, or "leader of the nation." That gave him the right to approve important policies after he retires and grants him lifetime immunity from prosecution.