26 апреля 2024
Paolo Sorbello, photo from the ministry of emergency situations

The Week in Kazakhstan: Smoke on the Water

The UK Foreign Secretary visits Astana, another journalist is detained

The Week in Kazakhstan: Smoke on the Water

A fire hit Semey Ormany, a forest and national park in the north east of the country on April 26. Semey Ormany suffered severe damage last summer when it was engulfed by massive fires, which burned more than 60,000 hectares of forest. Late on April 19, wildfires also broke out in the southern Almaty region. The authorities found themselves unprepared for the fires last year, not unlike this year with the floods that hit several regions.

The government has already paid out more than 4.5 billion tenge (around $10 million) to the families of the victims of the massive floods that have hit the northern and western regions of the country in the past month. The government also said on April 26 that it has expedited more than 12,000 out of a total 22,000 requests for one-time compensations.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron visited Kazakhstan on April 24 during a trip across Central Asia and Mongolia. In Astana, he met with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and signed a number of agreements aimed to enhance strategic partnership and cooperation.

Police detained Jamilya Maricheva, the founder of ProTenge, a media outlet focusing on corruption, on April 24. She was questioned for an hour regarding a post she shared in support of journalists working for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), to whom the government had refused accreditation. The following day, Aida Balayeva, the minister of culture and information, confirmed to have sent a complaint to the police regarding Maricheva’s activities for having posted information that was later refuted through official channels.

During a closed negotiation, the leadership of RFE/RL and the government reached a deal on April 23, ending a dispute regarding the ministry of foreign affairs’ refusal to grant accreditation to 36 journalists working in the US Congress-funded media. The details of the deal were not disclosed.

The corpses of at least 180 seals were found on the shores of the Caspian Sea in April, an inspectorate in the western Mangistau region reported on April 26. Caspian seals, a particular species, have suffered from poachers, maritime traffic, and climate change, which has changed the landscape in the northern section of the Caspian, where they seasonally rest.

The government published on April 24 a “Hydrogen Strategy”, which aims to develop hydrogen as a green energy source for the country. The strategy aims to build a 10 GW of electrolysis capacity by 2040. German-Swedish group SVEVIND is currently developing the Hyrasia hydrogen project in the Mangistau region in cooperation with Kazakhstan’s government.

Government officials promised on April 22 that workers at West Oil Software, on strike since early December last year, could be hired by another service company, if they wished. Hundreds of West Oil Software workers have been on strike in Zhetibay, in Mangistau, for more than five months demanding to be hired directly by Kazmunaigas, the national oil and gas company, instead of working as subcontractors.