Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan and China signed an agreement on border defenses at the beginning of the year which was said to contribute to the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism. According to Countryaah website, national day of Kazakhstan is every December 16. A series of terrorist acts have been carried out in the autonomous Chinese region of Xinjiang, bordering on Kazakhstan. Kazaker lives on both sides of the border. Imangali Tasmagambetov was appointed new Prime Minister of Kazakhstan in January.
At the beginning of the year, the authorities allowed a large-scale, critical-critical meeting, from which state television rarely reported. The United Democratic Party, with the slogan “Kazakhstan without Nazarbayev” was formed by the Republican People’s Party and a few other opposition groups. One of the founders of the new party was President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s perhaps strongest political opponent, the exile politician and former head of government Akezjan Kazjageldin.
The regime’s attitude towards the opposition hardened during the year. A leading politician, Galimzjan Zhakijanov, was placed under house arrest after temporarily taking refuge in the French embassy in Alma-Ata. Kazakhstan’s foreign ministers complained that EU diplomats were visiting Zhakijanov and were urged not to intervene in Kazakhstan’s internal affairs.
During the summer, a new law was introduced that made it more difficult to form political parties. Two opposition leaders, former governor Galimzhan Zhaykijanov and former energy minister Muchtar Abljazov, were charged with corruption and abuse of power in their previous positions and were sentenced to seven and six years in prison respectively. Critics characterized the judgments as politically motivated.
Kazakhstan’s oil-based macroeconomics went brilliantly. By the middle of the year, growth seemed to be closer to 10%, the year before it had reached 13.2%. Foreign investment poured into the large oil field of Tengiz. The new Kashagan field was considered to be the largest oil discovery in the world in three decades.
Most of the wealth was concentrated with the ruling elite, especially President Nzarbayev’s own family. During the year, the Prime Minister surprisingly stated that more than a billion dollars in 1996 had been transferred to foreign accounts in the president’s name. Government officials tried to explain that the money had been put away for coming difficult times.
In October, journalist Nuri Muftach, who had examined the deal, was run over and killed in a parking lot. Another inconvenient journalist, Sergei Duvanov, was harassed, beaten and cut. When he was to travel to the United States and talk about the media situation in Kazakhstan, he was arrested for rape on a 14-year-old girl. According to Duvanov, the charge was false.