Voting was under way in snap parliamentary elections in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan on Sunday.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who announced the elections in January, is likely to further consolidate power, even as the economy tumbles alongside the price of the country's major export - oil.
The polls were "a milestone in the ... history of Kazakhstan," Nazarbayev said Sunday as he cast his ballot, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
"We shall elect the parliament which our country needs," he added. "Great changes are happening in the world, and Kazakhstan should comply with them."
The elections were originally planned for next year.
Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party doesn't face competition for the 107-seat Mazhilis, or lower house of parliament. Results are expected on Monday.
The 75-year-old has been at the helm of the country for 25 years, extending his reign in April 2015 when he won another presidential election.
He insisted Sunday that following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan had achieved "colossal success in the economy," TASS reported.
The former Soviet republic in Central Asia is rich in natural resources, but its economy and national currency have borne the burden of plummeting prices for oil.
International observers have never considered an election in Kazakhstan to be free and fair.
Sunday, March 20, 2016 - 20:23
Sunday, March 20, 2016 - 22:17