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7 октября 2022
Paolo Sorbello, photo by Zhanara Karimova.

The Week in Kazakhstan: Elections and Diplomacy Keep Tokayev Busy

All major parties support Tokayev, who is engaged in a diplomatic spree.

The Week in Kazakhstan: Elections and Diplomacy Keep Tokayev Busy

Incumbent Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced his candidacy to Kazakhstan’s presidential election on November 20, with the backing of the three parties represented in parliament. The ruling Amanat party, Ak Zhol, and the People’s Party assembled in a ‘forum’ on October 6 to show their support alongside a newly-formed civic organization that will directly assist Tokayev’s campaign.

Alongside Tokayev, at least three other presidential candidates will organize their electoral campaign. Auyl party’s Zhiguli Dairabayev, Yntymaq’s Meiram Kazhyken - who is also supported by the trade union organization ‘Amanat’, not related to the party of the same name -, and National Social Democratic Party’s Nurlan Auesbayev all formally submitted their candidacy to the Central Election Commission.

On October 7, coincidentally Vladimir Putin’s 70th birthday, Tokayev flew to St. Petersburg to attend an informal session of the meeting of heads of states of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The nine former-Soviet member states will convene on October 14 in Astana for the formal meeting of their heads of state. Between these two dates, Tokayev will also host Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Astana. On October 15, Turkmenistan’s President Serdar Berdymukhamedov will also visit the capital in an official visit.

Tokayev’s diplomatic efforts, however, stopped short of a watershed decision, as advocated by Human Rights Watch: at this week’s UN Human Rights Council meeting, Kazakhstan voted against any further debate around the High Commissioner’s report on abuses in China’s Xinjiang region against Uyghurs and other Turkic communities. This marks the second time in the Council’s history that a motion to hold a debate is rejected. Out of 47 members, 19 voted against the motion, while only 17 voted in favor.

Marat Shaikhutdinov, who served as deputy secretary of the Security Council between 2009 and last March, was sentenced to seven years in prison for disclosure of state secrets, espionage, and treason. A specialized court found him guilty alongside two other defendants, said the press service of the KNB, the country’s security service.

Kazmunaigas, the national oil and gas company, surprisingly said it would announce an IPO by December 10. The statement came from Yernar Zhanadil, the head of the department for development and privatization at Samruk-Kazyna, the sovereign wealth fund that owns Kazmunaigas. Speaking to the press, Zhanadil said “We understand that there is very little time left, but Kazmunaigas has been preparing for an IPO for a long time.” Until last week’s oil and gas conference, KIOGE, the deadline for Kazmunaigas’ IPO was still uncertain, as experts spoke of a waiting time of months or years.

The number of Russian men crossing into Kazakhstan has dwindled in recent days, although official statistics say that more than 200,000 have entered the country since Putin announced a “partial mobilization” for the war against Ukraine. Kazakhstan’s ministry of internal affairs said on October 4 that around 150,000 Russians had left Kazakhstan since September 21, in an effort to show the temporary nature of this migration wave. Bagdat Mussin, the minister for digitalization, said that over the same period around 70,000 Russians obtained a Kazakhstani tax ID.