Advanced search

Kazakhstan

Geography

Picture:petroleks
The map of Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is located at the centre of the Eurasian continent - at the crossroads of ancient civilizations and transport routes. It is the ninth largest country in the world with a variety of climatic conditions, and a diverse population of nationalities (about 100 different nationalities are represented in the republic). Today's territory of Kazakhstan was inhabited mainly by the Turek nomads, and it is known that the state existed at least from the 6th century. The etymology of the word "kazakh" is diverse, but most researchers observe that it refers to every free person, a wanderer without a home.
Kazakhstan was a special region of the republic during the Soviet Union, as evidenced by the economic division in Central Asia and Kazakhstan, emphasizing its successful economic development, facilitated by the development of strategically important sites, including Semipalatinsk nuclear weapons testing ground and the Baikonur Cosmodrome, both represented in the republic. After the collapse of the USSR, Kazakhstan succeeded in avoiding border conflicts, ethnic and religious disagreements within the country, and established successful co-operation in several fields with many countries, becoming an influential country in the region and significant actor in the world.
In 1997, the capital of the republic was moved from the south-east of the Republic of Almaty to Akmola in the north of the country, replacing the city with the name "Astana" (Kazakh "capital") .
Kazakhstan is a Central Asian country located in the middle of Eurasia. It has a vast territory of 2 724 900 km², extending from north to south (1,700 km) and from east to west (3,000 km). The western part of the country is the Caspian Sea, which is rich in oil.
The Republic borders Russia on the north and northwest (total border length is 7591 km), China to the east and south-east (1783 km), Kyrgyzstan to the south and south-east (1242 km), and Uzbekistan (2351 km) and Turkmenistan (426 km) to the south. The Kazakhstan territory incorporates three time zones.
Kazakhstan's terrain is uneven. The largest part of the territory (75%) is formed of plains and hills with altitudes between 100m and 300m above sea level. The lowest point is on the Caspian Sea coast, in the western part of the country -  Karigiye (132 m below sea level). In the north of the Republic there is a forest and steppe zone, while in the southern are deserts (including Kyzylkum and Mojynkum). In the south-eastern part of the country, the hilly terrain becomes mountainous areas of the Tianjin Mountain Range, where the highest peak of the state is Khan Tengri (6995 m).
The climate in Kazakhstan is continental with cold winters and hot summers. There are large temperature differences between the regions: in the north, the average temperature in January is -18ºC, and in the south-3ºC, while in July it is + 19ºC in the north and +29ºC in the south. Rainfall also varies: in mountain districts 500-1600 mm, in steppe zones 200-500 mm, and in deserts, 100-200 mm per year.
Kazakhstan's freshwater resources are insufficient for domestic consumption, although several major rivers cross the republic (Syrdarya, Irtysh, Isim, etc.). In the summer, the small rivers dry out almost completely. Kazakhstan has the world's largest saltwater lake - the Caspian Sea, as well as the second largest lake - Balkhash. Between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is the Aral Sea, which has lost 90% of its original area over the past 30 years.

Population

Although Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world, the population is relatively small - 17.6 million people (2015 data). Since 2000, the country has witnessed a positive increase in the natural population, which is associated with the stabilization social and economic factors. About 5 million Kazakh people live outside of Kazakhstan, and 100 000 Kazakhs move to the republic each year under the repatriation program.
The average life expectancy is 69.9 years (64.6 for men, 74.8 for women), birth rate of 20 new-borns per 1000 inhabitants, while mortality is 8.4 deaths per 1000 inhabitants. Kazakhstan has a relatively low level of urbanization - about 60% of the population live in cities.
Kazakhstan is a multinational and ethnologically diverse country. There are about 120 nationalities living in the country, the largest groups are Kazakhs - 63.6%, Russians - 23.3%, Uzbeks - 2.9% and Uyghurs - 1.4%. The Kazakh language is used by 64% of the population, while the Russian language is understood by 95%. The Russian language also has a special status - the language of intercultural communication.
The majority of the population - 65% - are Muslims (Sunnis), but other denominations are also represented - Orthodox, Judaists, Hari Krishna, Buddhists, etc.

Administrative division

Picture:Wikipedia
Territorial administrative division of Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan has 14 districts and 2 republican cities (the capital Astana and Almaty). Additionally, by agreement until 2050, Russia rents Baikonur and this city has the status of a Russian federal city.

