Kazakhstan. According to Countryaah.com, Kazakhstan population in 2020 is estimated at 18,776,718. President Nursultan Nazarbayev maintained his authoritarian grip on power. The independent newspaper Pravdivaja Gazeta was closed during the year. At the same time, Nazarbayev allowed the chairman of the OSCE Committee on Democracy and Human Rights to visit the incarcerated opposition leader Vladimir Kozlov.
There were signs that Nazarbayev was about to create a family dynasty. The president’s eldest daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva, was appointed as the leader of the party of power in the light of the Fatherland, and she was elected Deputy Speaker of Parliament’s House of Commons.
The authoritarian regime slowed investment from the outside and caused a flight of capital which forced the currency tenge. In February, the currency was devalued by 19% against the dollar.
The devaluation hit many borrowers in dollars, and protests were held in Alma-Ata, the country’s financial center. When President Nazarbayev appeared, he was met by the cry “Away with the old man!” Kravall police dispelled the protesters, many were arrested, several were sentenced to fines and one person was imprisoned.
Nazarbayev blamed the government on the crisis, and in April Prime Minister Serik Achmetov resigned. New prime minister was former Prime Minister Karim Masimov, whose main mission was to attract increased investment to Kazakhstan.
The Ukraine crisis also pressured Kazakhstan, which has long sought to balance the competing interests of China, the Russian Federation and the United States in Central Asia. President Nazarbayev now supported the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, which caused Ukraine to react harshly. The opposition in Kazakhstan accused Nazarbayev of leading the country into a political and diplomatic deadlock, with lost independence and Kazakhstan hostage to the Kremlin’s foreign policy.
That criticism increased when Kazakhstan in May signed an agreement with the Russian Federation and Belarus to form the Euro-Asian Economic Union (EEU), which comes into force in 2015. The Union, which is expected to be dominated by the Russian Federation, is seen as a regional counterbalance to the EU with a common trade market. Kazakhstan seemed to be a purely economic union over which the Russian Federation cannot take political control. However, the regime was criticized for the fact that the contract text was not public, but the authorities tried to silence protesters.
Russian President Vladimir Putin provoked Kazakhstan during the fall by suggesting that he did not respect Kazakhstan’s independence and territory. Against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis, this caused concern, and Nazarbayev declared that Kazakhstan could leave the EEU if the Union threatened its independence. In October, however, Nazarbayev signed a law establishing the agreement with the EEU.
A 63-year-old atheist, Aleksandr Kharlamov, who was incarcerated in a psychiatric clinic because of his religious criticism, was threatened by seven years in prison. He was indicted for instigating religious conflict, but human rights groups criticized the indictment.
Since 2013, corruption prosecutors investigated TeliaSonera’s dealings with Ajgul Nurijeva, a woman suspected of representing the Nazarbayev family. During the year it was reported that Tele2 also did business with Nurijeva. The wealthy presidential family was suspected of severe corruption and accused of exploiting the companies that want to enter Kazakhstan. Tele2 dismissed allegations that the company violated Nazarbayev’s regime.
In December, Kazakhstan signed an agreement with China on industrial and energy cooperation worth approximately SEK 110 billion. Among other things, uranium mines will be developed for export of nuclear fuel to China.