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29 марта 2024
Paolo Sorbello, photo from the ministry of emergency situations

The Week in Kazakhstan: Floods

Snowmelt caused massive floods in the western and northern regions, oil transit revenues to grow

The Week in Kazakhstan: Floods

Massive snowmelt floods hit the western and northern regions of Aktobe, Kostanai, Akmola, Abai, and West Kazakhstan since March 25. Thousands of people have been evacuated from areas where rivers flooded and sewage became compromised. The ministry of emergency situations is still at work in several provinces to restore the infrastructure.

On March 26, residents of the Akmola region, near the capital Astana, blocked a road in protest with the flood control measures they deemed inefficient. They argued that the roads had flooded because of the untimely removal of snow. Two days later, a local court fined them for having staged an “illegal rally”.

A military court overturned on March 28 an earlier decision to acquit the soldier who had been accused of the killing of four-year-old Aikorkem Meldekhan. Arman Zhuman was found guilty of abuse of power through the use of weapons and sentenced to seven years in prison. Aikorkem was shot and killed on 7 January 2022 while in her father’s car in Almaty. That day, Tokayev said publicly he had given the order to shoot to kill without warning. She was the youngest of the 238 victims of Qandy Qantar (Kazakh for “Bloody January”, the violent repression of urban protests across the country).

Energy minister Almasadam Satkaliyev said on March 27 that the renewed agreement to pump Russian oil through the Kazakhstan-China pipeline will entail increased budget revenues. The transit fee has increased from $1/ton to $2.1/ton. Between 2013 and 2024, Russia pumped around 91 million tons of oil through Kazakhstan’s pipeline system to China, a deal that earned Kazakhstan $1.3 billion.

The construction of a new thermal power plant in the northern city of Kokshetau could start as early as this year, according to Satkaliyev. The minister said at a briefing on March 26 that the Russian company Inter RAO-Export has completed the feasibility study. Last year, Kazakhstan’s government agreed with Inter RAO-Export to build three new coal-fired power plants in Kokshetau, Oskemen, and Semey. Coal represents around 70% of Kazakhstan’s energy mix.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev flew to China on a state visit on March 28. Tokayev is attending the Boao Forum for Asia in Boao, in the southern Hainan province.

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