Regions

Administrative centre

Territory, km²

The amount of inhabitants, mil

Karagandi

Karagandi

428 000

1,3

East Kazakhstan

Oskemen

283 300

1,4

Almaty

Taldykorgan

223 900

1,9

Zhambyl

Taraz

144 200

1,1

South Kazakhstan

Shymkent

117 300

2,6

Kyzylorda

Kyzylorda

226 000

0,7

Aktobe

Aktobe

300 600

0,8

Kostanay

Kostanay

196 000

0,9

North Kazakhstan

Petropavl

123 200

0,5

Akmola

Kekshetau

146 200

0,7

Pavlodar

Pavlodar

124 800

0,7

West Kazakhstan

Oral

151 300

0,6

Atyrau

Atyrau

118 600

0,5

Mangystau

Aktau

166 000

0,6

Economics

Under the leadership of the first Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, there were developed plans for economic changes, promoting technological development and industrial improvement.
After the collapse of the USSR, the economy of Kazakhstan experienced a general crisis, due to the temporary collapse of stable economic relations with the former Soviet republics. In 1993, the national currency – tenge KZT – was introduced. The economic reform and privatization process implemented in 1995-1997 led to a sharp decrease in the level of inflation and gradual development of the private business sector. During the year 2001, the republic experienced rapid economic growth, however, in 2008 the situation changed. As a result of the global financial crisis, the GDP of the country decreased, but the situation was ameliorated by the internal market, as the population increased. In addition, the industrial development of the Kashagan field had begun and investments increased. However, in February 2014, the devaluation of the KZT took place (an event that also occurred in August 2015).
In 2011 the Customs Union (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia) began to function, the creation of which, according to forecasts, would significantly increase the GDP growth in the member states.
In order to stimulate the inflow of investments to the country, tax privileges were granted to foreign entrepreneurs who would generate more than USD 20 million (EUR 14.9 million) for the republic's economy. These entrepreneurs would be exempt from corporation, income and land tax for 10 years. Large investments in Kazakhstan's industrial development program would also provide the opportunity to use foreign labour without restrictions and permits.
The economy of the country was positively influenced by the restoration of oil production in the Kashagan deposit, the possible stabilization of world oil prices and the recovery of the Russian economy. 
Kazakhstan has five economic districts. In the northern area: grain cultivation, iron ore and coal mining, mechanical engineering, and energy production have been developed; the eastern part is dominated by coloured metallurgy, forestry, and machinery; in the central part, black and nonferrous metallurgy, machinery and cattle breeding predominate; the western part is the largest oil producing region in the republic, while the south is a region of agricultural cultivation where cereals, rice, cotton, fruits and vegetables are grown.
The economic potential of the Republic is comprised of abundant minerals and energy resources, as well as extensive agricultural land – Kazakhstan has 20% of the total amount of cultivated land in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The wealth of the country's natural resources is evidenced by the fact that Kazakhstan has 99 elements from Mendeleev's periodic table. The republic occupies the first place in the world in terms of zinc, tungsten and barite, the second in terms of silver, lead and chromite stocks, and Kazakhstan is the third largest producer of uranium in the world, and also has 3.5% of world coal reserves. In terms of oil supplies, Kazakhstan is ranked 10th in the world, with particularly high oil reserves on the Caspian shelf.
Economic recovery is dependent on the extraction, processing and export of oil and natural gas. The construction of new pipelines and the diversification of supplies will ensure the republic achieves both its economic and political goals. Kazakhstan's oil is transported mainly through Russia via the pipelines of Tengiz-Novorossiysk and Atyrau-Samara, as well as to China via the Atasu-Alashankou pipeline. Kazakhstan has also expressed readiness to export oil to the Western countries along the Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan pipeline.
In the field of natural gas exports, the situation is similar: most of the pipelines are in Russia, but the republic also develops alternative routes. Everything is being done to maximize oil production and by the end of October 2016, the development of the Kashagan deposit had been resumed.
It is projected that, by the year 2030, the oil extraction income in Kazakhstan could increase by 60% - such prospects are determined by existing and planned oil extraction projects, as well as transport infrastructure development plans. In the next 10 years, projects related to the development of Kashagan, Karachaganak and Tengiz will provide 75% of the oil output in the republic (in 2015, their share accounted for 50%).
It is also anticipated that the recovery of uranium could resume after three years, as more and more nuclear power plants are currently being built in the world, while uranium prices fell by more than 60% in 2011 after the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident. There are currently no prerequisites for the increase in uranium prices, but currently more than 400 nuclear reactors in the world require about 78,000 tons of uranium and, in the long term, demand for uranium will increase. Kazakhstan provides 40% of the world's uranium production. There are low-cost fields in the Republic that can be profitable even at current uranium prices.
In 2015, an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency on the establishment of a low-enriched uranium bank in the republic was supported. The bank, in which approximately 90 tons of uranium are stored, is established in the region of Ust-Kamenogorsk in the “Ulbinskiy metallurgicheskiy zavod”, one of the world's largest producers of nuclear fuel for uranium production. Kazakhstan made a proposal for the creation of such a bank in 2009, stating that the republic is a nuclear-weapon-free country and is fully open to the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The uranium stocks stored in the bank are available from 2017 to any country that wants to develop atomic energy that needs uranium for its nuclear power plants. In summer 2017, the Bank for Low Enriched Uranium was opened (its reserves are open to all countries wishing to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes).
It is also planned to build a nuclear power plant (NPP) in the republic, but controversial information and discussions with potential investors raise doubts about the implementation of the project. The construction of a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan would be relevant not only because of the remote perspective of supplying energy in the regions of the Central Asia, where it is a deficit (such a prospect is expected around 2025), but mainly due to the possibility of obtaining the missing nuclear technology in the republic. Although Kazakhstan has the world's 2nd largest uranium reserves and capacity for extraction, the country lacks the latest processing technology.
The negotiations for the construction of an NPP began in 1998, in 2006 a decision was made to prepare a nuclear power plant in the Aktau district (Manghistau province, southwest area of the republic), but the project was not implemented due to lack of financial resources, the availability of the necessary technologies and the failure to reach agreement with foreign partners. In 2011, news about the construction of an NPP arose again and Russia was named as the main partner, but in 2013 Kazakhstan signed a memorandum with Japan, that in turn foresaw cooperation in the construction of NPP near lake Balkhash (Almaty district, south-eastern part of the republic). Despite this memorandum, in 2014, Kazakhstan and Russia developed an agreement on the construction of a nuclear power plant, but the question about its location remained unclear. In October 2015, Kazakhstan started negotiations on the construction of an NPP with the Japanese company Toshiba and its subsidiary Westinghouse, as the competing Russian company “Rosatom” project was in its early stages. Astana announced that the first NPP will begin work in Kurchatov (East Kazakhstan Oblast) or Ulken (Almaty Oblast) in 2030. According to experts, Kazakhstan will continue its simultaneous talks with Russia and Japan in order to maintain competition between these countries, but construction of the NPP is not expected in the near future.
One of the priorities of the state is the development of the electricity sector. In 2010-2014, 13 projects in the field of increasing electricity production were implemented. Projects are also encouraged for renewable and alternative electricity generation. According to the National Development Program, by 2050 the share of renewable energy resources will reach 50%.
Kazakhstan has a developed mechanical engineering sector (mainly for its mining needs), that accounts for 8% of industrial production. In turn, the steel industry supplies 12.5% and nonferrous metallurgy supplies 12% of industrial production.  Kazakhstan has large stockpiles of iron ore (6% in the world) and 70% of its extraction is exported. The country also has 171 gold deposits.
Chemical companies produce plastics, car and agricultural machinery tires, and related products. There are three oil refineries in operation and four other constructions are planned, that will include aviation fuel.
Agriculture is an important economic sector - cereals and export products. The republic exported about 70% of the wheat produced. Cotton, sugar beet, tobacco and rice are also grown. Animal husbandry is also being developed – sheep, horse breeding and cattle breeding.
The geographic location of the country allows the republic to develop transit services. 106 000 km of roads were built in the republic, from which 13 500 km are main railways and 87 400 km are automobile roads. In the spring of 2013, during the meeting of the Foreign Investors Council, N.Nazarbayev presented the project "The New Silk Way" and called to make a republic to be a major transit centre in Central Asia. Also, he pointed out that the country could become a bridge connecting Europe and Asia. It is planned that the Centre of Transport and Logistics (the main element of the "New Silk Road") will be based on the foundation of the company, which is currently under the control of “Kazakhstan temir zjoli” (Kazakhstan Railways). In the west of the Republic, the port of Aktau will be expanded and the logistics centre Aktebe will be built. 

