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.
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.