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30 декабря 2022
Paolo Sorbello, photo by Zhanara Karimova

The Week in Kazakhstan: Close to Completion

Nazarbayev almost lost some privileges, former elites were almost sentenced

The Week in Kazakhstan: Close to Completion

The presidential press service said on December 30 that Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed into law a range of constitutional amendments, part of a package of constitutional reforms.

Tokayev visited St. Petersburg on December 26 to attend an informal meeting of heads of state of CIS countries. The nine-member-strong organization aims to improve intra-regional trade.

Former President Nursultan Nazarbayev could lose some of his privileges as the “Leader of the Nation” should a law especially formulated to protect him and his family from any prosecution be struck out in January. Parliament members had announced their intention to complete the procedure of scrapping the law by the end of the month, but now postponed the decision for the next joint session in January.

On December 30, Kanat Mussin, former Justice Minister about whom we wrote in this column, became a new judge of the Constitutional Court. Judges are appointed separately by the president and each chamber of the parliament. One day earlier, ombudsman and former vice-minister of justice Elvira Azimova was elected president of the Court. The Court will oversee the constitutional reform process kick-started with the June referendum. For the first time in almost three decades, citizens will also be able to bring an appeal to the Court.

By December 24, 66 candidates to the snap elections of half of the Senate members scheduled for January 14 were officially registered. Regional election commissions rejected the candidacies of 64 others, who failed to meet the requirements. The composition of the new Senate is poised to change in accordance with the June 2022 constitutional referendum.

On December 30, Tokayev put the final signature on a new law On Personal Bankruptcy, which now came into force. Personal bankruptcy will allow citizens to default on their debts, while retaining vital assets.

Parliament member Kanat Nurov lodged a public complaint against Jusan Bank, alleging a potential embezzlement of $1.3 billion in state funds. After acquiring TsesnaBank in 2019 and ATF Bank in 2020, Jusan Bank became the sixth-largest bank in Kazakhstan and its ownership traces back to a charitable foundation linked to Nazarbayev. Before changing ownership, TsesnaBank was bailed out with state funds. ATF Bank had also benefited from a state bail-out.

A pre-trial investigation into a case against Nurlan Massimov and some of his former colleagues at the police apparatus of the northern Pavlodar region. Massimov is the cousin of Karim Massimov, former head of the Security Service and now in prison for high treason in connection with the January Events. The Pavlodar anticorruption agency accused Nurlan of extorting bribes of 90.3 million tenge (around $180,000) and of stealing technical weapons worth 420 million tenge (around $1 million).

The Agency for Financial Monitoring said an investigation in a court case against Kairat Boranbayev, a prominent businessman in prison since March, reached its conclusion. QazaqGas, the state-owned company that awarded contracts to Boranbayev’s AziyaGazChundzha, was compensated for the budget damage. On December 30, a court in Astana decided that Boranbayev will remain in prison until the end of the trial.