Persons
Photo: Lenta
Nursultan Nazarbayev

The first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev (who was in office from 1991 to 2019), remains the decisive factor in internal policy, not the current president, Kasym Jomart Tokayev. In 2010, the amendments to the law, which granted N.Nazarbayev the status of a leader of the nation ("Jolbasi" - "the leader of the nation"), and provided for additional powers. For example, it is necessary to coordinate with the president the transfer of the most important national equipment and rights of initiation of security to public bodies and officials. The leader of the nation can not be detained, arrested, called to administrative or criminal liability for acts carried out both during the presidency and while having the new status. At the same time, the threat to the life of the leader of the nation is equated with a terrorist crime. Persons damaging the photos of the first president, public blasphemy and misrepresentation of facts of biography are called to criminal liability. Nazarbayev Museum was established in Astana, an art film was made in 2011, and the play "Teren tamirlar" ("The Deep Roots") was created about the president’s life. N.Nazarbayev's sculptures are located not only in Kazakhstan, but also in Turkey.
N.Nazarbayev was born in 1940 and he has been the leader of the country since 1990. In the presidential elections of 1991, he gained 98.7% of voters' support; In 1995 the referendum extended his mandate until 2000; he won 79.78% in the presidential election in 1999, while in 2005 he supported 91.15% of citizens. 
In March 2019, N.Nazarbayev announced his resignation, but his authority and influence in the country's foreign and domestic policy remain. He has kept the office of chairman of the Security Council and chairman of the Nur Otan party for life and is an honorary senator of parliament. The capital of Kazakhstan is named after N.Nazarbayev. At the same time, he is the Honorary President of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Cooperation Council of Turkic languages.

Photo: Lenta
Kassym Jomart Tokayev

K.Tokayev (born 1953) is a graduate of the Moscow Institute of International Relations (Sinologist) and the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry. He has held various diplomatic posts in Singapore and China, served as Minister of Foreign Affairs (1994-1999 and 2003-2007), Prime Minister (1999-2002), Chairman of the Senate, Head of the UN European Section in Geneva. K.Tokayev has participated in the development of all foreign policy programs.
On April 22, 2019, a virtual reception room for Kazakhstan President K.Tokayev began work, aimed at engaging in closer dialogue with the public and resolving urgent social challenges. K.Tokayev also has an account on social network Twitter and an Instagram page.
The presidential elections of June 9, 2019, with more than 70% of the electoral support, were won by K.Tokayev, led by the ruling party Nur Otan and N.Nazarbayev.
Since December 2011, when Dariga Nazarbajeva (the oldest daughter of the president, born in 1963) decided to return to active politics,   the possibility of her becoming the next governor of the country had been mentioned.  Since she is already in her "own" political elite, is related with the strongest political group (Nur Otan party).

Photo: alchetron
President's daughters – (from left) Dariga, Dinara and Aliya Nazarbayev

D.Nazarbayev is also known as a singer (mezzo-soprano), she had given a concert in the Moscow Bolshoy Theatre. Her eldest son, Nurali Aliyev (born 1985), is Deputy Mayor of Astana and financier.

Domestic policy

Kazakhstan's domestic political situation is stable, which is determined by the strong system of administration, united political elite and the lack of the opposition, as well as the absence of strong social and ethnic contradictions. Since 2011 there had been several incidents that have damaged Kazakhstan's image as a stable and terrorist free country (oil employees strikes and terrorist attacks), yet the republic still has one strong ruling party, and the president is a symbol of national unity.
On February 8, 2020, a mass fighting and unrest among local Kazakhs and dungans took place in the Cordaya district (Zhambil area, south of the country, border of Kyrgyzstan), killing 10 people and injuring about 150, causing damage to more than 30 private homes and 40 cars. Commenting on the conflict, K.Tokayev said the massive brawl was for hooligan reasons and provocateurs to use it, but the police normalized the situation.
Following the riots, K.Tokayev dismissed several officials, including Slushash Kurmanbekov, Deputy Mayor of Zhambil, Bolatbek Baitol, Corday District Police Chief, Arman Orazaliev, Zhambil District Chief, and Azamat Isaimbekov, Corday District Police Chief.
The riots took place in villages predominantly inhabited by dungans, an ethnic group that came to these areas from China in the second half of the 19th century.
Dungans are muslims, owning large plots of land for working on which they employ Kazakhs and Kyrgyzs. There are many entrepreneurs amongst dungans – tracks of consumer goods dominated in recent years, but recently it was supplemented by smuggling of fuel. The population of the Zhambil area is increasing in number, and issues of land and water distribution as well as the formation of rich and poor layers of populations are becoming even more pressing. Dungans have a socially active community in Almaty and Taraz. During the unrest in Corday district on February 8, 2020 calls were sent to social networks to travel to the Zarya Vostoka district in Almaty (populated by dungans), but law enforcement responded promptly and increased security measures were introduced in the area.
The unrest and attempts to destabilize the situation were possibly related to the upcoming first anniversary of K.Tokayev’s presidency. The devaluation of his actions and such provocations would show that his proposed liberalization of the political system is impossible. The unrest is a major blow to Kazakhstan also because the country emphasizes the idea of inter-ethnic reconciliation and supresses major ethnic conflicts. At the same time, there is a momentum of "interest" of China, namely that in the event of Uyghurs suffering from unrest, the opportunity arises to bring in Chinese forces to provide protection for the Beijing-initiated "One Lane One Way" project and transit hubs.

