5 июля 2024
Paolo Sorbello, photo from Akorda.kz

The Week in Kazakhstan: Another Brick

The SCO summit in Astana ends, the price of sugar is slated to go up

The Week in Kazakhstan: Another Brick

Kazakhstan hosted the annual SCO summit in Astana on July 3-4. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization expanded by welcoming its 10th member, Belarus. The summit was an occasion for China and Russia to affirm their vision of a “multipolar world.” Kazakhstan’s former ambassador to Beijing, Nurlan Yermekbayev, was appointed to become the SCO’s next secretary general, starting next year.

Ahead of the SCO summit, China’s President Xi Jinping visited his counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Astana and focused on a stronger diplomatic and commercial cooperation between the two countries. During the bilateral meetings, China proposed cooperation in building dams, a gas-fired power plant, and higher education.

Research showed that the accident at the Karaturun gas field in the western Mangistau region last year led to the largest methane emission from an infrastructure ever documented. The scientists published their findings in the Environmental Science and Technology journal, highlighting that emissions could have reached 134,000 tons of methane. Despite satellite evidence, Kazakhstan government officials continue to deny or underestimate the environmental damage that the accident caused.

Aidos Sadykov, a journalist and activist from Kazakhstan, died of health complications almost two weeks after he was shot near his home in Kyiv, Ukraine. Two days after his death, a group of people planned to lay flowers in his memory in Almaty, near the monument to victims of political repression, but the police cordoned off the area. Around 40 people gathered in a restaurant in the western city of Aktobe, Sadykov’s birthplace, to honor his memory. On July 2, the Ukrainian authorities reclassified the attack as “premeditated conspiracy to commit murder.” One of two suspects, who had left Ukraine the same day of the attack, was detained in Kazakhstan. The other attacker remains on the run.

Medicines from India traveled across an illegal underground tunnel at the Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan border, the Uzbek national security service reported on July 3. The authorities said that a criminal group was using the tunnel to funnel medicine that had not received approval from the Uzbek medical corps. The medicines traveled from India to Almaty by plane and then were redirected to Uzbekistan via the underground tunnel.

The price of sugar could increase, analysts warned, after production shrank to the lowest level in four years in the first five months of 2024. In a written response to Vlast on July 1, the ministry of agriculture said the higher cost of raw sugar as well as the availability of cheaper imported sugar led to a slowdown in production. In January-April, sugar production fell by 12 times compared to the same period in 2023, while imports of sugar grew by 15%.

The Central Bank said on July 5 that 200 billion tenge ($421 million), or one-sixth of the assets held by the Kazakhstan Deposit Insurance Fund (KDIF) will be transferred to private management companies with a trust management arrangement. “We expect that this program will increase the return on assets,” Adil Utembayev, KDIF’s chairman, said. The Central Bank noted that the move would “give a significant boost to the domestic securities market.”