• KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00226 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09264 0.54%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00226 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09264 0.54%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00226 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09264 0.54%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00226 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09264 0.54%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00226 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09264 0.54%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00226 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09264 0.54%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00226 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09264 0.54%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00226 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09264 0.54%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

Viewing results 1 - 6 of 18

Kuandyk Bishimbayev Given 24 Years in Prison — But Kazakhs Ask How Long He Will Really Serve

On May 13, Kazakhstan’s former Minister of National Economy Kuandyk Bishimbayev was sentenced to 24 years in prison for the torture and murder of his common-law wife Saltanat Nukenova in November 2023. While the length of the sentence is a victory for advocates against gender-based violence, both within Kazakhstan and in the many parts of Europe where the trial was also followed closely, many Kazakhs feel that it is still too early to say that justice has been done. In an open discussion that is rare in Central Asia, many citizens are posting their concerns on social media that the Nazarbayev-era official will find a way to get out of prison early: there is already speculation that Bishimbayev, a former member of the country’s elite, will leverage his political connections to secure an early release – or be recognized as terminally ill. Attempting to quell these fears, state prosecutor Aizhan Aimaganova has said that under Kazakhstani law, Bishimbayev will be able to apply for parole only after serving 16 years, two-thirds of his sentence – and only then with the consent of Saltanat Nukenova’s family, guided by her brother, Aitbek Amangeldy. Saltanat Nukenova's murder has shown that civil society is very much alive in President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s Kazakhstan. As previously reported, shortly after her death in November last year, a public movement called Zhana Adamdar organized an authorized rally in Almaty to raise awareness about violence against women and children. Yesterday, on the day of the sentencing, supporters of another Kazakh feminist movement, Feminita, protested in Almaty, Kazakhstan's biggest city. The group is demanding life imprisonment for Saltanat Nukenova’s murderer. "We do not agree with this sentence; [Bishimbayev] should sit in prison for life. He will come out sooner anyway – we urge you never to be silent: if you have the desire and will for it, resist," Vlast.kz quoted Feminita co-founder Zhanar Sekerbaeva as saying. The spokesperson for the Astana court where Bishimbayev was sentenced, Alma Yesymova, has commented that he has received the maximum possible sentence for the crimes he was found guilty of: murder and torture. "The punishment was imposed for committing a particularly grave crime – murder. The sanction for this is a maximum of 20 years of imprisonment. And by partial addition of terms [Bishimbayev] was given four more years for torture. Under the law the very maximum sentence is 25 years, while he was given 24 years," Yesymova said at a press conference after the trial. The trial itself drew criticism from Kazakhstan’s legal professionals. Lawyers and human rights activists are unsatisfied with how both the prosecution and the defense were conducted. Following Nukenova's death, President Tokayev signed a Decree in December 2023 to improve human rights and the rule of law, including by promoting gender equality, combating any form of domestic violence and enhancing the performance of the criminal justice system (which, among other things, involved increasing penalties for perpetrators of domestic violence). The human rights components of the President’s reform agenda was...

