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Astana International Financial Centre joins Vantage Financial Centres

16 hours 51 min ago

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) has partnered with Vantage Financial Centres (VFC), an exclusive association of international financial centres. The partnership will grant AIFC the privileges of the association and is to boost its profile internationally.

The association includes such well-known international financial centres as Tokyo, Toronto, Shanghai, Beijing and Abu Dhabi. Members of the VFC receive consulting support and assessments of their activities from other members of the association.

Also, all the centres can take an active part in international high level events which are used for the exchange of experience and expert opinions on increasing the competitiveness of financial centres.

Joining the association is a timely step towards the establishment and development of the Kazakh centre, the press service of the AIFC reports.

Members of the VFC have created Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) since 2007, which is based on more than 29,000 evaluations of financial centres from the online questionnaire. The index also takes into account more than 100 indicators of organisations, such as the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and reflects the competitiveness of financial centres.

The ranking examines five key areas: business environment, infrastructure factors, financial sector development, reputation and general factors, and human capital.

The AIFC aims to create favourable conditions for investment and finance and to develop the securities market, ensuring its integration with international capital markets. The AIFC also intends to develop insurance, banking and Islamic finance markets in Kazakhstan. The centre provides a special legal regime based on the principles of English law, independent financial regulation in accordance with international standards, tax preferences for a period of 50 years, simplified visa and labour conditions and English as an official language in the territory of the AIFC.

The AIFC seeks to become a financial hub for the Central Asian region, member states of the EAEU, the Caucasus, Western China, the Middle East, Mongolia and Europe. It is planned that the centre will be located within EXPO 2017 and supported by modern infrastructure and cutting-edge technologies.

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Astana Opera to host first Astana Opera Ball with 100 dancing pairs

16 hours 55 min ago

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The Astana Opera will host its first Astana Opera Ball in the opera house’s Marble Hall on July 1. Cast members are being chosen and tickets to the public will be made available soon.

“Young people from all over Kazakhstan may take part in this ball. For now, mostly residents of the capital city have expressed their interest but the (casting) process is not over yet,” Senior Specialist of the theatre’s press service Yekaterina Romanova told The Astana Times.

One-hundred of the country’s best dance pairs our expected to open the ball. Candidates have to go through a number of steps to participate in the ball casting. Casting for dancers at the ball has almost wrapped up, however, debutantes will be selected on April 2, according to the press office of Astana Opera.

“Single young men aged 18-28 and women aged 18-25 wishing to fill their lives with bright impressions and plunge into the magical atmosphere of the ball may place a request to participate,” the opera house notes.

Age, however, is not the only criteria when it comes to selecting participants. Male participants must be taller than 175 centimetres and females 165 centimetres and taller. Looks, musical sense, plasticity, dance skills and refinement level also matter.

Renowned choreographers will give dance lessons to the selected 100 pairs during three months. Psychologists will be assisting young people in overcoming nervous excitement they might experience due to feeling uneasy about being in the spotlight.

The opera house will provide participants with luxurious ball gowns, tiaras and tuxedos, the press office stated.

The ball committee includes seniors of Astana Opera’s creative team, including Artistic Director of the ballet company and People’s Artist of Russia Altynai Asylmuratova.

The ball is expected to include high-level guests, music stars and media. Tickets will be available for sale as soon as all participants are selected.

“Casting is taking place now. Young people show great interest, however, none of the less female candidates are leading by the number of applications received,” organisers noted.

According organisers, this is a great chance to connect with classic arts, learn dancing and find new, interesting friends.

“Our goal is to make the ball in Astana one if the most significant events on the eve of the Day of the Capital so that thousands of guests from different cities and countries attend this event each year,” organisers said.

The Astana Opera Ball is financially supported by sponsors of the theatre and held with assistance from the Kazakh Ministry Culture and Sports.

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Dimash Kudaibergen wins Best Asian Singer in China’s Top Music Awards

16 hours 58 min ago

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s new singing star Dimash Kudaibergen continues buzzing in China. Recently, he won the top award in the China Top Music Awards in the category Best Asian Popular Singer for his outstanding performances in the television show “Singer 2017,” which will broadcast April 8 – 15 during the grand finale of the season.

“I am very happy right now. This is my first award of this magnitude abroad. First of all, I want to thank my parents and my close friends who have been supporting me. And also, the show ‘I am a Singer’ that helped me open up,” Kudaibergen said at the awards ceremony.

“China Top Music Awards” is the Chinese version of the “Grammy Award” in the U.S., awarded for outstanding achievements in music. Ironically, Kudaibergen wasn’t as successful back in Kazakhstan before the show in China.

“I had heard of Dimash last year, when he won some contest in Russia,” said big fan and supporter from Astana Zhaniya Karimova. “We knew about him but we never paid too much attention to what he was doing or what he was singing. Today, we listen to his performances every day at home,” the 25-year-old fan told The Astana Times.

Some time after his rise to stardom in China, French morning television programme “Telematin” discussed Kudaibergen’s performance during the show. Kudaibergen performed the famous French song by Daniel Balavione “SOS d’un terrien en detresse” in French.

The host found Kudaibergen’s voice “beautiful” and despite the fact that he is foreign and doesn’t speak Cantonese or Mandarin has become extremely popular in contemporary China today and has more than 3 million followers on Chinese social media resource Weibo, where he has also garnered some 1.4 billion views.

World-famous Belgian-Canadian singer Lara Fabian also praised the Kazakh through her Facebook page thanking him for reviving the spirit of her own masterpiece, “Adagio.”

“‘Adagio’ travels across continents… Congratulations to Dimash [Kudaibergen] performing at the Chinese TV competition ‘I am a singer’,” she wrote.

Today, Kudaibergen is enjoying the fame that Chinese Singer 2017 has brought him since the beginning of the year. He is signing numerous contracts with world-known labels, is readying to perform at the world exhibition EXPO 2017 this summer in Astana and is preparing to perform for a soundtrack of the famous Chinese television series “Go Go Power Rangers.”

