Kazakhstan president declares moratorium on amendments to Land Code

ASTANA (TCA) — The President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev has declared a moratorium on controversial amendments to the country’s Land Code, the presidential press service reported.

At the government meeting on May 5, Nazarbayev postponed until 2017 the implementation of a controversial law on the privatization of state-owned agricultural land in Kazakhstan.

The law was originally scheduled to be implemented starting from July 1.

Nazarbayev said that more time was needed for discussions of the Land Code by the parliament and the people of Kazakhstan before the plan is implemented.

Nazarbayev also announced the formation of a government commission to oversee land reforms.

Nazarbayev’s decision follows nearly two weeks of protests against the land privatization plans in several cities and towns across Kazakhstan.

Hundreds of Kazakhs in several cities since April 24 have rallied against the privatization plan amid rumors that foreigners would be allowed to purchase land in Kazakhstan.

The government says foreigners will only be allowed to lease agricultural land, and authorities have warned that it is a crime to spread “false information about land privatization”.

On April 26, President Nazarbayev vowed to “punish provocateurs” who are disrupting social order by spreading disinformation about pending land sales.

He has defended the plan, insisting that foreigners will only be allowed to rent agricultural land under 10- to 25-year leases.

Kazakhstan’s Deputy Minister of National Economy Kairbek Uskenbayev said last week on the national television that foreigners currently have 65,000 hectares of land on lease in Kazakhstan out of the total 272.5 million hectares available in the country.

Sergey Kwan