Kazakh News Publisher Says New Media Law Does Little for National Press

Kazakhstan's new law "On Mass Media," recently passed by its lower house of parliament (the Majilis), has agitated the country's reporters. In an interview with The Times of Central Asia, Dzhanibek Suleyev, the publisher of several news sites, remonstrates that the law should have been more supportive of the national press. An aspect of the law that has caused heated discussions is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' new right to deny accreditation to foreign journalists "in case of a threat to the national security of the Republic of Kazakhstan." A few months ago the Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn't renew or refused to issue accreditation to 36 correspondents of the news website Azattyq, the Kazakh affiliate of the U.S. Government's Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). No explanation was given for this rejection, and Azattyq has filed a lawsuit in court. Suleyev explained: "It is clear that the state wants to protect itself and society as much as possible from extremist publications and the spread of deviant morality, but what is proposed for those who simply do their work honestly, every day? We like to impose restrictions, but what about support? I think that if the state were to expand the field of cooperation, the press would be less critical." "Apparently, the state authorities have such an ambiguous opinion of Azattyq. In addition, the lack of accreditation clearly does not prevent 'going on the air,' the audience has access to the materials. I do not think that denial of accreditation to foreign media will become a mass phenomenon. The New York Times or leading sports publications and channels will hardly be denied accreditation. You have to understand that from the point of view of the state, there are ordinary media, and there are structures engaged in propaganda and counter-propaganda, and this should be taken into account," Suleyev explained. Suleyev said that the establishment of a one-year statute of limitations for media materials is a positive development, as it protects journalists' rights. It was initially proposed to set the term at three years from the date of publication. "It is good that it was reduced to a year, three years of limitation is the death of the publication. Of course, I would have liked to reduce the statute of limitations even further, but thanks for that. If journalists are always afraid of the court, how can they work? Because of the long statute of limitations, editorial offices need to keep archives, video, audio and documents, not everyone can do this. Besides, with a long statute of limitations, it is easier to settle scores with the press, to get unwanted people closed down," he said. Suleyev was happy to see more television programs in Kazakh. The new law aims to increase the amount of Kazakh-language and domestic content on television and radio. From 2025 at least 55% of TV and radio programs should be broadcast in Kazakh, rising to 60% from 2027. Retransmission of foreign TV and radio channels will be reduced to 10% from...

No Lessons Being Learned From Kazakh Floods, Says Political Analyst

Kazakhstan has been prone to flooding before, but the 2024 Kazakh floods have added a catastrophic page to the chronicles. Political analyst Marat Shibutov tells The Times of Central Asia that only extremely tough measures can motivate ministers and akims (local government executive) to actually work on flood prevention.   The Floods Have Not Yet Peaked Areas and homes in many regions of Kazakhstan -- Atyrau, West Kazakhstan, Aktobe, Akmola, Kostanay, East Kazakhstan, North Kazakhstan and Pavlodar -- remain flooded. According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations, more than 113,000 people have been evacuated from the various disaster zones. The threat of another destructive wave of surface water still remains for major cities, even high-rise buildings are battling high in water in Atyrau, Petropavlovsk and Kostanay. Kazakh president Kasym-Jomart Tokayev has already visited the affected regions several times. According to local reports, people are now concerned not with punishing those responsible, but with paying fair compensation for lost housing, farms and livestock, and, most importantly, with creating an effective flood control system. In particular, residents of dacha (detached suburban) houses in Uralsk blocked the highway, demanding that the akim of the city include them in the list of those to be paid. If more floods occur it will be impossible to live in flood-prone areas. The only alternative is a radical revision of the requirements for residential zoning protective measures. Tokayev spoke about the responsibility for breached and unfinished dams and dikes, as well as the overlooked forecasts made by meteorologists about increased snowmelt and the threat of flooding not only from rivers, but also from the steppes in late March. For the lack of timely flood control measures, he announced a harsh reprimand to First Deputy Prime Minister Roman Sklyar and Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Nurzhan Nurzhigitov. Local administrators weren't spared either, with harsh reprimands and warnings for incomplete official compliance to the akims of Aktobe, Kostanay and West Kazakhstan regions -- and a harsh reprimand to the akims of Atyrau, Akmola, Almaty, Pavlodar and Abay regions. According to official data from the Ministry of Emergency Situations, in 2024 to date seven billion tenge ($15.5 million) have been allocated just to local executive bodies for flood mitigation activities. In March 2024, 66 billion tenge ($147 million) was allocated to carry out work relating to combating emergency situations. From 2019 to 2023, the Emergency Situations Ministry's expenditures increased almost fourfold, to 264 billion tenge ($588 million). Over the past five years, over 762 billion tenge ($1.7 billion) has been allocated from the national budget. What exactly those funds were towards remains an open question -- possibly as part of ongoing criminal cases.   Disasters of the Past It's not the first time that high water has caused irreparable damage in Kazakhstan. In Uralsk they still talk about a serious flood in 1942. In early May, the water level in the Urals reached 943 centimeters, and a 9-point storm raged on the river. Over 500 families were evacuated from...