Aktobe-born and raised, Kudaibergen saw overnight success in China after his debut in the song contest in January. “Singer” is a television series that approaches only established performers. There were 16 at the beginning of this season; three still remain – Kudaibergen, the Taiwanese band “Lion” and renowned singer from Hong Kong Sandy Lam – Kudaibergen’s main rival throughout the contest.

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Kazakhtelecom opens network operations centre

17 hours 1 min ago

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Kazakhtelecom Unified Network Management Centre, launched in mid-March in Almaty, aims to help the company automate work and promptly find and fix malfunctions. The centre’s staff processes approximately 400,000 various types of messages each month, from system signals about malfunctions to information alerts, reported Tengrinews.kz.

The facility is equipped with the latest security and communication systems and backup systems. All information is displayed on the video wall, one component of the unified control centre’s monitoring system. The screen, measuring 15.5 metres long and 2 metres high, consists of 39 panels which show segments including GPON, large communication stations, a data network, technologies and services provided. The centre is operated by more than 200 employees, including operators, engineers, analysts and equipment experts.

Approximately 95 percent of the processes are automated and labour productivity increased 25 percent as a result of the centre’s activities.

The platform allows optimising the management processes and reducing operating costs, said Kazakhtelecom Board Chairperson Kuanyshbek Yessekeyev.

“Being a trendsetter, we are attracting the best practices, implementing modern software and acquiring equipment that meets international security requirements. I’m confident that the new approach will positively affect the quality of customer experience and the provision of services,” he added.

The centre’s stable operation depends on the uninterrupted provision of services to consumers, noted Kazakhtelecom Chief Technical Director Alexander Lezgovka.

“We wanted to build a new structure in accordance with the security requirements and standards of leading western operators. All emergency and information messages are sent to this centre. The messages are processed in automatic mode, its severity level is determined and further information is displayed on the screens of experts responsible for each specific segment of the network. Experts take measures to troubleshoot problems in accordance with the severity level. In general, the effect from the introduction of the single centre is positive,” he added.

According to regulations, three hours are spent on troubleshooting. Centre analysts, however, can do the same work in one hour and 50 minutes, noted general director Askar Eserkegenov.

“Earlier, similar monitoring systems existed in each regional centre and any report on the accident first came there and only then to the central office. A single centre allows us to see all accidents, regardless of where they took place, in the district centres or in a city. Response to problems and their elimination have become more operational,” he said.

About a half a year was needed to create a single centre and centralise functions. The technical part has been modernised and the best specialists from all regions of the country were attracted to the process.

Information on the company’s technological equipment, services implemented in the communication service market and measures taken to improve the quality of customer service were also presented as part of the event.

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Two Kazakh athletes stand out at modern pentathlon world cup in Cairo

Wed, 2017-03-29 07:50

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

Kazakh athletes Pavel Ilyashenko and Elena Potapenko placed 15th and 19th respectively at the International Union of Modern Pentathlon World Cup March 21-27 in Cairo.

Kazakhstan, which sent eight athletes, was among 26 countries that participated. In addition to Ilyashenko and Potapenko, the Kazakh delegation included Ardak Akhidullayeva, Igor Sozinov, Vladislav Sukharev, Artem Drobotov, Fariza Orumbekova, and Yerkezhan Sabyrbaikyzy. The team was coached by Yelena Akhmetova, Sergiy Turobov, Vladimir Belykh, Sergey Kolegov, and Oksana Dmitriyenko.

In the men’s competition, Ilyashenko and Sukharev ended in the 15th and the 34th places, respectively. Potapenko let the women with her 19th place finish in the competition at Cairo International Stadium.

In the team-relay mixed competition, Potapenko and Ilyashenko performed well, finishing sixth.

Of the team’s performance, Coach Akhmetova told The Astana Times, “I expected, or let’s say hoped for, a better performance from the team. However, I must say that Akhidullayeva, Drobotov, Orumbekova and Sabyrbaikyzy are young players who were exposed for the first time to such a big championship. … These four players participated in championships, but this was their first big event.”

Akhmetova said modern pentathlon is popular in Kazakhstan. “If we compare the status of modern pentathlon in Kazakhstan with its status in other countries, we will see that the sport is widely spread in Kazakhstan.”

That popularity is helped by the Kazakh modern pentathlon league, which attracts young athletes. “Supporting the players at a young age, is an important mean to improve and develop the sport,” she said.

The Kazakh modern pentathlon team will face difficult challenges ahead, including competing in the Youth World Cup in August in Hungary and the Asian Championship in October in Tokyo.

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Almaty’s Evangelical Centre supports country’s religious harmony policy

Wed, 2017-03-29 07:48

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Agape Evangelical Centre in Almaty supports the idea of religious harmony in Kazakhstan. The church has its own annual and Sunday gatherings for church services, Bible readings and prayers.

Yuri Shumayev. Photo credit: iskateliboga.org

In 1989, Baikal Dzodziyev and Yuri Shumayev founded the Agape mission. During the 1990s, several evangelisations (outreach) were organised in Almaty and Agape Church began its service in the beginning of 1991.

“Our centre is an ordinary Christian Protestant church that has been operating for 28 years now. My friend and I founded this church together,” Shumayev, a senior minister (pastor) at Agape Evangelical Centre, shared with The Astana Times.

They were conducting social work, helping those in need and nursing homes. People were in kind of a “spiritual vacuum” at the time, he said.

“We began searching for spirituality for them, coming across different religions; this way, our community had formed. Like that, we have grown into a Protestant movement; eventually, Agape Evangelic Centre in Kazakhstan,” he said.

The Greco-Christian term “agape” refers to “love: the highest form of love, charity,” and means “the love of God for man and of man for God.” Like all Protestants, the Agape Church professes the Apostles’ Creed, sometimes entitled Symbol of the Apostles (an early statement of Christian belief – a creed or “symbol”).

“We have a church in Almaty and other branches. We do a regular church service, collaborate with the akimat (city administration), do good and conduct charity and educational work and pray for the country, for the President like all other churches do, I believe,” said Shumayev.

