Kazakhstan. According to Countryaah.com, Kazakhstan Independence Day is December 16. Regime-critical journalist Sergei Duvanov was sentenced in January to three and a half years in prison for raping a young girl. Duvanov denied the crime, claiming the verdict was political. President Nursultan Nazarbayev declared before the verdict that Duvanov was guilty and should not be released.
In February, the Minister of Energy announced that Kazakhstan plans to build a new nuclear power plant in collaboration with Russia. Environmental organizations oppose the plan, stressing that the country must clean up large quantities of nuclear waste from the Soviet era.
Prime Minister Imangali Tasmagambetov resigned in June following a conflict with Parliament over a bill on land privatization. Critics argued that the proposal would benefit wealthy citizens. New head of government was Danial Akhmetov, who is considered a supporter of President Nazarbayev.
According to the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW), the human rights situation is very bad in Kazakhstan. HRW, in a report during the year, called on the EU to exert pressure on the regime in order to improve the situation. HRW pointed out that police treat drug addicts and prostitutes so brutally that they dare not seek medical help, which aggravates the spread of HIV in the country.
Researchers reported in the fall that the glaciers in northern Kazakhstan are melting so fast that millions of people’s living conditions could be affected. In a quarter of a century, glaciers have lost more than 1% of their volume each year. Large agricultural areas in several countries depend on water from the glacier rivers, and researchers fear that climate change can have serious consequences for the region.
Democracy Movement Kazakhstan’s democratic elections at the end of the year decided to transform themselves into a political party demanding the replacement of the presidential board with parliamentary democracy.
Kazakhstan has Central Asia’s largest economy, based on oil and gas production. It grew by 5% in 2013.
In February 2014, Nazarbayev suggested that the country change its name to Kazakh Yeli. Nazarbayev argued that he wanted to distance himself from the other -stan countries in Central Asia. Acc. to him these countries got less investment because of their -stan names. He was referring to Mongolia receiving major foreign investment. However, he would leave the resolution to a referendum.
In May 2014, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed an agreement on the establishment of a Euro-Asian Economic Union of DKK 170 million. residents of the 3 countries. The Union entered into force on 1 January 2015.
In October 2014, the UN Human Rights Council conducted the periodic review of the human rights situation in Kazakhstan. The situation has worsened in a number of areas in relation to the previous inspection in 2010: Freedom of speech is suppressed through the draconian application of laws prohibiting «calls for social disharmony»; Freedom of assembly is suppressed; Arrested activists and labor leaders do not get a trial that meets international standards; There are no proper investigations into reports of abuse and torture by security forces.
In November 2014, the UN Committee Against Torture expressed concern about the “abyss between legislation and protection against torture” in Kazakhstan. The Committee noted that in terms of the use of torture and other abuse for the purpose of forcing confessions, there were no “isolated incidents” and that in less than 2% of the reports of torture these led to trial. During the UN Human Rights Council’s 2nd examination of the situation in Kazakhstan in October 2014, the Council recommended that Kazakhstan set up an independent investigation mechanism. In both 2013 and 14, there were 350-400 reports of torture annually. The regime continued its censorship of the Internet and the media. In February 2014, a court closed the newspaper Pravdivaya Gazeta and in April the newspaper Assandi Times. In October, the EU and Kazakhstan signed an agreement on closer partnership and cooperation.