Kazakhstan: Blogs not only for debate, but also a source

The summer heat is by no means an obstacle for those bloggers who keep on discussing major social and political developments, among which there have been both inspiring and depressive news.

Notably, neweurasia was almost the only weblog to report on two trials in Kazakhstan that had caused serious resonance in the society, but got little coverage in the blogosphere. Arthur told about the “Shymkent Contamination Case”, in which several doctors and administrators were accused of infection of more than 100 children with HIV.

“The gist is that doctors, nurses, and administrators engaged in a pattern of corruption and negligence which lead to a huge number of children being infected. However, only the doctors and nurses are going to jail; the politically-connected administrators (one of them is the sister of the mayor of Almaty), got off with three-year suspended sentences”.

Another trial has also ended up with a verdict considered unfair by many. Elena of neweurasia reports that a judge in Shakhtinsk (Central Kazakhstan) found eight mine workers guilty of a tragic blast that killed 42 miners last September. Once again, not a single one manager of the company, which is a part of Mittal Steel, was prosecuted, while the charged workers had to face multiple irregularities during the investigation. Earlier, the London’s Sunday Times reported on the case.

Meanwhile, the owners of right-hand drive vehicles celebrate their victory – the government has withdrawn its suggestion to banish use of their cars after 2010. Aka-shika is congratulating her brothers- and sisters-in-arms, but warns that the police will, most likely, exercise stricter control over them (RUS).

James Love of Huffington Post voices concern over the KazAtomProm’s [Kazakh national company working in nuclear industry] bid to buy 10% in Westinghouse Co. from Toshiba, saying that access of autocratic Kazakhstan to American company’s technologies may be instigating instability in further perspective. Nathan of Registan, although, warns against being too paranoid:

“There surely are some good reasons to think carefully about the deal, but it would be nice if Love could show a bit more knowledge of Kazakhstan and a good deal more consideration of the larger policy questions surrounding the merits and demerits of cooperating with Kazakhstan’s government”.

Russian political expert nicknamed schriftsteller in Livejournal continues the “Nuke Theme” by reporting on Kazakhstan’s plan to build a new nuclear electric power station in its Caspian port Aktau. The project will be using Russian technology, specifically designed for small cities, but it will be first implemented in Kazakhstan (RUS).

The “Aliev Affair” is still a major topic in the blogosphere. “It already doesn’t matter for him whom to support”, says a-strekoza referring to the ex-ambassador’s latest interview, in which he said that his main foe, Almaty mayor Imangali Tasmagambetov, and opposition leaders Bulat Abilov and Galymzhan Zhakiyanov could be “good presidents for the country”. “His former wife [Dariga Nazarbayeva] does not wash dirty linen in public. It actually shows who of them does have good PR-experts, and does not”, she resumes (RUS).

Megakhuimyak investigates the publicly available data of the stock market and reveals that after Aliev fell in disgrace, his sugar monopoly Kant JSC (in which he had 75.7%), went off to Ms. Nazarbayeva. This shareholding is worth nearly $86 million. “What an unfortunate divorce! However, taking into consideration that Dariga was pulled out of the politics, she possibly opposed the divorce”, he notes (RUS).

Megakhuimyak also continues his overviews of statistics. This time he takes on birth/death rates in CIS countries (“Birth rate gets lower, while death rate gets higher to the West. Amazingly, birth rate decreases in Uzbekistan – things must be really bad there. Russia’s birth rate slightly grows, but the death rate is 3 times higher than in Tajikistan”) and budget spendings:

“Apparently, the economy-oriented states are Azerbaijan, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Russia spends much more money on defense, compared to other CIS countries, Kazakhstanis on culture, and Ukrainians on education” (RUS).

Ben of neweurasia reviews a new life expectancy report released by IRIN. According to the document, Kazakh men’s life expectancy dropped by 3.6 years in recent times, compared to a reduction of 1.6 years among women. “In the early 2000s, health problems were mostly brought in connection with environmental issues. Today, the focus of concern has shifted to urban areas, where the male morbidity differentials are most shocking”, Ben says.

Livejournal user neweurasian sees “a shift in conscience of officials”: Culture and Information minister Yertysbayev commented on blogs in a recent interview. “I think “citizen journalism is an amateur activity, which is not always objective… Political blogs – is it journalism? No, they just comment on the reports of traditional media… I think the best way to regulate it is self-regulation with obligatory observation of the law”, the minister stated. Thus, not only the mainstream media, but also officials start recognizing the impact of the blogosphere (RUS).

Megakhuimyak upholds the issue by reviewing a research paper, released by think-tank of Moscow State University. In particular, it says that many Russian experts regularly learn about Kazakhstan from Internet-resources, but more notably, some of them said they often read Kazakhstani blogs. “Livejournal serves as an important supplement to the official media and really can help an expert to form his view”, states megakhuimyak (RUS).

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