“We are friendly with other churches. We love Orthodox Christians and they love us, too. We are obedient citizens of our country,” he added.

The church usually organises an annual conference where people gather, communicate with each other for two or three days, sing and read the Bible. Every Sunday adherents gather in a similar way – a church service glorifying their creator, reading the Bible, praying, making plans on how they can help those in need and having tea together.

The church is aware of international religious gatherings in the country such as President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s launch of the triennial Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions since 2003.

“We simply pray and say that it is good that such activities take place… We think positively about such events; thank goodness this occasion has been going on for several years,” said Shumayev.

Nazarbayev is considerate about religious harmony [in the country], not letting national and religious enmity to happen, he added.

“Therefore, we are humble about not being invited to such a happening yet; maybe someday we will be. Meanwhile, we support this idea, pray and are glad that Kazakhstan conducts these events, which many people know and discuss. I am even told about this when traveling outside the country. Thank God we have so many nationalities here living in peace together. This is our President’s merit and that God helps us when we pray,” he said.

“I want to say thank you for the possibility to collaborate with authorities, local and city akimats (city administration) in Almaty. We gather for a meeting where we talk about our work, where we are informed about plans and laws. Everything is well,” he added.

Protestantism in Kazakhstan is one of the forms of Christianity in the country. Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism (initially known as the Revivalist Movement) has the largest number of non-Orthodox Christian churches officially registered in the nation.

Four hundred registered communities were Pentecostal at the beginning of 2011. All religious communities were required to re-enter registration by authorities due to new legislation the following year.

In 2016, 217 Pentecostal, 181 Evangelical Christian Baptist, 108 Presbyterian and 14 Evangelical Lutheran churches were re-registered by authorities, according to data from the Kazakh Ministry of Religious Affairs and Civil Society.

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EAEU works on common exchange space for oil products

Wed, 2017-03-29 07:45

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The issues of organising the exchange trade of oil and oil products under the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) developing programme to form common oil and oil products markets were discussed at a meeting of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) advisory committee working group for oil and gas, according to the EEC press service.

“The participants of the common oil and oil products markets will receive a transparent mechanism for the formation of the market price by taking into account exchange and over-the-counter (OTC) indicators for oil and oil products within the framework of the EAEU,” said EEC Energy Department head Leonid Shenets at the event, which was attended by representatives of the EAEU member states’ authorised bodies, oil and gas companies and scientific institutions.

With the beginning of trade on one such exchange site, the St. Petersburg International Commodity and Raw Materials Exchange, the volume of trade in oil and oil products increased more than 600 times in the period 2008-2016 and amounted to more than 15 percent of domestic consumption in the Russian Federation, according to the press release. In 2008 and 2016, the volume of trading in oil and oil products was 27,000 tonnes and 17 million tonnes, respectively.

The participants at the meeting agreed the exchange trade in oil and oil products will take place within the framework of a common exchange space and should be formed on the basis of interaction. The technological processes are expected to be completed by 2021.

According to the EAEU agreement, the programme for forming common oil and oil products markets should be approved before 2018.

A number of measures are anticipated in the second stage, which will last until 2023.The actions include developing rules for access to oil and petroleum products transportation systems and rules of trade on common markets. The project’s main steps should be implemented before 2024. In the final stage, an international treaty within the union on forming common markets for oil and oil products   will need to enter into force.

A number of other topics were also discussed during the meeting, such as the need to establish subsidiary control bodies to manage and support the common markets for oil and oil products, as well as price control and antimonopoly regulation mechanisms.

One of the key issues is OTC price indicators of common oil and oil products markets. With the proposal by the Russian Ministry of Energy, the EEC is considering the possibility of taking the indicators into account when concluding contracts for the supply of actual volumes of oil and petroleum products.

“It has been suggested to take into account the price indices of over-the-counter trades, which are registered by operators. Other proposals include the use of price indices for contracts. They should be calculated on the basis of quotations, which are published by information analytical agencies,” said the statement.

The next meeting of the working group will be held in April 2017.

The EAEU’s fuel and energy complex has a powerful integration potential, as the member states possess about 20 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves and 7 percent of oil reserves. Equally important is the presence of interconnected energy infrastructure facilities created as part of the unified energy system of the former Soviet Union. The fuel and energy complex also represents a significant share of the union’s gross domestic product (GDP) and industrial production – one-sixth of the former and one-third of the latter.

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Movie about Alexei Leonov, first man to walk in space, to premiere April 6

Wed, 2017-03-29 07:43

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – “Vremya Pervyh” (“The Time of the First Ones”), the first Russian movie about the heroic story of Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, will be released April 6 in 3D. The film will also be available in the Kazakh language.

The picture tells the real story of Leonov’s spacewalk during the one-day Voskhod 2 mission. The production crew recreated the dramatic circumstances of the brave flight and crew’s return to Earth. Russian actors Yevgeny Mironov and Konstantin Khabensky played the roles of Leonov and mission commander Pavel Belyayev, respectively.

“This is not a disaster film; it is a film about the success of a person. We made the film and described the story of the hero who did not look at his feet, but looked forward and up. Having gone all the way with actors Mironov and Khabensky, people will believe that they can do anything,” said Kazakh producer Timur Bekmambetov.

The Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities supported the movie idea, he added.

“I would like to thank Kazakhstan and its local people for the land, because all major events took place there. On the snowy morning of March 18, we launched from there. I had never, ever seen the Kazakh steppe covered with white snow and here I saw it. Later, I returned to Kazakhstan to express gratitude to the local people and the land for what we did,” said Leonov.

Leonov invited the Kazakh people to see the blockbuster.

“Dear friends, I invite you to watch the film. I believe that you will enjoy this true story,” he added.

In 1960, Leonov passed the necessary tests and was enlisted in the Soviet cosmonaut detachment. The Voskhod 2 spaceship launched March 18, 1965 with Belyayev and Leonov on board. During the flight, Leonov made history’s first space-walk, lasting 12 minutes, nine seconds.