Photo: azattyq
Nursultan Nazarbayev

A great attention in republic is focused on strengthening the unity of the nation. In 2010, the government supported the project of the National Unity Doctrine, the main idea of which was to ensure the independence of the republic, to preserve the statehood and to emphasize the significance of the Kazakh nation. The first principle of doctrine ("One country – one destiny") emphasizes the conscious identification of every Kazakhstan citizen with the nation-state, the second (Various origins – Equal opportunities) points out equal opportunities to achieving a better life for each individual regardless of their heritage, religion, or social class. Third ("Development of the national spirit ") considers the great role of the spiritual (cultural) component in shaping an inclusive national identity. This heavily centres on the idea of developing the Kazakh language as the priority for the national unity, with the strict provision of the legal right of all ethnic groups to safeguard and use their own languages.
N.Nazarbayev regularly calls on the Kazakh nation to come together to form an industrially innovative model of economy that will allow the republic to be amongst the most competitive countries and achieve triple GDP, as well as to increase the industrial and agricultural production at least twice. The president stresses that the objective of economic change is to ensure that the economy is based not only on the development of natural resources but also on industrially innovative production.
The government also supports the return of ethnic Kazakhs to their homeland from other countries. Since 1993, the displacement of oralmans (ethnic Kazakhs living abroad) has been regulated by the quota, and since then, approximately 700000 oralmans have arrived in the republic. At the same time, there is a growing number of Uyghurs who arrive in Kazakhstan as oralmans but the Consulate of the Republic of the Autonomous Region of Xijiang Uighurs (SUAR, bordered by Kazakhstan) is supporting to give illegal status of Uighurs. There had been many cases when Chinese oralmans arrived in Kazakhstan, received their citizenship, apartment and material contributions, but a few years later it was discovered that they had illegally gained the oralman status. Their citizenship had to be taken away and they had to be deported back to China.
In April 2013, in order to encourage the unity of inhabitants, the leaders of southern areas called drivers not to add to their state registration number of theri passenger car their belonging to one of the three zhuzs, in order to avoid tribalism and not to destroy the order, peace and harmony in society.
The “Nazarbajev Universitet” (Astana), was founded in 2009, it was the first university in republic based on international standards (the training takes place in English). In order to promote the implementation of modern educational administration and the development of academic independence which is necessary to realize innovative educational programs and scientific projects, an autonomous education organizations "Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools" and "Nazarbayev Fond" have been founded in 2011. Secondary schools with specialization in the exact or human sciences have a severe selection not only for pupils but also for teachers (4-5 candidates per one position).
In cooperation with the National Security Committee, the Ministry of Education started the implementation of the program "A Student Abroad". The main aim of the program is to observe whether all students who have studied in the framework of the state program "Bolashak" ("The Future") are returning back to Kazakhstan. "Bolashak" is a scholarship from the President of Kazakhstan, founded in 1993. The main aim of this program is to improve education in Kazakhstan and to provide Kazakh students with an opportunity to study abroad (it covers tuition and living expenses). After receiving the diploma, the participants of the program must return and work for five years in Kazakhstan.
N.Nazarbayev said that by 2025 the change from Cyrillic script to the Latin alphabet must be finished in Kazakhstan. Currently, Russian is widely used in Kazakhstan, and the Kazakh alphabet is based on the Cyrillic alphabet, but over the past few years the possibility of moving to the Latin alphabet has been discussed. In the spring of 2017 N.Nazarbayev's article "Future Reference Point: Modernizing Society's Consciousness" outlined his vision of the necessary changes in order to make Kazakh  people a strong and responsible nation. The article remimded that the national development strategy “Kazahstan-2025” included a section on the Kazakh-language transition to the Latin alphabet. To complete this plan, a corresponding project was developed by the end of 2017. It was anticipated that in 2018 the new alphabet would be assessed and organizational and methodological measures for moving to the Latin alphabet would be carried out within two years. As N.Nazarbayev pointed, the transition to the Latin alphabet is related to the establishment of modern technologies, as well as the peculiarities of scientific and educational processes nowadays.
The discussions about the possible change of the Kazakh alphabet were started in 2004.  N.Nazarbayev mentioned this would confirm the familiarity to the Turkic-speaking countries, primarily Turkey. At the meeting of the Kazakh Assembly of Nations, in 2006, he proposed to consider the issue of the transition to the Latin alphabet, indicating the graphics of Latin language is dominating in communications. In 2009 Kazakh students from the Uighur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang sent a letter to N.Nazarbayev proposing to implement the reform in writing, so that  the Latin alphabet would become unified writing and the language would develop while adapting to modern standards (the Kazakhs use three alphabets – Cyrillic, Latin / Turkish and Arabic script). The letter also emphasized that there are many educated young people in China who would like to use their knowledge in Kazakhstan, but this is delayed by a number of reasons, from which the main is the fear to stay "in the hands of fate" when arriving in Kazakhstan, also due to the "language barrier". Namely, the Kazakhs in China speak Chinese and Kazakh, as well as English, but not the Russian language, which is an official language in Kazakhstan and is used in documentation.
From the experts' point of view, the transition to Latin alphabet in the Kazakh written language will take at least 15 years.
The Kazakh language is being used more and more widely. In the region of Pavlodar (north of the republic) education in the Kazakh language is strengthening. In the northern regions bordered on Russia (the Kazakhstan-Russian border is 6846 kilometres long), traditionally there had been more Russian-speaking residents and schools with Russian as their language of instruction. The results of these schools in the exams have been higher in the period 2004-2013. Although later the difference in the quality of education between the secondary schools with the Russian and Kazakh languages has livelled.  More and more students are choosing to take exams in the Kazakh language. A summary of the results of the joint exam published on the website of the Ministry of Education has revealed that only 30% of students in 2020 passed their examinations in Russian. 3738 pupils graduated from high schools in Pavlodar region, including 1719 schools with Kazakh language, and 1943 – with Russian as the language of instruction.
In recent years, the number of secondary schools with Kazakh as the language of instruction has grown – now they are twice as many as the high schools with the Russian as the language of instruction. A better funding allows schools with Kazakh language to provide an improvement of professional skill training for working teachers and to attract the most qualified teachers. Besides, Kazakhstan has an extensive educational cooperation with Turkey.  Ankara is interested in expanding its role and influence in the region, and the support to educational institutions is a positive direction for achieving this goal.
In 2009, the Internet sites were recognized as media, therefore the owners of such resources have the same responsibility (including criminal liability) for the content of information as for other owners and editors of media and of newspapers. In 2011, changes in the law on Television and Radio came into force, which stipulates to register the foreign and local TV radio channels, as well as to certify the individual satellite aerials, and the requirements for their installation must be determined by the local authorities. Perhaps the purpose of such changes is to block unwanted media and to make the field of information more restricted and controllable.
At the end of 2011, new rules for Internet security were affirmed, which stipulated stricter control over its users, also that Internet operators have to keep information of all subscribers for 2 years and, if necessary, it has to be transferred to law enforcement agencies. The Internet cafe owners must install observation cameras and register user passport data and visited websites as well as computer IP addresses which must be recorded in 2 journals.
At the beginning of 2012, under the authority of the Prime Minister's Office, a central department for communication with media and a job of government official representative were set up to provide journalists with an operational access to information about the official position on various issues and to promote public control over the implementation of state and sectoral programs. At the same time, it is planned to restrict media coverage of news in case of emergency. In 2012, the Information and Communications Agency set up a Computer Emergency Response Service, whose task is to create a "black list" of Internet portals in republic (including pornographic and extremist links), as well as to block their activities.
