Kazakhstan. According to
COUNTRYAAH, the previously shrinking Aral Sea showed
continued signs of recovery. In the northern part of the
lake, which belongs to Kazakhstan, the water level and fish
stock increased, and fishing was slowly on its way back. The
water was twelve meters higher than the low level in the
In the beginning of the year, southern Kazakhstan was hit
by ethnic conflict between Kazakhs and Tajiks following
allegations of murder. Kravall police were dispatched to
stop riots with burnt cars and stone throwing. Security
police were also in place, and the Internet was shut down.
Following the Russian Federation's "protection" for the
Russian minority in Crimea in Ukraine, the Kazakh regime was
sensitive to conflicts that could affect the Russian
minority in Kazakhstan, one fifth of the population.
In addition, the economy was in decline due to falling
oil prices. Oil workers were laid off, and the central bank
was forced to step in and support state energy giant
KazMunayGaz. During the latter part of the year, the fixed
exchange rate was released, and the currency tenge lost a
third of its value against the dollar.
From New Year, Kazakhstan was part of the Euro-Asian
Economic Union (EEU) led by the Russian Federation, to which
Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan also joined. The more or
less enforced Union soon led to trade conflict with the
Russian Federation. The Kazakh market was flooded by Russian
import products, while Kazakhstan's exports to the Russian
Federation declined sharply due to deteriorating economy in
the federation. Stores all over Kazakhstan put up signs in
the blue and yellow colors of the flag with the admonition:
"Be a patriot - buy Kazakh!" President Nursultan Nazarbayev
led the campaign "Made in Kazakhstan". Russian meat and
other products were removed from Kazakh shops, formally for
quality reasons. The Russian Federation responded by judging
Kazakh dairy products.
Presidential elections were announced until April.
President Nazarbayev has ruled the country for a quarter of
a century, since independence from the Soviet Union, and he
is exempt from the restriction on the number of presidential
periods. The earlier election was seen as an attempt by
Nazarbayev to dissatisfaction with the economy. The election
was also seen in light of the threat from the Russian
Federation. Nazarbayev claimed that Kazakhstan's national
security was at stake. The Russian occupation of Crimea and
the war in Ukraine had sent shock waves to Kazakhstan with
its significant Russian minority. In some areas along the
700-mile border with the Russian Federation, Russians are in
the majority. Nationalists in the Russian Federation believe
that parts of northern Kazakhstan are actually Russian
territory and should belong to the federation.
Nazarbayev won in the presidential election with close to
98% of the vote, according to official data. The candidate
of the regime-friendly Communist Party got 1.6%, and a
member of Nazarbayev's ruling party got 0.7%.
Although the result was frayed, many of the country's
approximately 140 minorities were believed to support
Nazarbayev. He was seen as a unifying force against ethnic
nationalism and a guarantee of the security of minorities.
But according to the OSCE election observers, the election
offered no real political alternatives and freedom of
expression was considerably limited. The regime and its
party dominate politics and there is no credible opposition,
according to the OSCE. Prominent opposition leaders have
been neutralized or imprisoned.
Nazarbayev apologized for the Soviet-like votes but
claimed he could do nothing, as it would be "undemocratic"
if he joined the electoral process. Nazarbayev seemed to
want to create a family dynasty.
During the year, he appointed his daughter as Deputy
Prime Minister, a step up in her career from her previous
post as Deputy Speaker of Parliament. During the year, it
became clear why residents of the village of Kalachi in
northern Kazakhstan have lost consciousness in recent years
and sometimes have been fading for days. Investigations have
shown that they are poisoned by carbon monoxide, which
emerged from an abandoned uranium mine near the village. The
hundreds of residents must therefore move.