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Kazakhstan: Bloggers Discuss Elites and Economics

Plitical intra-elite battles and anti-corruption crusades both remain hot topics on the agenda of Kazakhstani blogosphere, but speculations over the looming global food crisis and its implications for Central Asia made the bloggers cover this issue in their discussions.

Ehot wonders, what will Kazakhstan be looking like if the food deficit strikes the region harshly and marks out that in such critical period

“elites – including ardent oppositionists – will leave the country with everything what can be taken out, and leave the nation to the mercy of fate”.

According to various assessments of experts, aggravation of the food problematique can lead to doubling of prices for foodstuff in the next five years. Epolet writes that in such conditions it would be natural if the national business starts eyeing the ways of making money on food [ru]:

Current credit crunch in Kazakhstan will force the domestic entrepreneurs to turn away from real estate sector and embrace lucrative agribusiness – the time of cheap food has gone.

Apart from the food deficit threat, lack of electricity and energy is also a jeopardy for Kazakhstan. The country barely made energy ends meet, and the forthcoming fall-winter season it will suffer a 200 megawatt deficit, writes Zhanna on neweurasia [ru]. The government suffests a number of measures, including renovation of the existing grids, speedy construction of new facilities and change of legislation to foster investments inflow to the sector, which is still dependent on the neighbors, including Uzbekistan and its natural gas. In this regard, it is interesting that on the last week, president of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov – traditionally quite jealous about regional leadership – was very harsh to deny the idea of Central Asian Union, promoted by the Kazakh leader [ru].

Meanwhile, the state continues to expand in the strategic areas of national economy. Alim-atenbek reports that Rusal, the world's largest aluminum producer from Russia, agreed to sell a 50 percent stake in two coal mines in Kazakhstan for $345 million to Samruk Holding, a Kazakh state-owned conglomerate, while Zhanna notes that Kazakhstan’s government again threatens U.S. oil major Chevron with a $309 million fine for alleged environmental violations.

“Although in most cases these charges do have enough grounds, sometimes ecology-wise claims are imposed as a pressure tool to sway the foreigners, like in the case of Agip and Kashagan”,

she writes.

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