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1 сентября 2023
Paolo Sorbello, photo from Akorda.kz

The Week in Kazakhstan: Return to Sender

President Tokayev speaks to the nation, the European Commission investigates possible sanctions circumventions.

The Week in Kazakhstan: Return to Sender

Kazakhstan’s ministry of trade said on August 29 it will cooperate with European regulators in their probe regarding the possible circumvention of anti-dumping duties and sanctions concerning plywood imports from Turkey and Kazakhstan, probably originating from Russia. In late August, the European Commission had launched an investigation based on a request lodged by Woodstock Consortium, an birch plywood industry lobby group.

On September 1, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev opened a new session of the parliament by addressing the nation about the government’s upcoming plans. He said Kazakhstan’s economy will remain open to foreign investment, while domestic producers will be “protected”. During his speech, Tokayev instructed that the assets that the government has recovered from illicit activities should be sold off, on transparent and favorable terms for the state.

Tokayev also said the government will hold a national referendum about the construction of a nuclear power plant and roll out the practice of electing directly the local heads of government, starting from the mayors of large cities. [You can read more on Tokayev’s speech in this week’s newsletter by signing up here]

After the speech, Tokayev signed a decree on the reorganization of the presidential administration and a number of government structures, and fired several high-level officials. Ruslan Zheldibai, Yerzhan Kazykhan, and Yerzhan Zhienbayev, who lost their positions in the presidential administration, were appointed as Tokayev’s aides.

Domestic coal prices have increased on average by 15% this year, the ministry of industry said on August 28. As the country prepares for the upcoming winter season, higher costs for coal could have a negative impact on household well-being in areas that are not attached to the country’s gas network.

In the first six months since the mechanism of the law on personal bankruptcy was established, more than 10,000 Kazakhstanis have filed for the out-of-court bankruptcy procedure, prime minister Alikhan Smailov said on August 31, during a meeting of the ruling Amanat party. Personal bankruptcy will allow citizens to default on their debts, while retaining vital assets.

A prosecutor in Bishkek filed on August 22 a motion to shut down Kloop Media, one of the few independent news outlets in Kyrgyzstan. In their lawsuit, the prosecutor aimed directly at the media’s journalism by highlighting how “most of [Kloop’s] publications are purely negative, aimed to discredit representatives of government and municipal bodies”.