Minutes after he stepped into space, however, he realised his suit had inflated like a balloon, preventing him from getting back inside. Leonov was forced to bleed off some of his suit’s pressure and demonstrating exceptional courage, climb into the hatch head rather than feet first, which was forbidden by instruction. Seven serious abnormal situations occurred in flight, three or four of which were even deadly, he said.

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International medical aid project brings free reconstructive surgery to Kazakh children

Wed, 2017-03-29 07:41

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The Asyl Bala Association has launched a project to provide reconstructive and plastic surgeries to children with congenital facial malformations, post-burn deformities and pigmented spots.

The project is being implemented in cooperation with the International Assistance Group and the Medical Centre Corporate Foundation.

Visiting American plastic surgeons specialising in helping children with severe burns, pigmentation issues and a variety of facial deformities examined more than 200 small patients March 13 to 15. Operations for more than 100 children are scheduled for the end of May.

The operations will be conducted for free by Surgicorps International plastic surgeons together with Kazakh surgeons from the Maternity and Childhood National Science Centre in Astana. International Assistance Group Chair Larisa Mason has also agreed to donate facial surgery equipment from the U.S. to the centre.

Asyl Bala Association founder Gulnara Kunanbayeva, who heads the plastic surgery project, explained that the U.S. medical assistance group offers such services around the world and has decided to include Kazakhstan this year. American experts conducted the first selection of children for the operations in October 2016.

“The specialists selected 100 children and 16 of them are from foster homes. They have different diagnoses. There are children with post-burn scars, Goldenhar syndrome, maxillofacial defects, cleft lip and wolf mouth. There are a lot of children with cleft palates. Basically, these are children from low-income families who cannot afford to pay for the operations. Plastic surgeries are very expensive,” she said.

Many of the operations the children need are complicated and consist of several stages, she noted.

Asyl Bala signed a cooperation agreement with Mason to bring the surgeons to Kazakhstan. A respected American specialist will do the surgeries in three operating rooms donated by the Maternity and Childhood Centre. Ten surgeons and anaesthesiologists are expected to come, Kunanbayeva said.

“We provide travel and accommodation for the specialists and they bring the equipment with them, which remains here after the operation. … We plan to conduct 100 operations, but there are many children in need of help. It is possible that more operations will be carried out,” said Kunanbayeva.

During the first stage of the project in October, about 90 children from across Kazakhstan were examined by the national science centre and Surgicorps International plastic surgeons.

Asyl Bala is a nongovernmental, non-profit organisation that coordinates charitable events and campaigns for children. It has offices in all regions of the country.

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UN Commission praises development of women’s entrepreneurship in Kazakhstan

Wed, 2017-03-29 07:38

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The March 13-24 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations headquarters in New York praised approaches taken by Kazakhstan to increase employment and boost women’s entrepreneurship in rural areas, reported the press service of KazAgro National Management Holding.

Deputy Chairperson of KazAgro Aigul Mukhamadiyeva spoke about the development of women’s entrepreneurship in agriculture in Kazakhstan as one of the most important activities of the holding. According to statistics, agriculture is one of the three most popular sectors of the economy from a gender perspective: 17 percent of the total number of employed women in the economy is involved in agriculture, following trade and education at 19 percent.

Mukhamadiyeva noted a large share of women in agriculture – almost 51 percent of the total number of self-employed women in the country. In other gender-oriented sectors women are mainly employees, but in the agricultural sector women are involved in the manufacturing of products, including in private households.

“The development programme of productive employment and mass entrepreneurship for 2017-2021, initiated by the government, provides great opportunities for the development of women’s entrepreneurship in the rural areas. Implementing the programme, KazAgro Holding takes incentive measures to encourage more women to open their own businesses. Thus, in 2016 KazAgro issued 36.6 percent of the total number of loans to women with a 3-5 percent increase annually,” noted in the report.

The Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs trained 180 novice entrepreneurs under the Bastau programme in 2016, covering 53 percent of women.

The official delegation of Kazakhstan participated in the work of the 61st session of the CSW. Each year, the commission focuses on a certain challenge women face. This year the CSW discussed employment opportunities for women. Participants from at least 170 countries shared their experience in combating discrimination against women and developing women’s entrepreneurship.

In February 1947, the CSW had its first meeting in New York after the United Nations was founded. The CSW is a venue in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women. The commission considers the involvement of women in economic activities, ensuring equal rights and opportunities for women in access to education and work, equal pay for equal work and the impact of technological modernisation on women’s employment opportunities.

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Astana raises a pint to pub culture

Wed, 2017-03-29 07:34

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – No matter what is happening in Kazakhstan – financial crisis, political uncertainty or Barys bowing out of the Continental Hockey League’s (KHL) playoffs, pubs in the capital are crowded and busy come Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“People will always be going to bars and pubs, because it’s become a culture to have a drink or two after a work day. It removes worries and stress, so you could say it’s even healthy,” said 28-year-old temporary resident Sergei Shalygin, a regular on special occasions, in his interview with The Astana Times.

“Just about seven or so years ago, Astana didn’t have much of a bar culture or a pub culture; it all is happening now,” he added. “Olympics – we hit a bar; Universiade – we hit a bar; Golovkin match – we are at the bar; World Cup, guess what, we are in bars and pubs. I can’t remember this type of commotion around pubs before. Just look at the Chechil Pub or Draft, for instance; you won’t find a place at these pubs on weekends.”

Shalygin, who lived in the U.S. and Europe since childhood and often travels between North America and Eurasia, frequently compares Kazakh pubs with western-style bars.

“Today, there are pubs in Astana that can easily beat any western one. The difference is the loud live music in Kazakhstan that almost all pubs have. Surely, it is fun to dance after a couple of shots of tequila. One doesn’t expect a pub to be a place for naps, but it can get annoying when you lose you voice after a trip for a drink or two and for good conversation,” he said.

People have different needs and preferences depending on what each wants on his or her night out and Shalygin shared his pub experience.

Pubs for talking

For quiet conversations, Shalygin prefers such places as the Irish Pub at the Rixos Hotel on the left bank.