In August 2017, the Information, Security, Communications and Television Broadcasting Service was placed under the authority of the National Security Committee. Thus, the force structure has a full control over the Internet, mobile communications and TV broadcasts in the country. The change of subordination was an expected decision, which confirms the increase of warranties of the National Security Committee. At the beginning of this year, N.Nazarbayev called for the establishment of the "Kazakhstan’s cyber shield" system, which would ensure the protection of national computers from hacker attacks. N.Nazarbayev also emphasized that the forces should be vigilant as the enemies of the state are international terrorism, hybrid wars and "internal opponents".
Along with the elaboration of legislation for media control, the persecution of independent and opposition media journalists is ongoing. In February 2017, the editor of the opposition newspaper Tribuna/Sayasi Kalam, Zhanbolat Mamay was detained. Due to suspicion of economic crimes – receiving about $ 110000 from entrepreneur Muhtara Ablazova (living in France, considered to be the main opponent of N.Nazarbayev because of public reports of abuses in the republic) convicted in Kazakhstan for 20 years of imprisonment of liberty and confiscation of property for the abduction of the BTA Bank (a total of about six billion USD). In September 2017, Z.Mamay was sentenced to three years imprisonment and confiscation of property as well as a three-year restriction on his movements and a three-year ban on working as a journalist after his release.
In August 2017, the editor of the independent newspaper “Uralskaya Nedelja”, Lukpan Ahmadjarov, was forbidden to leave from Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan, where his participation in the journalists' seminar was planned. Border guards explained that L.Ahmedjarov was accused of using an unscrupulous lexicon in a telephone conversation with a policeman who had requested his immediate arrival for writing of an administrative protocol. Due to this arrival, the newspaper "Uralskaya Gazeta" acknowledged the incident him as the defendant, while L.Ahmedyarov has a witness status. In 2012 L.Ahmedjarov was attacked (he was found eight knife wounds and two injuries from a traumatic weapon). In the same year, he was awarded the "Reporters Without Borders" prize by the Peter McLaren Prize for honest and courageous information on events in country where freedom of expression is not guaranteed or not respected.
In 2008, the National Welfare Fund was established in order to promote the competitiveness and stability of the national economy, as well as to prevent the possible negative impact of global market changes on the country's economic growth. The main objective of the Fund's operations is to manage its ownership shares of national development structures, companies and other legal entities in order to maximize their long-term value and competitiveness in the global market. Priority economic sectors are oil and natural gas, electricity, metallurgy, chemistry and infrastructure.
In July 2012, in the article "Kazakhstan's Social Modernization: 20 Steps to the General Work Society", N.Nazarbayev said that it is necessary to create a general work society that would replace the consumer society, because “the ideology of consumption is disruptive, but the values of civilization all over the world have been created at work, and not in virtual financial institutions, therefore, work is currently the prevailing national factor and it must be in the first place.” Regarding the social modernization, N.Nazarbayev noted that the state must provide conditions for the people to settle into work and to train the staff. But citizens have to work well, besides, the ones who have lost their jobs, should get a new qualification rather than engage in a "grey market". President also expressed confidence that there should be an internal migration: “We must go where the work is – we are a mobile nation!". He also called on the population to take care of their quality of life and become hardworking and thrifty masters.
In November 2017, the State’s Strategic Development Plan for the time period up to 2025, was approved. It was developed in accordance with the indications of the President's message, to implement the country's most important development program "Kazakhstan-2050". The plan envisages the creation of a new model of economic development and an increase in the welfare of the population.
Although Kazakhstan is currently the most economically developed country in the region, its external debt has grown to almost 168 billion USD, which is 27.6% of GDP.
In February 2012, the government started a moratorium on increasing the staff of employees in the central government structure (reductions were made in 2008 and 2010, in total, more than 26000 people lost their positions), but in autumn, the law "On the administrative structure of the state" A "corpus the creation of reserve staff " was adopted. Accordingly, by July 1, 2013, for 550 positions were selected leadership elite representatives. The selection was conducted by the National Staff Policy Commission (consisting of the head of the presidential administration and his deputy, the vice prime minister, parliamentary vice-speakers, representatives of the State Service Agency) and regional staff commissions. Candidates submitted documents about education and work experience, passed exams in state language and legislation knowledge, logical thinking and driving skill tests, and held colloquia at the National Commission on Staff Policy. The public service has two categories of civil servants – political (departmental managers) and administrative (subordinates) officials. The number of political officials was significantly reduced (6.5 times, from 3277 to 538), and their salaries were increased.
Terrorist threats became prominent in May 2011, when a suicide bomber detonated at the National Security Committee building in Aktebe. In the same year there were three similar terrorist acts in Atirau, Taraz and Almaty. In response to this, in autumn 2012, amendments to the anti-terrorism laws were approved, that clarified the procedures for determining the levels of terrorist threats and the use of weapons of Armed Forces, military equipment, and the special procedures for counter-terrorism operations. Anti-terrorism commissions were set up in each republic’s region. The Republic had identified 24 radical Salafi communities with 495 members, but the number of supporters of radical ideas and various religious groups was increasing, while special forces had been killed and wounded in counter-terrorism operations. In spite of the measures taken, terrorist acts were carried out in various regions of the republic, including 2016, in Aktebe and Almaty.
From May 2011 in Zhanaozen (Mangystau region, the country's west), several hundred oil companies, OzenMunaiGaz and KarachaganakMunai, were struggling to raise wages and improve working conditions. Several workers had been dismissed during the strike, Natalia Sokolova (a leader of the strikes) was arrested, other activists were charged with administrative liability and also arrested. Also, the daughter of one of the strikers and another suicide bomber were killed. The strike generated a lot of publicity: in early July 2011, singer Sting cancelled a concert in Astana in solidarity with the strikers. However, there was no change to working conditions and riots continued until December, when strikers battled with police and 16 persons were killed. The city declared a state of emergency by the end of January 2012. Internal troops deployments were introduced in July as protest actions were resumed, and participants called for the suspension of mass redundancies in “Munai Field Service” and the release of the protesters detained in December 2011.
In 2012, more than $ 135 million were allocated for the development of 27 mono cities, i.e. cities, the development of which was directly dependent on the city's only company. The corresponding national program also included Zhanaozen, where it was planned to develop new projects in addition to extraction of oil, including a large greenhouse construction project. It was planned to create an internationally certified oilfield in Aktau, that would allow specialists to be trained to prepare them for the new technologies that would be needed in the development projects of the Kashagan deposit. Projects were being developed for the economic development of the region and for the improvement of the welfare of the population, paying particular attention to the areas of oil and natural gas, ecology, agriculture and land improvement.
Despite the development of programs, the situation of the oil industry staff had not changed, and on January 30, 2016, the protests of employees of the oil company Burgilau (OzenMunaiGaz subsidiary) started in Zhanaozen, in which approximately a hundred people participated, demanding wage increases, return of unpaid salaries for overtime worked in 2014-2016 and the accession of Burgilau to the Unified Payroll System (that was already used in other OzenMunaiGaz subsidiaries). This was already the third action of the Burgilau employees in the last three months. In the summer of the week-long campaign, they expressed dissatisfaction with the reduction of working hours and wages, while they were expected to maintain previous levels of development.
The strikes were also held by other employees – at the end of November 2017, a corporation strike Kazahmis in the Karaghand region of Kazahstan was reported. A few dozen workers demanded improvement of working conditions, wage increases and compensation costs.
 

