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Yearbook 2017

Kazakhstan. The corruption in the power elite continued to reap political sacrifices. In January, the government's third finance minister was appointed in less than a year. A corruption legacy being investigated reached both the Ministry of the Economy and the President's administration.

2017 Kazakhstan

A constitutional reform was drafted to reduce the presidential power so that the next head of state must share the power of parliament and the judiciary. Parliament subsequently approved the proposed amendments.

According to, Kazakhstan hosted talks between warring parties in Syria in January. The Russian Federation supporting the Syrian regime and Turkey supporting opposition groups participated, as did the UN special envoy for Syria.

A well-known journalist, Bigeldy Gabdulin, was sentenced to five years of conditional detention on charges of extortion against politicians by publishing or threatening to publish material that damaged their rumors.

In February, the editor of the independent newspaper Sayasi Qalam was arrested for money laundering. The magazine is known for its critical articles on the regime. According to the lawyer, the arrested Zhanbolat Mamai had been beaten in prison by other prisoners. Later, he was sentenced to a form of conditional release, which was unique to trials where journalists or political activists were prosecuted on political grounds.

A new law against extremism and terrorism required that all cell phones be registered in a state database. The unregistered would be blocked.

According to Amnesty International, Kazakhstan uses increasingly aggressive methods to silence dissenting voices on the Internet and social media. New legislation makes it possible to shut down or hinder access to specific web pages. The regime also uses the courts to access people who exercise their right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, according to Amnesty.

In February, Deputy Prime Minister Imangali Tasmagambetov left his post and was appointed ambassador to Moscow. Assessors saw it as a way for President Nursultan Nazarbayev to remove a possible successor to the presidential post.

The president withdrew his proposal in March from the year before everyone in Kazakhstan could own land. The proposal had triggered widespread protests against the sale to foreigners.

In May, a member of Jehovah's Witnesses was sentenced to five years in prison for hate crimes. He was charged with revoking religious and ethnic hatred.

Two union leaders were sentenced to two and two and a half years in prison, for example, for embezzlement, disobedience to authorities and instigating illegal strikes. Hundreds of oil workers had gone on a hunger strike in protest of the closure of a trade union. Amnesty condemned what was called the destruction of the independent trade union movement in Kazakhstan.

The fugitive businessman and dissident Muchtar Abljazov was sentenced in June in his absence to 20 years in prison accused of organizing a criminal league, for abuse of power and embezzlement. He was previously Minister of Energy and Trade in Kazakhstan and claims that the prosecution is political.

In June, Kazakhstan and China signed economic agreements worth nearly SEK 65 billion in trade and cooperation on energy, mining, industry, agriculture and infrastructure.

In July, President Nazarbayev signed a law requiring at least five years of experience in official records for registration as presidential candidate. The constitution already requires that a presidential candidate must speak Kazakh fluently, be born in the country, have lived there for at least 15 years and be at least 40 years old.

The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inaugurated its first nuclear fuel stockpile in Kazakhstan in August. The low-enriched uranium should be available globally to the nuclear power industry so that no new nations will need to enrich nuclear fuel and increase the risk of uranium dissipation.

Former opposition leader Olesya Khalabuzar was sentenced in August to two years of conditional detention accused of ethnic hatred.

President Nazarbayev declared during the year that an alphabet with Latin letters should be prepared for the Kazakh language. From 2025, all official documents, as well as publications and books, will be published in Latin letters, according to Nazarbayev. The Kazakh language has been written in Cyrillic letters for close to 80 years, since the beginning of the Soviet era.

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