“This place is by far my favourite for talks and conversation. It is located at the Rixos Hotel and the service is great, but the administration lets their customers smoke inside. I am a smoker and it’s ok with me, but for non-smokers this isn’t the place to be,” he said.

Number two on his list is Barley, located at the intersection of Valikhanov and Imanov streets.

“This place has everything one needs: good food, live music and even a night club just around the corner. So, whatever you want to do you will find it here,” he added.

Pubs for quality beer

When good beer is on tap, Shalygin and his friends choose O’Hara. The pub is located along the right bank at the bottom of the Grand Alatau residential complex.

“This place will have a demonstration of all sorts of beer upon customer request and there’s always a good choice of beer to accommodate any mood. The live music is very good, but it will make you move, not just listen,” he said.

Shalygin’s second choice is Pivovaroff on the left bank along Saraishyk Street.

“The name of the restaurant is Pivovaroff, which means ‘beer brewer’ in Russian, and this place doesn’t disappoint. A good variety for beer lovers,” he said.

Pubs for dancing and loud fun

The next two pubs are quite affordable and fun, said Shalygin.

“Draft on Tashenov Street rocks the floor and is always packed to the roof on weekends. A great place for random meetups and networking. People at this place are always in a good mood and ready to have fun. This place does have rude administrators; keep that in mind, but not all of them are,” he said.

His second choice in the category went to Chechil on Kabanbai Batyr Avenue.

“Chechil often doesn’t have tables, but to us, the regulars, they will always find one. Very cheap beer and food, loud music, dances and random meetups – this is what this place is about. I would highly recommend it,” he said.

“Third in this category comes Bochonok on Respublika Avenue. This place has decent beer, good food and loud live music. However, it doesn’t always get as busy as the other two, so I would give it third place, but it needs to be mentioned here,” said Shalygin.

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HC Barys out of Gagarin Cup playoffs, loses in second round

Tue, 2017-03-28 01:22

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

The Barys hockey club, much to the regret of its large army of fans, ended its playoff runin the second round of the Gagarin Cup playoffs of the Continental Hockey League with a loss to Metallurg Magnitogorsk, the current Gagarin Cup holder.

Barys lost in all four games of the series – 0:4, 4:5 (OT), 3:5 and 2:3 (OT). It is fair to say that the “snow leopards” played well in the series, with two of its losses coming in overtime.

Despite the defeat, Barys can recognise the past season as a success because the team again made it through the first round of playoffs, repeating its best achievement in the KHL.

Kazakh hockey fans will now have to switch their attention to the performances of the Torpedo club from Ust-Kamenogorsk, which reached the semi-final of the Bratina Cup in the Supreme Hockey League.

And in the third week of April, the Kazakh national team will go to Kiev to compete for the opportunity to play against some of the best hockey teams in the world as it will seek the return to the top division of the world ice hockey for next year.

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Microtargeting is new information reality, head of Kazakh journalist body says

Tue, 2017-03-28 01:18

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

Today, Kazakhstan stands at the threshold of a new reality. Institutional reforms affect all aspects of life, and mass media, of course, should not remain on the sidelines of these processes.

What are the future steps of the Chief Editors Club of Kazakhstan? President of the Club, General Director of Teleradiocomplex of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan” Erlan Bekkhozhin talked about it in his interview with Kazakhstanskaya Pravda newspaper.

 Let’s start with a recent roundtable of the Chief Editors Club for discussing the initiatives of the President – constitutional reforms programme and the state-of-the-nation address. What is the purpose of these discussions?

We have exchanged opinions on how fully, objectively and expertly we can and should convey information on the essence of these reforms to viewers and readers. Today, in the boundless sea of information people focus on only those messages that touch their emotions, attract attention through creative and reasonable texts or stories, as well as design, infographics or other modern tools of visualisation.

Thus, information products of journalists should perfectly match the taste and style of a targeted audience and the society’s needs in general.

There is a modern term microtargeting or in other words the determination of goals and influence on a certain group of people. This is how business is promoted, and this is how Western mass media is promoted. Of course, in a greater degree it is a network phenomenon, but today, when we talk about the juncture between conventional mass media and internet, we have to take into account modern practices. Otherwise, social networks will continue to squeeze traditional mass media.

Is this not an exaggeration? Can Odnoklassniki or Facebook replace professional journalism?

Of course, they cannot. However, we will definitely loose a part of the audience. Indeed, it will be the case if we do nothing. During a recent regional mass media forum, Minister of Information and Communications of Kazakhstan Dauren Abayev noted that nowadays even the most efficient websites cannot disseminate information as quickly as messengers and social networks.

Therefore, there is no more purpose for conventional mass media to compete with them in terms of the speed of delivering information. Today, the survival capacity of journalism does not depend on who the first source of this or that news is. It is important to say why something has happened and what consequences are there. The redemption of journalism is in strengthening of the analytical element. There is a need to induce the audience to think. And it is crucial not only for the industry, but for the country too. After all, the fall of journalism will reduce the ability to understand the processes that take place in society and world.

This refers to the importance of determining the needs of readers, establishing direct connection with the audience and providing deeper analysis of issues of public concern. We discussed this question within the Chief Editors Club in the context of the initiatives of the head of state. The theme of our round table was “Modernisation: Time for Joint Efforts.”

Mass media should not only inform, but also serve as feedback that serves to advise when something goes wrong, to detect incompetence or, in the opposite, provide bright examples of positive experiences.

Mass media must use new approaches and focus on the quality of publications and TV reports rather than quantity.

Unfortunately, the so called “press-release journalism,” which is ultimately killing our profession, has gone mainstream.

It is crucial for us looking forward. The world evolves. It is quite possible that in a perspective, the mass media and social networks will become parts of a single environment which includes everything – from news to payment instruments services. This is essentially what the President said in his address – on the one hand setting a task to develop the Digital Kazakhstan programme, and on the other hand ordering to create a Cyber Shield for our country. For internet effaced the boundaries between states and this kind of freedom could also play a negative role.

