9 июня 2023
Paolo Sorbello, photo from Akorda.kz

The Week in Kazakhstan: Not Today

State-owned companies delay IPOs, human rights activists publish a report about Qandy Qantar

The Week in Kazakhstan: Not Today

On June 5, the Human Rights Alliance for Fundamental Rights released a report titled “Shoot to Kill”, focusing on the January events of 2022. The authors showed evidence of gross violations of citizens’ rights and freedoms. The report also details socio-demographic portraits of the victims.

A court in Almaty sentenced on June 7 seven law enforcement officials for having tortured to death Zhasulan Anafiyayev, who was at the time suspected of having participated in the January 2022 urban protests known as Qandy Qantar.

The Expert Independent Research Institute, a local NGO, created a website and a chatbot for victims of torture in correctional facilities. The website gives access to free legal and psychological assistance.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev attended the yearly meeting of the Foreign Investors Council in Astana on June 8. At the plenary session, Tokayev emphasized the progress made in the sphere of digitalization and the opportunities this sector creates for Kazakhstan and foreign companies.

The Astana International Forum took place on Thursday and Friday in the capital, hosting a range of foreign leaders, who discussed topics ranging from climate change to energy security. On the sidelines of the forum, minister of economy Alibek Kuantyrov told Vlast that its organization cost the state budget more than 1 billion tenge ($2.3 million).

During the Astana Finance Days, a conference organized by the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC), airline Air Astana and Qazaqgaz updated potential investors on their plans for listing their shares. Air Astana said it plans an IPO in 2024, while Qazaqgaz said the plan moved to 2025. Both companies have repeatedly pushed forward their plans to go public.

Kazmunaigas, the state-owned oil and gas company, said on June 9 that it plans to float a 12% stake in the local stock exchanges. In December, Kazmunaigas listed a 3% stake in the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange (KASE) and AIFC.

Laid-off workers in Zhanaozen, an oil town in the west of the country, said on June 8 that their demands had not been satisfied and that they plan to visit the capital once again in protest. In April, dozens of workers spent one night outside the ministry of energy in protest against the termination of their contract and were detained en masse the following day.

Kazakhstan’s minister of energy Almasadam Satkaliyev said on June 5 that Kazakhstan will ready its infrastructure to allow Russian gas shipments to Uzbekistan next year. Last winter, gas shortages caused blackouts and heating issues in Uzbekistan and the government agreed with Russia’s Gazprom that it will buy gas transiting via Kazakhstan.

A delegation from the US Chamber of Commerce’s US-Kazakhstan Business Council traveled to Kazakhstan on June 6 to attend high-level meetings and business forums. Their goal was to ensure that the sanctions regime that Western countries established against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine does not provoke “unintended consequences” that would hinder US investment in Kazakhstan. Kuantyrov said on June 7 that Kazakhstan will not become a territory through which sanctions can be circumvented.

On June 2-3, the President of the European Council Charles Michel traveled to Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan to meet the leaders and representatives of all Central Asian countries for a European Union - Central Asia summit, where he laid out plans for cooperation in the spheres of trade, critical raw materials, transport, green energy, and security.

Tamara Duisenova, minister of labor and social protection, was named deputy prime minister on June 8, replacing Altai Kulginov. Duisenova will retain her ministerial post. Kulginov, who was formerly the mayor of Astana, had been appointed deputy prime minister six months ago.

On June 7, politician Nurzhan Altayev was arrested. The following day the Anti-Corruption Agency said he is accused of having taken bribes during his tenure as deputy minister of labor and member of parliament. At the time of last year’s presidential elections, Altayev had thrown his hat in the ring, but was barred from running.

Journalist Duman Mukhametkarim was summoned as a witness regarding a financing scheme benefiting an extremist movement. On May 28, Mukhametkarim was arrested for 25 days for planning an unsanctioned rally. Advocates say Mukhametkarim is facing pressure from the authorities, as this is the third time he has been put in detention since the beginning of the year.