Foreign policy

In 1994, Kazakhstan announced its multi-directional foreign policy – a policy that emphasised mutually beneficial cooperation with several countries. Considering the country's vast natural resources and geographical location, stable development, as well as active position and involvement in solving important global issues, the republic had become an influential player not only in the region, but also in the world. This was facilitated by the participation of Kazakhstan in international and regional organizations, incl. OSCE (in 2010), Islamic Cooperation Organization, CIS, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Collective Security Treaty Organization, Eurasian Economic Union, etc. In 2018, Kazakhstan was the country chair of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
Kazakhstan has positive relations with all its neighbours - regular visits are taking place and cooperation is developing, but closer cooperation has been established with Russia and China.
With Russia, Astana cooperates in a number of areas - economics, military politics, and trade. In 2012, N.Nazarbayev proposed to improve the agreement on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance with Russia, concluded in 1992, stating that new integration processes were taking place, incl. Establishment of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space. The talks between leaders of both countries take place several times a year and both countries have a common position on almost all issues of international politics. In 2012, the Kazakhstan-Russia joint air defence system project was prepared. Kazakhstan purchases military equipment (ships, airplanes, helicopters, etc.) from Russia, and also cooperates in areas related to the implementation of scientific research and experimental designers' activities in the development of new armaments and military equipment, as well as areas related to the modernization and repair of existing machinery.
Since 1994, Kazakhstan has leased Russia a Baikonur complex (a cosmodrome and a city with 76,000 inhabitants) for $ 115 million per year. The contract will end in 2050. The Cosmodrome7 has a launch equipment for the Proton-M rocket (with a load capacity of over 20 tons), Zenit-3M (load capacity 12 tons), three modifications Soyu" (load capacity 7,5 tons), as well as assembling facility, fuel service units, two aerodromes and various communication facilities. Every year more than 20 missile launchers are deployed from the Baikonur Space Missile. Since 2004, talks with Kazakhstan on Russia's improvements to the space launch have taken place, but no agreement is legally established, although Moscow emphasizes that it has already spent more than $ 1 billion on repairs and maintenance of complex installations and infrastructure. There are over 2000 installations in the Baikonur that Russia does not use, but there is no mechanism to exclude them from the list of objects in the lease, therefore Russia still maintains and protects them.
Kazakhstan's national-oriented policy promotes the departure of Russian-speaking people – in 2016, about 33,000 people left the country and most (71.6%) were Russian-speakers. According to Kazakhstan Statistics Committee, in 2016, 16,4% more people left the country than in 2015. Most move to life in Russia: in 2015, Russian citizenship was gained by 32,000 Kazakhs, while in 2016 the number was 38,000 Kazakhs. According to specialists, the Russian program for the reception of compatriots and the plans of Astana for the transfer of the Kazakh language to the Latin alphabet contribute to the Russian-speakers departure.
In the summer of 2016, participating in the World Summit (meeting), N.Nazarbayev highlighted six projects that were implemented in the context of spiritual modernization – the transfer of the Kazakh language to the Latin alphabet, the translation of the 100 best humanitarian study books, the project Tugan zher ("Native land"), Kazakh Sacred Geography, Modern Kazakh Culture in a Global World and Kazakhstan's 100 New Faces. He emphasized that he has set up the Otandastar Foundation ("Compatriots"), which, in cooperation with the World Association of Kazakhs, will develop measures for the support of compatriots, while the embassies of the republic will expand consultations of compatriots on the preparation of documents necessary for the transfer from abroad to Kazakhstan. N.Nazarbayev said that support for young people should be ensured by doubling the study quota to compatriots from abroad, as well as evaluating the issue of organizing training of compatriots in the Kazakh language abroad. The President called for activation of new measures to ensure the broadcasting of national TV channels and the distribution of printed publications in neighbouring countries, the recruitment of qualified compatriots to work and adapt when in Kazakhstan, as well as to create quality living conditions and provide work for the people of the Republic moving from the southern and northern districts according to the national program.
China's presence in Kazakhstan's oil and natural gas production is important because Beijing imports about 55,2% of its oil supply, and this figure will increase to 65% over the next few years. China's largest investment in Kazakhstan is in the fields of extraction, processing and transportation of oil and natural gas, as well as uranium mining. Kazakhstan also has a large number of small and medium-sized trade and manufacturing companies grouped around Chinese banks (they provide various loans).
Countries are expanding their cooperation sectors – agreements have already been signed on extending energy, trade and security cooperation. The volume of trade between the countries is increasing (in 2015 it was 40 billion USD).
China acquires Kazakhstan-based companies that develop reserves with relatively small deposits (comparatively with deposits developed by European and US companies). The share of Chinese investment in these companies is between 20 and 100%.
In Kazakhstan, there are also Chinese service companies that specialize in drilling and engineering networks. There are many other Chinese companies involved in oil and its products in the republic. The Chinese company Semizbai-U (Chinese ownership 49%), which develops 2 uranium deposits, is planning to increase its uranium mining output and plans to increase its uranium output to 680 tons per year in the next 6 years. Investments in the Kazakh financial sector are provided by two Chinese banks specializing in Chinese customer service and may not have the intention of engaging in the Kazakh banking market.
