Kazakhstan: Language, Economics and Foreign Policy

The Kazakhstani authorities have again brought up the issue of state language. Kazakh language has been heavily depreciated in the Soviet times against the background of inculcation of Russian language. Earlier, officials restrained themselves from outright expulsion of the Russian language (which still dominates in the official paperwork and in other spheres), leaving this field to a few nationalist movements. Now everybody is concerned over the plan to introduce a TOEFL-like standard Kazakh language test, which will be required at employment starting from 2010.

“I repeatedly wrote that Kazakhs dominate in public service (no matter if they know their mother tongue or not). Some good doctors or drivers will leave the country – or just migrate to the private sector – but everything will remain the same. In either way, my children will study in a different country”,

writes slavoyara, a journalist from the northern part of the country, which is populated primarily by the Slavic people [ru].

dojdlivoe leto from the same region is a bit more positive – and still she wonders [ru]:

I wonder how they are going to work this out? Will they open free of charge language courses? Or will they simply fire everybody who doesn’t know Kazakh language in 2010? I mean, if you want everybody to know the language, be kind, create opportunities.

Meanwhile, alim-atenbek studies his pension fund account [ru]:

During my short work experience, I saved 388,000 tenge. Now I have their 368,000. The “accumulative pension fund” ate away my 20,000 tenge – or 5 percent! Taking into account 20 percent inflation in 2007, I am losing a lot. The fund’s officers blame credit crunch, but here is a couple of questions: does the state regulate activities of the funds – e.g., in terms of top managers’ salaries or assets they are investing into? And will these losses be reimbursed?

Megakhuimyak is looking at another – institutional – victim of the economic crisis. Nurbank is a great example of how politics affect business. Its shares went down not due to the credit crunch – they fell earlier, due to the conflict between the bank’s owner Rakhat Aliyev with his former father-in-law, Mr. President Nazarbayev [ru]:

Its shares showed steady growth until January 2007, when the scandal with the top-managers emerged [they were abducted and tortured by Aliyev]. The shares fell down from 62,500 to 52,500 tenge. Then, as the issue evolved into a bigger problem, the price was slowly going down. When the investigations intensified, shares collapsed down to 27,500. Then the financial crisis made a finishing blow – the current price is 17,000 tenge.

Mumo-cult reports on the visit of Marat Tazhin, foreign minister of Kazakhstan, to Washington, D.C., where he presented the President Nazarbayev’s book [ru]:

People were wondering why the author himself didn’t come, whu Tazhin refuses to sign the book, why he is so shy and laconic… However, open bar with unlimited alcohol, delicious food and free books pacified the public.

Meanwhile, weathercock is alarmed – against the background of recent developments on the Caucasus – over the news article in the New Yourk Times [ru]:

Did Kazakhstan anger Russia in some way? Russian army is conducting maneuvers in 300 miles from the Russia-Kazakh border…

Also posted on neweurasia.

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