Books on Kazakstan
Update No: 333 - (26/09/08)
Kazakhstan is the centre of Central Asia
If there is one country that really matters to Russia in the FSU it is
Kazakhstan. It is vast in itself and has vast resources, for instance 60% of the
FSU's mineral reserves.
But Kazakhstan has a particular significance. It is the most promising country
of the entire FSU, likely to be a super-power in no time at all.
People get an entirely wrong take on Kazakhstan who just look at it on an atlas.
Tucked away beneath Siberia it looks a small under-belly of the same. It is in
fact the size of Western Europe and Scandinavia combined.
It has a small population, it is true, 16m. But who is going to deny that this
may turn out, in a grossly overpopulated world, to be anything but a massive
The Astana-Moscow axis
Of course Russia is the country that matters most to it. There are seven million
Russians in the population, who, nevertheless, are as keen as the Kazakhs to
remain independent of Russia. Why not keep the jam for a total population of
barely 15 million, instead of over 150 million?
“Kazakhstan and Russia can shift to a new stage of innovation of development
of bilateral relations between the two countries,” the President of
Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, said at the 5th forum of heads of the border
regions of Russia and Kazakhstan on 22 September, which was broadcast in the
direct ether of Vesti television.
According to him, trade turnover between two countries grew four times in the
last twelve months, presumably in value terms due to the jump in oil prices
(rather corrected of late). “An increase in trade turnover occurs due to
global crises. While other countries suffer difficulties from the economic
crises, the economies of our states are stable,” said Nazarbayev.
IMF qualifies growth forecast downwards
Nevertheless, the International Monetary Fund cut its 2008 and 2009 economic
growth forecasts for Kazakhstan on September 26, but said the medium-term
prospects for Central Asia's biggest economy were still good.
A global credit crisis has squeezed Kazakhstan's financial system since last
year, causing economic activity to slow and forcing the government to introduce
a $6 billion buyout fund to prop up the sector.
Tim Callen, head of the IMF mission to Kazakhstan, told Reuters in an interview
the IMF had cut its growth forecast for Kazakhstan for 2008 to 4.5 percent from
5.0 percent, and to 5.3 percent from 6.0 percent for 2009.
'What's likely to happen is that the recovery previously expected in the middle
of next year will be pushed towards the end of the year,' he said. 'All in all,
we anticipate certainly not an easy year coming up but medium term prospects are
still fundamentally very sound.'
The government of the oil-rich nation has slashed its 2008 forecast to 5.3
percent this year after years of averaging 10 percent growth due to booming
But, with oil accounting for 60 percent of all exports, high global prices are
seen offsetting the impact of volatility on Kazakhstan's highly leveraged
Bizarre Austrian-Kazakh developments
The regime in Astana is of course repressive along the usual Central Asian
lines. Its elite are doing the obvious thing, enriching themselves like crazy.
Austrian authorities said they are investigating whether a foreign government
has tried to kidnap Kazakhstan's former chief of intelligence, now a critic of
the Kazakh government living in exile in Vienna. Prosecutors said a group of
armed men attempted to abduct Alnur Mussayev and his female interpreter on a
Vienna street in mid-September. A spokesman for the Austrian federal
prosecutor's office said they are trying to determine whether a "foreign
power" was attempting forcibly to extradite Mr. Mussayev.
Mr. Mussayev fled Kazakhstan last year along with his onetime deputy, Rakhat
Aliyev, who is also the former son-in-law of Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev.
Both Mr. Mussayev and Mr. Aliyev have publicly accused the Kazakh government of
widespread corruption and of the receipt of payment of millions of dollars in
bribes by Western oil companies to Mr. Nazarbayev. Mr. Aliyev aired many of his
assertions of corruption in a story in The Wall Street Journal in July.
Since fleeing their country, both Mr. Mussayev and Mr. Aliyev have been
convicted of crimes in absentia by the government in Kazakhstan.
The spokesman for the Austrian prosecutors said they have identified a suspect
in an earlier attempt to abduct Mr. Mussayev, on July 17. He declined to name
the man, but when asked whether he was from Kazakhstan, the spokesman said,
"He's from the region. " No one has been charged. The government of
Kazakhstan, through its embassy in Washington, didn't respond to questions about
Kazakhstan's foreign minister is slated to visit the U.S. soon for meetings with
Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
In an official statement to police at the time of the July attack, Mr. Mussayev
said several Russian-speaking men attempted to force him into a car on a Vienna
street. In a telephone interview, Mr. Mussayev said that in the recent attempt,
four men carrying pistols attacked him and his interpreter, Lidia Eickmeyer. He
said he struggled with the men before passers-by began to scream and the men
fled. Ms. Eickmeyer, in a telephone interview, gave a similar account, and said
she was knocked unconscious and treated for trauma after the attack.
The tensions between the Kazakh government and the high-profile dissidents have
complicated efforts by the U.S. to cultivate good relations with Mr. Nazarbayev.
Kazakhstan is important because of its strategic location between Russia and
China and its mineral riches, which include uranium, copper and iron ore as well