 As it is known, meetings with ministers, heads of agencies and national companies are carried out within format of the Chief Editors Club. However, there is not much information about the meetings. Why?

We just provide brief information for information agencies, but overall such meetings, as a rule, are conducted behind closed doors. Our guests are enjoying a unique opportunity for unofficial dialogue with the management of mass media. This platform is valuable due to the fact that our guests can make their meaning perfectly plain when talking about many important issues, and probably they would not talk about such issues openly. This enables thorough understanding of the processes in the respective agencies and ministries more as well as the effect they have on the society. Chief editors, upon obtaining detailed information, can develop their editorial policies more surely and professionally.

Speaking about international experience, I can draw a parallel between your structure and the one which was created in Germany in the past .

Yes, absolutely, their experience is very interesting. Particularly, our related structure deals with and considers complaints against various publications in mass media. Let us begin with a fact that our colleagues assembled a community of professionals, where interests of journalists of the country are presented. And specific work with complaints ensure for them obtaining professional competences in the field of conflict settlement related to professional ethics and indirectly facilitating the formation of ethics itself.

The structure could be called a qualified critic, subject to private law, to which any citizen may publicly refer. It provides recommendations and establishes a common moral framework for journalists, whose work cannot be fully regulated by legislation.

In a majority of cases, our colleagues successfully act as a mediator between parties. In other situations they make editorial remarks, express their objection and in cases of serious violations of rules of opinion-based journalism, issue public condemnation. Within voluntary obligations, condemnations must be published by mass media to which the complaint was addressed. If recommendations are not followed and the case reaches a court, then legal system, as a rule, aligns herself with a structure and takes into account the collective opinion of professionals. This is why everyone realises – to resort to legal proceedsings is to make things worse.

This experience, in our opinion, is very interesting and was discussed at the meeting of Chief Editors Club. Moreover, we can say that the first step has already been made. Recently, we have developed the Code of Journalistic Ethics. Now, we have to make another step. The issue is under examination. I think such principle self-regulation of mass media could be very useful in terms of democratisation of Kazakhstan’s society.

Overall, every journalist when preparing their material, irrespective of genre and critical direction, must keep in mind that, first of all, he or she is a citizen of a country and their opinion, therefore, must be structured based on this fact.

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Armenia beats Kazakhstan 2:0 in qualification match for FIFA World Cup

Tue, 2017-03-28 00:22

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Armenia beat Kazakhstan 2:0 in Yerevan on March 26 in a qualification match for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Armenia was favoured to win, particularly since they were led by Manchester United’s outstanding midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Photo credit: sports.kz

Going into the match, Kazakhstan had few losses but was hampered by an injury to experienced defender Yuri Logvinenko. The Kazakh team’s usual goalie was also out and was replaced by national team veteran David Loria.

The Kazakh team played well in the first half, successfully defending repeated attacks on goal, including Mkhitaryan going one-on-one with the goalkeeper.  Mkhitaryan’s shot went past the goal. The Kazakhs responded with a good strike following a corner kick by Yerkebulan Tungyshbayev.

Early in the second half, Kazakhstan was more aggressive in its own attacks, but was not accurate. The Armenians took advantage of this. After one of the losses in midfield, they caught their opponents on a counterattack, which resulted in Kazakh defender Sergei Maliy being penalised in an attempt to stop breaking Mkhitaryan as the latter was gaining operational space. The referee penalised the Kazakh defender with a second yellow card and the visitors had to end the match in the minority. This basically decided the outcome. The Armenian team used the power play effectively, with Mkhitaryan and Aras Özbiliz earning their points.

Following the defeat in Yerevan, Kazakhstan remained at the bottom of their qualification Group E with only two points from five matches played so far.

In other matches of the group’s fifth round, Montenegro lost at home to Poland 1:2, while Romania and Denmark played a goalless draw.

In the group’s standings, Poland continues to lead with 13 points, followed by Denmark and Montenegro with seven points each. Romania and Armenia have six.

A direct ticket to the final stage of the FIFA World Cup due next year in Russia goes to the winner of the group, with the runner-up progressing to the play-offs.

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Strengthening economic diplomacy is Kazakh foreign ministry’s primary goal, says minister

Mon, 2017-03-27 23:45

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Kazakh Minister of Foreign Affairs Kairat Abdrakhmanov told a gathering of the country’s diplomats and high-level government officials March 27 that strengthening economic diplomacy in implementing the nation’s five institutional reforms connected to its third stage modernisation is the ministry’s primary mission.

“Strengthening of economic diplomacy is the principal task of the whole system of the foreign ministry and its missions abroad. An important practical step was the signing of a joint plan on promotion of Kazakhstan’s export, with an already indicated list of commodity items, targeted countries and work on the presentation of local products abroad, which was signed by me and the minister for investment and development. Now, we are preparing for the signing of a similar joint plan to attract investment,” he told the gathering, which included representatives of the Presidential Administration, the Prime Minister’s Office, Parliament, heads of other government bodies and executives from national companies.

Abdrakhmanov focused on the need to attract foreign investments, promote domestic goods for export, strengthen human resources potential and protect Kazakhstan’s interests internationally.

The meeting was also briefed on the ministry’s 2016 economic diplomacy efforts. The group was updated on joint efforts with the government’s economic ministries to establish mechanisms for interaction with other countries in investment and export, as well as about the activities of 115 intergovernmental commissions and 24 business councils with other countries. These efforts included preparing and implementing agreements between Kazakh and foreign business communities, as well as cooperating with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The discussion also touched upon continued efforts to establish the national system of official development assistance (ODA).    

Last year, the Kazakh MFA and its missions abroad helped organise more than 300 trade, economic and investment events and about 600 visits of foreign delegations to Kazakhstan and Kazakh economic delegations to foreign countries, according to information presented at the meeting.

These efforts helped increase foreign direct investment 27.3 percent in the first nine months of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.

Since 2005, the country has attracted more than $236 billion in foreign direct investment, mostly, as a result of the personal efforts of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and agreements reached at the highest levels, said Abdrakhmanov.

