15 декабря 2023
Paolo Sorbello, photo by Daniyar Mussirov

The Week in Kazakhstan: A Cold Outbreak

Low temperatures put a strain on the country’s heating infrastructure, the number of cases of measles infection skyrocket

The Week in Kazakhstan: A Cold Outbreak

Accidents, stoppages, and technical difficulties at power stations across Kazakhstan have left hundreds of thousands of residents without continuous access to heating and electricity, after a cold snap hit the country in the past week. Accidents at the power stations in Kentau, Ridder and Ekibastuz, gas pipeline networks in Aktau, Stepnogorsk, Kostanai, and Zhambyl. The freezing of the Ural River also caused disruptions in the supply of water to the city of Atyrau.

Companies will have to declare the value of their assets and properties ahead of filing their annual income statements, the State Revenue Committee said on December 13. The measure lies within the framework of the country’s universal income declaration program, which will also include regular citizens starting in 2025. Despite promises of transparency, state officials have yet to make their income declarations public.

Alibek Kuantyrov, minister of economy, said on December 12 that he will push to end the “inspection freeze” on small-sized entrepreneurs. Starting on 1 January 2024, a new risk management protocol will regulate business inspections.

Police and special forces surrounded hundreds of oil workers in Mangistau on December 15, during their fifth day of strike. The workers are employed by West Oil Software, a logistics contractor for two oil fields operated by Mangistaumunaigaz, part-owned by Kazmunaigas, the national oil and gas company. The workers demand that their salaries be reviewed and increased at the same level as Kazmunaigas workers. The company sued the workers and a regional court said the ongoing strike was illegal on December 12. Now striking workers are being fired (at least 25 already received a notification from the company) and could be brought to court for damages.

A plan to increase fuel prices was shelved by the ministry of energy on December 12, according to a draft decree. A sharp increase in the price for liquefied petroleum gas in January 2022 triggered widespread protests across the country that were violently suppressed. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev later ordered that prices should remain stable at prior levels.

Kazakhstan was listed among the top three countries in the world for measles cases between May and October, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. The total number is likely higher than what officially reported, anecdotal evidence suggests. One of the main reasons for the spreading infection is a lag in vaccination. In Astana, 94% of the children that were infected had not been vaccinated.

Media outlets were targeted by hacker attacks in the past week. Independent outlet ProTenge had their instagram page blocked after a number of attacks on December 8. Online outlet Kursiv.Media reported of a DDoS attack on their website on December 11.