Kazakhstan. In February, Kazakhstan announced that it would allow the United States to ship non-military goods via Kazakhstan territory to Afghanistan. The decision came after Kyrgyzstan announced the closure of the only US air base in Central Asia. At the same time, Kazakhstan participated in military maneuvers along with the Russian Federation, China, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan during the year. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for abbreviation GOK which stands for the nation of Kazakhstan.
According to countryaah, the international financial crisis hit hard in Kazakhstan, where banks were over-financed during the country’s oil boom. Long-term growth of almost 10 percent annually changed in crisis, as most SMEs were threatened with bankruptcy. Growing unemployment, cold winter and devaluation of the currency tenge pushed the poor population. In March, something as unusual as a public protest was held in the country’s largest city Alma-Ata, where a few hundred protesters demanded the departure of Prime Minister Karim Masimov.
During the summer, a number of senior government officials were accused of corruption. But critics questioned the motives behind the official campaign against the bribery culture, saying it was a way for the regime to draw the public’s attention from the deep economic problems and a pretext to clear unwanted people from the ruling elite.
In October, the country was visited by France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, who signed comprehensive energy cooperation and trade agreements. Sarkozy said he discussed human rights with President Nursultan Nazarbayev but explained that he did not come to give any lessons. Despite criticism from Kazakhstan’s suppression of human rights, the country was designated to take over the presidency of the OSCE, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2010.
During the year, the government was criticized for turning down independent media and adopting a new law restricting freedom of expression on the Internet. The ruling party also made proposals to make Nazarbayev a lifetime president. In October, the appeal was rejected by the country’s most prominent human rights activist Yevgeny Zhivti, who was sentenced to four years in prison accused of murder. Domestic and foreign critics, including the OSCE and the United States, argued that Zhovtis did not receive a fair trial.
During the year, Sohan Dosova from the village of Aul in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan was presented as the world’s oldest person with an age of 130 years. According to her Soviet passport from the early 1980s, Sohan Dosova was born on March 27, 1879. She could still walk herself, with a cane, and explained that her secret was to mix butter in the tea. But some of her grandchildren are among the many thousands of Kazakhstani who became ill after the Soviet nuclear weapons tests in Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan is still a largely rural country, but less than a quarter of its active population works in agriculture and livestock. In the North, in the ‘virgin lands’ cultivated at the time of Khrushchev, cereals are grown over large areas and with massive and systematic use of mechanical means (K. is a good producer of wheat and the largest Asian producer of barley), sugar beet, potatoes and tobacco. In the southern areas, favored by the waters of the Syr Darya – an ‘exogenous’ river that flows down from the very high Kyrgyz and Tajik mountains – cotton cultivation is practiced, again on a large scale (the massive irrigation that this crop requires removes water from Lake d’ Aral, which has been contracting rapidly in recent years and is even threatened with total drying up). There is no shortage of vegetable gardens and orchards along the foothills, near the border with Kyrgyzstan. Livestock farming, although in slight decline in recent years due to the slow decline of nomadism in the central steppes of the country, remains very important, especially sheep farming which can range over pastures covering two thirds of the country’s surface (K. is the fifth world producer of wool, and also obtains the well-known astrakhan furs from karakul sheep).
The subsoil is very rich in minerals, both energetic and metallic. The coalfields of Karaganda and Ekibastuz, in eastern Kazakhstan (whose production makes the country one of the ten ‘greats’ of world coal), is flanked by the oil fields of the Emba valley and the Caspian peninsula of Mangyšlak, in Kazakhstan western, and those of natural gas of Karačaganak. European and American companies are taking an active interest in these hydrocarbon fields, which signed with the government of Kazakhstan in November 1998two important contracts on their exploitation, and which have significant future developments planned, including the construction of new oil and gas pipelines (Western investments made in the 1990s in Kazakhstan were by far the most conspicuous in the whole of the CIS); in June and September two similar contracts were signed between Kazakhstan and China, also concerning the construction of a new oil pipeline up to the border between the two countries. Moreover, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Iran are also focusing their attention on similar prospects.
Uranium is also present, in abundant proportions (5 ÷ 6 % of world production in the mid-1990s). In the central-southern part of the country, on the other hand, there are metallic minerals (copper, lead, zinc and bauxite), processed locally with a high expenditure of energy, not all produced with the great local resources, due to a complicated system of exchange agreements. which the CIS inherited from the USSR. To add iron ores, mined in the open in Kustanaj (Qostanaj) in the north of the country, and chromium.
The substantial agricultural and mining productions of Kazakhstan feed (within the framework of a system that is still largely nationalized and planned, but is slowly evolving after a privatization program started in 1994 – 95) various connected industries, fairly well distributed on the territory: factories the former are food and textiles, the latter are iron and steel, various metallurgies, mechanics and chemicals.