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Kazakhstan: Crisis and Elections

Elections
Elections are scheduled for August 18 and the campaign is drawing to its end this week. Megakhuimyak comments (RUS) on the constitutional novelty according to which almost 10% of the parliament's lower chamber is elected (de-facto appointed) by the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan, a consultative body subordinate to the president. The novelty is meant to ensure representation of ethnic minorities. The blogger says that the principle of formation of the Assembly's list is non-transparent and controversial:

Why they put a Kazakh there is unclear. Why they chose Balkars (North Caucasus ethnicity) among all other small nations is also hardly understandable. Others are totally unknown people. Either the presidential administration is working badly, or it is their politics to stuff up the Majilis with dull deputies?

Adam of neweurasia also provides (RUS) an overview of media coverage surrounding the Assemly's nomination.

Adam also reports on the legalization of property and money that the opposition regards as an officially approved money-laundering campaign, in which higher state officials (that form the core of the ruling “Nur-Otan's” party list) and their relatives have benefited the most (ENG).

This opinion is shared (RUS) by Irene of cj.kz:

All official media are very praiseful about legalization. I'm sorry, maybe I don't understand something, but is it true that we are lauding the fact that people effectively used the chance to confirm their rights for luckily stolen property and money, simultaneously escaping trials and jails?

Meanwhile milis-kz believes (RUS) that the Kazakh opposition today “is not a bunch of small factions any more; they are now a real political force, judging by the platform of the All-National Social Democratic Party”. However, he admits: “Most likely, neither debates nor the vote itself play any role, as the “proper” figures are already getting prepared on the top.” Probably, this is one of the reasons why the youth in Kazakhstan is apolitical, as Vitaliy Mantrov writes (RUS) on neweurasia.

Financial crisis?
America's mortgage crisis, the downfall of stock markets, the raise of the dollar in Kazakhstan (which many believe to be a consequence of the abovementioned legalization – and the subsequent flight of capital abroad) and longstanding rumors of a banking system collapse (based on excessive external borrowings of the Kazakhstani banks, which they spend by giving away consumer credits) made bloggers think:

Count-asylum says (RUS) that “crisis in the banking sphere is becoming the main issue in the blogosphere, pushing the parliamentary elections off the radar, partly also because their results are quite predictable”.

Megakhuimyak was radical enough to declare the start of crisis after an article (RUS) got published in the Russian major daily “Kommersant”:

Stock prices of Kazakh Alliance Bank and Kazkommertzbank decreased in London, other banks’ stocks fell at the Kazakhstani stock exchange. If you say this is not a crisis, then what is it?

Gorisvet says (RUS) that all top Kazakh banks dramatically increased the amount of initial installments for credits and mortgages, while two of them totally suspended giving away credits until September. Ehot wonders (RUS) which bank will be the first to fall next Monday.

Meanwhile, most financial experts, governmental officials and banks’ top managers say that the crisis is not a precise word for the situation. They say that the economy on the whole and the banking sector in particular will not collapse because of sizeable stabilization instruments (gold-and-currency fund and the National Fund, which is aggregating petrodollars) and stable world prices for oil.

In this respect, Steve LeVine on his personal blog oilandglory comments on the Kazakh government's decision to press harder for broader control over the country's oil wealth.

Besides
Saken Tauzhanov, an independent journalist, blogger on KUB and a critic of the regime, was hit by a truck and died in Almaty.

Wondernews says (RUS):

It is necessary to investigate whether this was an accident or not, although there is no reason to trust the official investigations. The country goes down the hill.

Weathercock agrees (RUS):

A journalist, who dared to publicly and critically evaluate the reality perished. I have no doubts that this was murder. Every time an opposition journalist or politician dies, I can hardly escape the feeling of disgust towards the country of Kazakhstan.

Georgian comments (RUS) on the so-called “Aliyev Affair“, in which the Kazakhstani authorities are trying to prosecute former presidential son-in-law and diplomat Rakhat Aliev for alleged affiliation with mafia and kidnappings.

The court in Vienna refused to extradite him, saying that he can't get fair trial in Kazakhstan. Georgian alludes to the long-rumored suspicion that Aliyev's plans was to inherit the president's post after Nazarbayev and says:

It seems like “Papa [president Nazarbayev] had promised sweet candy to Rakhat, but later ate it himself. Now Aliyev feels offended and complains about Papa to other relatives.

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