Letting Women Lead: Bridging the Finance Gap for Women-Led Businesses

Opinion by Hela Cheikhrouhou, IFC Regional Vice President, Middle East, Central Asia, Türkiye, Afghanistan, and Pakistan I get to meet many courageous women in my work for IFC in Southwest and Central Asia. [1] I’ve witnessed the seemingly insurmountable challenges they encounter every day. I’ve seen the unyielding resolve of rural women in Tattha, Pakistan in the face of climate change-induced severe floods, and the stunting of their children due to a lack of potable water. I’ve heard the heartening stories of female leaders shattering the glass ceiling in Kuwait. I’ve had passionate discussions with women entrepreneurs who are struggling to secure financing in a region where very few formal enterprises are majority owned by women. In Kazakhstan, that proportion is just 23.8 percent. In Jordan, it’s 8.1, in Lebanon, 4.7. Closing the economic gender gap is even more urgent due to the region’s poor performance in the World Bank's Women, Business and Law 2023 score: Nearly half its countries ranked lowest on the index. Their struggles remain largely invisible to the world. But, with entrenched economic challenges and escalating fragility and conflict, we can no longer afford to avert our eyes from the issues faced by half of the global population. The numbers reveal a disturbing gender disparity. In 2022, female labor force participation in the Middle East, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Türkiye (MCT) stood at 26 percent of women at working age, compared to 75 percent for men. This isn’t just a matter of equity—failing to bridge economic gender gaps in these countries casts a dark shadow on the region's annual GDP. The valiant voices I've encountered have shone a light on the key challenges preventing women from thriving in, or even entering the work force: the lack of flexible working arrangements, robust measures to combat harassment, safe transportation, affordable childcare, and better access to a quality education. Showcasing female role models would also help inspire girls and young women to pursue a career. In the entrepreneurial landscape, the uneven playing field makes survival and growth an uphill battle for women-led businesses. The dearth of funding directed towards women entrepreneurs is another key obstacle—a mere 7 percent of private equity and venture capital in emerging markets is invested in women-founded startups. Many factors contribute to women’s limited access to startup capital. One reason is this staggering statistic: only about 15% of all VC 'cheque-writers' are women. This glaring absence of a female perspective in the venture capital space invites unconscious biases. A lack of collateral, due to limitations on women’s access to asset ownership, further exacerbates women entrepreneurs' lack of access to funding. But the challenges go far beyond finance. Social and cultural norms act as significant barriers to women's entrepreneurship. For example, cultural expectations see childcare responsibilities placed mainly on women—preventing them from excelling in the entrepreneurship space. Yet hidden behind these challenges are outsized opportunities. The potential benefits of financing women-led businesses are substantial for both banks and investors. Research consistently shows that a gender-balanced portfolio...

Religion in the Cities of Kazakhstan – Opinion by Gulmira Ileuova

The research discussed in this article was conducted in July-August 2023 by the Strategy Center for Sociological and Political Studies Public Foundation in collaboration with the office of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Central Asia. A total of 1,604 people were surveyed in six cities. Since the goal of the project was to study atheism and atheistic views, the choice of where to conduct the survey was made based on the latest census data, according to which the following regions/cities had the highest proportions of nonbelievers: Kostanay Region (4.84%), Mangystau Region (4.38%), Almaty (4.32%) and Shymkent (3.65%), versus an average across the whole country of 2.25%. Table 1. Religion of the population of Kazakhstan (%; census data)   Muslim Orthodox Refused to answer Nonbeliever Kazakhstan overall 69.31 17.04 11.01 2.25 In cities 64.45 20.45 11.84 2.81   Of course, the term “nonbeliever” is not necessarily equivalent to the concept of “atheist,” but nevertheless we decided to start with these statistics with the goal of understanding the religious identities of city residents in the given areas and identifying the reasons contributing to the increased share of nonbelievers, including atheists. This study was conducted in cities at three administrative-territorial levels: so-called “cities of republic significance” (Almaty and Shymkent); regional capitals (Kostanay and Aktau); small towns (Rudny and Zhanaozen). The survey in these six cities showed that 72% considered themselves Muslim, 10% Orthodox and 4% atheist (Rudny 5.6%, Almaty 4.7%, Zhanaozen 4.5%, Kostanay 3.0%), while about 1% named other denominations (“protestant movements,” “Baptists,” “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” “New Life”). Twelve percent refused to answer the question, while 1% could not answer. Analyzing the responses to this question by age, we see that there are more atheists in the youngest age group of 18-24 years old at almost 5%, while in this same cohort, as well as in the 31-49 age group there is a higher proportion of Muslims (77% each, versus 65% in the 50+ group). A higher share of people over 50 are Orthodox Christians, while in this oldest group more people also refused to the question (17%). Thus, 87% of city dwellers who took part in the survey reported that they were followers of one religion or another. However, if we use the Dawkins spectrum (of theistic probability) – which we slightly modified for the purposes of this study – we see that among those surveyed only 77% were believers. Overall, only 48% were strong theists, absolutely convinced that God exists. Another 29% were uncertain that God exists but still assume so. Twenty percent classified themselves as agnostics – lacking a clear position on whether God exists or not – while 3% are atheists, strong or uncertain.   Table 2. Which statement best reflects your position? (% of total respondents) Statement Share, % Decided theist (I am convinced that God exists) 47.9 Uncertain theist (I do not know for sure that God exists, but the probability is high, so I believe that he does) 29.4 Agnostic (I do not know whether God exists...