“Currently we have to implement the existing agreements, memorandums of understanding and contracts, as well as significantly expand the geography of export of Kazakh goods and ensure a steady flow of foreign direct investment in the framework, for example, of economy diversification and implementation of the industrialisation programme. In this regard, holding EXPO 2017 in Astana opens significant opportunities,” Abdrakhmanov emphasised.

He also discussed improving human resource management (HRM) based on principles of meritocracy, scheduled external rotation and increased training for Kazakh diplomats. The minister also stressed the need to increase professional requirements for diplomats and applicants for the diplomatic service and to adhere to human resource laws and Kazakhstan’s Ethical Code for civil servants.  

These measures would be taken to implement the first institutional reform aimed at creating a more professional state apparatus.

“Successful implementation of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy crucially depends on the employees’ level of skills and their professional readiness,” Abdrakhmanov said.

“The principle of meritocracy should be the main pattern of HRM. It is necessary to conduct planned and systematic work with the diplomatic service employees.”

Presently, about 400 employees of the foreign ministry are graduates of foreign universities and 55 are graduates of the Bolashak scholarship programme.

  

 

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Nazarbayev, UAE Prime Minister discuss cooperation in Dubai

Mon, 2017-03-27 23:17

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Emir of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum discussed bilateral cooperation, particularly trade, finance and investment, during a March 27 meeting in Dubai.

Photo credit: akorda.kz

Sheikh Al Maktoum welcomed the Kazakh President  and reaffirmed the countries’ deep friendship.

Nazarbayev said he was pleased to visit the UAE and also noted the close bilateral ties. He also praised the rapid growth of the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), the city of Dubai and other UAE achievements.

The Kazakh President highlighted the importance of exchanging financial asset management experience and establishing close ties between the DIFC and the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC).

The Emir of Dubai confirmed his readiness for such cooperation.

The Kazakh President thanked Sheikh Al Maktoum for helping develop and implement  Islamic financing.

Nazarbayev also noted the preparations for the EXPO 2017 international specialised exhibition were in their final stage and that the AIFC would use the expo facilities after the event. He also invited the Sheikh to participate in the EXPO 2017 opening ceremony in Astana.

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Zhambyl region officials improve infrastructure to facilitate tourism

Sat, 2017-03-25 05:31

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The Zhambyl region officials have begun to improve the area’s road infrastructure to better facilitate visitation of the region’s many historical and cultural landmarks.

“All these facilities are worthy of attracting tourists from all over the world to our region,” said head of the Golden Caravan tourist centre Albina Veimer.

Veimer is helping to initiate the road construction. She has called on local authorities to pay attention to the lack of transport infrastructure connected to the area’s attractions for many years.

“For example, Akyr-Tas is protected by the state and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is one of the most visited tourist sites,” she said.

Visitors come here to see the remains of an ancient mysterious structure of red stones, similar to those from which the Egyptian pyramids were built. There is no other such stone architectural structure in the territory of the Central Asian region. Pilgrims from the cities of Kazakhstan and other states come to nourish themselves with the energy of this sacred place. Many foreign scientists come to explore Akyr-Tas as well.

The management of the Monuments of Ancient Taraz reserve-museum have made improvements to increase the popularity of this attraction. However, the road to it was in terrible condition. The construction of road to the Zhambyl attractions is managed by the regional administration.

The construction of the road to Akyr-Tas was planned in 2012, but the construction was postponed for various reasons. The construction will cost 355.6 million tenge (US$1.1 million) and is expected to be completed in June.

The tourist complex is located in the Berikkar mountain canyon with unique fauna and flora and rare specimens of relic plants. The place is protected by the state.

The Zhambyl region will become one of the regions to welcome foreign tourists during the EXPO 2017 international exhibition.

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Karaganda to erect monument to Soviet rock legend Victor Tsoi

Sat, 2017-03-25 05:27

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The Karaganda administration in collaboration with the Er Nur & Nika public fund of Kazakh-Korean friendship plan to erect a monument to legend of Soviet-era rock music Viktor Tsoi on Olimpic Street. Competition for the best draft design of the monument was announced in early March, according to ekaraganda.kz.

Viktor Tsoi was a Soviet musician, singer and songwriter of Korean-Russian origin and is known as the leader of Kino post-punk band. His grandfather lived in Kazakhstan.

Tsoi is considered one of the pioneers of Soviet and Russian rock and has millions of fans across the countries of the former Soviet Union even today. Few musicians in the history of Russian music have been so popular or have had such impact on their genre as Tsoi and his rock band. He died in a car accident in 1990 at the age of only 28.

In 1988, Tsoi starred as the protagonist in Igla (“The Needle”) movie directed by Rashid Nugmanov and written by Aleksander Baranov and Bakhyt Kilibayev. The movie was produced in Kazakhstan by Kazakhfilm. The movie brings up social subjects and the Aral Sea disaster.

The monument will incorporate input from the public and the musician’s fans, said president of the public fund Ignatiy Te.

“We live and work in Karaganda, and here, at the Olympic Stadium, our enterprises and offices are located, our fund is here. We decided to make our second home to make our native and beloved city cleaner, more beautiful. Not for ourselves, but for our children. We hope that this place will become a favourite corner for Karaganda residents and all who will come to our city,” Te said.

Monuments, streets and walls devoted to Tsoi can be found in Russia, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine.

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Astana Opera performs two concerts honouring love and spring

Sat, 2017-03-25 05:22

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Astana Opera held two concerts, “Eshe raz o lyubvi” (“Once again about Love”) on March 14 and “Vesennie napevy” (“Spring Tunes”) March 17, to welcome spring.

“Once again about Love” featured lyrical music by classical and Kazakh composers, arias and duets from operas performed by the theatre’s leading soloists.

These included Nemorino aria from “L’elisir d’amore”(“The Elixir of Love”) opera by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti performed by tenor, Kazakhstan’s honoured worker and honoured artist of Tatarstan Nurlan Bekmukhambetov and many others.

