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Kazakhstan

Yearbook 2015

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 early 2000s.

2015 Kazakhstan

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.

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