Nurturing Global Partnerships – Opinion by the Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Sayasat Nurbek

Kazakhstan, a sprawling and culturally diverse nation nestled in Central Asia, has strategically embraced a multi-vector policy across its foreign relations, economic strategies, and governance. At the heart of this strategy lies Kazakhstan's multi-vector policy in education, a forward-thinking initiative that underscores the nation's commitment to diversification, international collaboration, and educational modernization. International partnerships form a cornerstone of Kazakhstan's educational framework, enriching its academic landscape and fostering innovation. The country has established strategic alliances with prestigious universities, research institutions, and governmental bodies worldwide. Through collaborative endeavors such as joint research ventures, student and faculty exchanges, the implementation of international educational programs, and the establishment of branches of foreign universities within Kazakhstan, the nation endeavors to harness global expertise and best practices to elevate the caliber of its education system.   Multi-Vector Policy in Education Over the past year alone, Kazakhstan has witnessed the opening of eight foreign branches, bringing the total to twelve. The first foreign university established its branch is British De Montfort University. This university opened its doors for its students in 2021, offering educational programs for more than 500 students in such fields as finance, design and business. This branch attracted 16 million US dollars from foreign investors. Noteworthy among these initiatives is Kazakhstan's adoption of a strategic partnership model, which has yielded tangible outcomes. Kozybayev University's collaboration with the University of Arizona in 2022 is a prime example. With 589 students enrolled across ten specialties – spanning pedagogical, biotechnological, and IT domains – this partnership, supported by 1200 full scholarships from the government, signifies a concerted effort to enhance educational opportunities and foster interdisciplinary learning. Similarly, the formation of a consortium in 2022 with renowned German universities, operating under the auspices of the Caspian Engineering and Technology University named after Sh. Yesenov, underscores Kazakhstan's commitment to excellence in engineering education and technological innovation. Offering a diverse array of programs encompassing engineering fields, data management, artificial intelligence, and beyond, this consortium exemplifies Kazakhstan's proactive approach to equipping its citizens with cutting-edge skills and expertise. Established in 2023 at Zhubanov university, the Heriot Watt University branch offers an array of programs in vital fields such as petroleum engineering, electrical power engineering, and computer engineering, boasting an impressive enrollment of 286 students from 13 Kazakhstan regions. The Luban Workshop initiative at Serikbayev University exemplifies Kazakhstan's commitment to advancing its automotive education and training capabilities. This initiative, supported by foreign partners, aims to establish state-of-the-art laboratories specializing in automotive transport. These facilities will serve as a platform for incorporating modern Chinese technological advancements into the curriculum, thereby enhancing the quality of education for future automotive specialists. The project also seeks to foster academic and research collaborations with esteemed Chinese educational institutions, paving the way for the development of dual-degree programs, joint research projects, and other collaborative efforts that will enrich the automotive sector's expertise and innovation. The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) has sparked discussions about its potential impact on the workforce and society at large. In response to this...

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