28 июня 2024
Paolo Sorbello, photo from ktez.kz

The Week in Kazakhstan: Sparks Fly

Massimov’s pardon plea rejected, new sanctions, power plants in distress

The Week in Kazakhstan: Sparks Fly

Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said on June 27 that a referendum on whether to build the country’s first nuclear power plant (NPP) should be held in the fall. Last year, Tokayev mandated the start of public hearings regarding the possibility to build a NPP, although these have progressed timidly. The location, technical partners, and financing of the potential NPP have yet to be determined.

A group of wealthy people from Kazakhstan were aboard a superyacht that is under investigation for potentially starting a fire on the Greek island of Hydra on June 22. Greek authorities said that fireworks launched from a yacht could have been the spark that lit the fire across 300,000 square meters on Hydra. Daniyar Abulgazin, a wealthy oil tycoon, and Umut Shayakhmetova, the CEO of Kazakhstan’s largest bank, were reportedly on board, according to information obtained by Vlast, OCCRP, and Inside Story. Both Abulgazin and Shayakhmetova have ties to Timur Kulibayev, the son-in-law of the country’s former president and one of Kazakhstan’s richest.

The European Union (EU) updated its list of sanctioned companies and individuals on June 24 and included a Kazakhstan-registered company, Da Group 22, which participated in a scheme to supply microchips to Russia. This scheme had been uncovered by an investigation by Vlast, IStories, OCCRP, and Der Spiegel last year. In June, the US, Japan, and the EU have now all included Kazakhstani companies in their sanctions lists.

An appeals court in Astana rejected on June 26 a claim regarding procedural violations filed by the defense lawyers of Kuandyk Bishimbayev and Bakhytzhan Baizhanov. Bishimbayev, the ex-minister of economy, was sentenced in May to 24 years in prison for having beaten and killed his wife, in the most widely followed court case on domestic violence in the country. Baizhanov, a relative of Bishimbayev and the owner of the restaurant where the murder occurred, was sentenced to four years for attempting to conceal the crime.

A judicial commission under the President’s Office said on June 28 that it had rejected a request for pardon filed by Karim Massimov, the former security service chief who is serving an 18-year sentence for high treason. Massimov filed the application earlier this year. He was sentenced for his role in “plotting a coup” during popular protests in January 2022.

Repair works at six thermal power plants will suffer delays, the ministry of energy said on June 25. Aging coal-fired power plants in Ridder, Ekibastuz, Temirtau, Zhezkazgan, Kentau, and Stepnogorsk were scheduled to undergo retrofitting this year ahead of the heating season. Prime Minister Olzhas Bektenov said that this year alone, the schedule for repairs has changed 18 times. On June 28, four boilers at the Ekibastuz power plant shut down due to an accident.

A new thermal power plant in the central city of Kyzylorda should be commissioned in 2025, the President’s press office said on June 28. The decision to build a new power plant in Kyzylorda was already made last year. The combined-heat plant should substitute a 1964 coal-fired plant that has been deemed close to decommissioning.

The Islamic Development Bank will finance $2 billion in infrastructure projects, the government said on June 27. Chiefly, the projects will focus on water infrastructure, such as dams, reservoirs, and irrigation canals, the ministry of water management said. Since it started operations in Kazakhstan in 1995, the IDB has allocated around $1.8 billion to infrastructure projects.

Solidcore Resources, formerly known as Polymetal, has filed on June 25 a request to delist from the Moscow Stock Exchange (MOEX). The US Treasury Department put the MOEX on its sanctions list on June 13, which led to a halt in US dollar-denominated trades. Solidcore listed at the Astana International Stock Exchange last year, and then fully relocated to Kazakhstan this year and changed its name. KASE, the Almaty-based stock exchange, said on June 28 that it will negotiate a buyout of its shares that are currently owned by MOEX.