Maestros of opera music and Kazakhstan’s honoured worker and baritone Talgat Mussabayev and Concertmaster, laureate of First President Fund of Kazakhstan Gaukhar Tasbergenova also performed.

“One can talk about love endlessly but when spring comes and the soul wakes bright feelings, one not only wants to talk but also sing about love. Love’s manifestation is multifaceted and we will try to show its entire guise including tragedies and dramas,” Tasbergenova shared.

“The concert’s every participant was successful at the most prestigious opera platforms. Now having gathered together, they present a true set of talents,” she noted.

A spectrum of their repertoire was varied – from big operas to chamber music, romances and songs from different composers, according to Tasbergenova.

Opera soloists, choir artists and the orchestra of the theatre performed at the theatre’s March 17 concert “Spring Tunes”.

For the first time, “Akku” kui (instrumental musical composition) made for the “Kyz Zhibek” film was performed at the theatre’s chamber hall. Balzhan Saparova, who plays flute, and Raushan Orazbayeva, who plays the kobyz national musical instrument, presented this composition.

“We made a decision to include various masterpieces of vocal and instrumental arts that reflect the theme of love and awakening of the spring into the concert’s programme,” concertmaster Raushan Beskembirova said.

The audience was offered compositions of Kazakh composers such as Eskendir Khasangaliyev, Yerkegali Rakhmadiyev and others.

The music of West European and Russian classics was also played; among them were ‘Vesennie vody’ (Spring waters) of Sergei Rakhmaninov and others.

 

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Stability and strong ethnic, religious relations key to unity, Kazakh supreme mufti says

Sat, 2017-03-25 05:17

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Kazakhstan is undertaking major political steps to strengthen the country’s position in the world and become an ever-better model of peace and friendship. The deep religious commitment of tolerant, generous people can help maintain harmony and mutual understanding between all of Kazakhstan’s people and, indeed, all people, Chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Kazakhstan (SAMK), Supreme Mufti Yerzhan Kazhy Malgazhyuly said in an exclusive interview with The Astana Times.

Photo credit: muftyat.kz

“Islam is a religion of peace and justice in the fullest sense of the words. It cultivates character this way. This means that we … should strive towards such lofty goals. Only virtue and good deeds can bring a person closer to the Creator,” he said.

Year of Religion and Historical Heritage

The SAMK declared 2016 the year of Religion and Historical Heritage, and throughout the year created publications and held religious and cultural events.

The year also helped highlight the roots of Islam in Kazakhstan and the place the religion can take in society through films, articles and essays on Kazakhstan’s religious and historical figures and seminars on religion today.

“The purpose of this initiative was to justify the worldview school and the Sharia-based madhhab [school of thought], which are intertwined with our national roots,” Malgazhyuly said. “We were engaged in the publication of historical treasures, the ordering of the legacies of our ancestors, the restoration and revival of religious treasures of historical value. Thus, we wanted to contribute to the further spiritual development of our country.”

In addition, the Spiritual Administration published the book “Treasured Values of Traditional Islam.” The book covers religious songs and works of Kazakh zhyrau (narrators), religious figures and scientists. A contest was held among akyns (traditional singers) who performed religious songs to mark the book’s publication, with the winner getting a new car.

“This book can be considered a good beginning on the path to the revival of historical consciousness,” the Supreme Mufti explained.

The Spiritual Administration published other historical and religious books and held conferences, seminars and roundtables on the theme of Islam and secular society in the regions, he continued. As UNESCO had declared 2016 the year of Khoja Ahmed Yassawi, whose mausoleum is in Turkestan, an international conference dedicated to Yassawi’s work was organised.

The Spiritual Administration intends to continue to do work to bring the nation’s significant religious and historical figures to light, Malgazhyuly said.

Cooperation among religious associations

“Allah Almighty created mankind by dividing them into different nationalities, and this is the grace of our Creator,” the Supreme Mufti explained. “The Holy Quran tells us: ‘…have made you nations and tribes so that you would recognise each other.’”

Kazakhstan is growing steadily and members of different nationalities and ethnic groups live peacefully and harmoniously, here, he pointed out. This should be supported by religion.

“Religion should strive to establish peace and justice in the state, in society; it educates a person towards this. The Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Kazakhstan also strives for such good goals, exalts the values of unity and harmony. Because, in the Holy Quran, the Most High commanded: ‘Do not separate.’ The Prophet Muhammad … urged the people to obey their Lord and not to spread discord. He ordered them to find mutual agreement,” the Supreme Mufti pointed out.

His organisation has established close ties with other faiths, he said. “The Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions … is a vivid example of the intention of the Kazakh people to strengthen unity and interreligious harmony. We are sure that the meeting of leaders of traditional religions has a fruitful impact on the development of interfaith relations,” he added.

Religious leaders’ role in building peace

The Supreme Mufti pointed out the expression, ‘In unity, there is prosperity.’

“To achieve such values, it is necessary to strengthen internal political stability and interethnic, inter-confessional relations,” he said. “Religious discord is causing clashes in some countries, where the blood of innocent people has been shed, children left orphans, women made widows.”

He praised Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s launching of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions to help end religious strife. The congress, he said, clearly expresses the peace-loving policy of Kazakhstan, and is a great opportunity, especially for Muslims, to stop the spread of Islamophobia.

Muslims from 27 nationalities and ethnic groups make up 70 percent of the population of Kazakhstan, the Supreme Mufti noted, and by contributing to unity and harmony in the country, they are a vivid example for their compatriots.

In this respect, the religious servants of the mosques also bear a great responsibility, the Supreme Mufti said.

“In strengthening unity and harmony between peoples and ethnic groups, inter-confessional mutual understanding has a very great influence.” True Muslims must not ridicule or insult each other, but seek harmony, as between brothers, he said.

“Thus, Islam is a powerful spiritual force that can positively influence the formation of a person’s worldview and character,” he pointed out. And a dialogue between Islam and other faiths helps support harmony – which is why Kazakhstan’s efforts to support multi-confessional conversations are so important.

 

 

 

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