In 2018 the work of the border cooperation centre "Horgos" – a modern city (about 200 000 inhabitants) with developed infrastructure, administrative buildings and shopping centres – started. There are be two parts to the “Cooperation centre” of 528 ha – Chinese side (343 ha in the Autonomous Region of Uyghur, Autonomous Region of Xinjiang) and Kazakhstan side (185 ha in Almaty) – that are connected by the transport and pedestrian bridge. The centrepiece of the programme is related to the free movement of Kazakhs, Chinese, and citizens of other countries. People are allowed to stay in the Cooperation centre for 30 days without a visa – to take part in working negotiations, to conclude contracts, to get acquainted with both countries, as well as industrial production related to the CIS. The centre has a trade and exhibition area, where all stages of the negotiations (from the preparation of information and selection of goods to the conclusion of a contract) take place; a regional cooperation area where bank branches, business offices and representative offices and conference halls are located; transport and freight terminal area, where customers are offered a wide range of services (product development, processing, storage and handling), that includes two terminals with a special temperature regime, six temporary storage terminals, four terminals for processing and assembly of loads, and laboratory products standard and quality testing.
There is an unofficial competition for leadership in the region between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Both countries have joined a number of international organizations, but Uzbekistan is not an active participant, because it sees danger to their sovereignty in them, while Kazakhstan sees participation as an opportunity to fulfil its ambitions. For example, despite being a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Uzbekistan until now did not participate in military training, and also banned the transit of military technology from Kazakhstan through its territory to Tajikistan. Kazakhstan is the fifth largest trading partner of Uzbekistan, and in Uzbekistan there are more than 150 companies working in Kazakhstan (with investment capital located in Kazakhstan), but it is more difficult for Kazakhstan’s entrepreneurs to enter the Uzbekistan market than its Russian or Chinese counterparts, as it was in a position to hinder the entry of Kazakhstan's capital into the republic (Kazakh business is aggressive, ambitious and rich, and in the long run it can gain control over the most important areas of Uzbekistan's economy). In the field of economics, Kazakhstan is still the strongest country in the region, as evidenced by the influx of guest workers from Uzbekistan, as well as Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
In September 2017, N.Nazarbayev visited Tashkent on an official visit to discuss with Uzbekistan colleague Shavkat Mirziyoyev the possibility of expanding cooperation in the fields of politics, economics, trade, investment, transport and communications, as well as discussing topical issues of regional and international politics. The Presidents signed 10 cooperation documents.
It is expected that the issues concerning the Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan border sections will be clarified soon in order to complete its demarcation in the near future.
Belarus has repeatedly expressed its desire to develop closer cooperation with Kazakhstan in the form of joint ventures and the mastering of new technologies, however, the turnover of Belarus among the countries is the lowest within the member states of the Customs Union (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia).
In 2013, Kazakhstan provided military aid to Tajikistan free of charge, supplying miners, water reservoirs and sanitary strechers. In addition, the border guards of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan regularly carry out joint special operations Dostik ("Friendship") aimed at reducing cross-border crime.
Within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, Kazakhstan cooperates with Kyrgyzstan, aiming to modernize and expand the infrastructure of Kyrgyzstan’s customs area, to improve the veterinary, phytosanitary and quarantine services in accordance with international standards, and to provide financial assistance to train specialists in related fields (100 million USD). The co-operation protocols were signed in spring 2017, however afterwards doubts arose that assistance would be provided as a "backlash" emerged in response to the relations between the states, due to Kyrgyzstan's president Almazbek Atambayev's statement that in 2010 Kyrgyzstan's blockade was being sustained by Kazakhstan for a month and a half causing people to die. In response to this statement, the Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry handed a note, but N.Nazarbayev recalled that in 2010 a coup was taking place in Kyrgyzstan, the situation in the country was fragile and criminals were released from prisons, therefore the neighbouring Kyrgyzstan's countries – Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan – had closed their borders. He also stressed that Kazakhstan will continue to provide assistance to Kyrgyzstan, and good relations with the neighbouring countries to Astana were very important. At the beginning of November 2017, Kyrgyzstan decided to support Kazakhstan by providing 100 million USD to Bishkek. The sharp statements of A.Atambaev continued – during the last months of his presidency (his mandate expired on November 24, 2017), he announced that Bishkek should consider the possibility of constructing a road to China bypassing Kazakhstan (in the north of the there is a small section located in the territory of Kazakhstan). In turn, during a working visit to St Petersburg in mid-2017, he called on the Russian leader Vladimir Putin to engage in the resolution of disagreements between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan if „the existence of the Eurasian Economic Union is still necessary”.
In turn, Speaker of the Parliament of Kazakhstan Nurlan Nigmatulin, commenting on the statements of A.Atambayev, said that they were irresponsible and would not be allowed to damage relations between the two countries. N.Nigmatulin also pointed out that A.Atambaev did not achieve any results during his presidency either in economics or in politics, and had shown that he had no political and internal culture. The new president of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov managed to "smooth out" the disagreements in Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan relations, and now cooperation between the two countries is developing successfully.
Turkey appreciates the efforts made by N.Nazarbayev to implement a multi-directional foreign policy, his initiatives for the promotion of regional co-operation and the Turkic language countries. A testament to his high profile is the monument opened in Istanbul in June 2010 to N.Nazarbayev. 

Photo:dreamstime
Monument of N.Nazarbayev in Istanbul

In 2010, the Turkic Academy was opened in Astana on the initiative of N.Nazarbayev. He also proposed the creation of a Turkic Language Co-operation Council, which includes the President and Foreign Minister, as well as experts, aksakals (the senior community elders) and a secretariat council (headquarters of the Council's headquarters in Istanbul). Astana also hosts annual meetings of Heads of Special Services of Turkic-speaking countries, where Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkish delegations discuss practical cooperation issues.
Kazakhstan has more than 160 companies with Turkish capital registered.
Kazakhstan cooperates with NATO in providing transit cargo to and from Afghanistan as well as participating in joint peacekeeping exercises, including “Steppe Eagle”.
The Republic has developed extensive cooperation with France in the field of space. Several French companies specializing in uranium mining, energy and space are working in the Kazakhstani marketplace. French investments in Kazakhstan's economy exceed 13 billion USD. Astana wants to attract French investors to the republic's innovation sector, and now France has access to areas where Russian companies were formerly employed. Astana has established a joint venture between the Kazakh and French helicopters companies.
Kazakhstan is the only country with a grain terminal in Ventspils port - through its transhipment of grain to world markets. More than 60 joint ventures with the capital in Latvia are registered in Kazakhstan, mainly trading and financial consulting companies.
The country has developed a program for expanding Islamic finance structures in the country. In 2008, a joint fund of 1 billion USD was created in cooperation with the United Arab Emirates to promote investment in energy and finance. In 2009, the republic adopted a law on expanding the use of the Islamist financing system, while the first Islamic bank Al Hilal was opened in the republic in 2010 and the second, the Islamic Bank of Malaysia's company AmanahRaya,  in 2012. At the moment, apart from these banks, the Islamic investment fund, Takaful (insurance) company, as well as consular and brokerage companies working on the basis of sharia, operate in Kazakhstan. In 2012, Kazakhstan issued sukuk of 500 million USD (securities similar to bonds in Islamic countries).
Islamic Development Bank (headquarters in Saudi Arabia) invested 1.2 billion USD in agriculture, transport and infrastructure in Kazakhstan from 2012 until 2015, as well as in the development of Islamic finance principles.
The level of cooperation with Israel decreased in 2009 when Boris Sheikman, who represented Israeli defence companies and was an intermediary in talks with Kazakhstan, was arrested for fraud. However, the cooperation was subsequently restored and is now open and extensive.
According to unofficial information, in March 2013, N. Nazarbayev visited Israel, but the visit was carried out secretly, and perhaps the purpose of the visit was some treatments.
Japan shares nuclear science with Kazakhstan and the joint venture “Summit Atom Rare Earth Company” is set up in the republic.  Although the problems are caused by supplying uranium to Japan through Russia (StPetersburg), Canada or France. Currently, a project for the supply of uranium from Kazakhstan through Russia to the Far East to Japan is being developed.