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Kazakh government intends to take action to resolve problem loans

Sun, 2017-03-12 02:45

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

ASTANA – The Kazakh government is trying to relieve banks of non-performing loans by transferring bad debts from the National Bank of Kazakhstan, the country’s central bank, to the government. To put the necessary legal framework in place, the Senate, the upper house of Parliament, has approved the first reading of a new draft law.

The new bill is designed to improve civil and banking legislation and the business environment. Kazakh Justice Minister Marat Beketayev said Feb. 16 as he presented the draft law in Parliament, noting banking legislation improvement measures were outlined in President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s recent address to the nation. The measures will focus on restoring a healthy banking sector.

One of the measures ensures transferring the Problem Loans Fund from the National Bank to the government.

“Given that bankruptcy managers are interested in delaying the bankruptcy proceedings, the bill establishes the need to determine the maximum size of their remuneration by an authorised body. To improve the business environment, the law provides an opportunity for small and medium-sized businesses to enter into agreements with banks and insurance companies simultaneously and to open a VAT (value-added tax) account during an online registration,” said Beketayev.

The Problem Loans Fund was founded Jan. 11, 2012 with the main objective to implement measures aimed at improving the quality of the commercial banks’ loan portfolios in accordance with the requirements of normative legal acts. Its main activities include purchasing bad loans from commercial banks, managing its assets and issuing debt securities to finance its activities. Currently, the central bank is a shareholder and owner of the common shares, state property and privatisation committee under the finance ministry, which is also a shareholder and owner of preferred stocks.

In accordance with the legislation being updated, the financial regulator is clearing the bank’s balance sheet of bad loans to ensure the stability of the country’s financial system, said National Bank chairman Daniyar Akishev.

“Unfortunately, the problems of the banking sector, which were saved seven-eight years ago, have not been solved completely. In this regard, together with the government, all the calculations were made relating to bad loans in the banking system and the need to support additional liquidity of the financial institutions. We did all the necessary calculations together with the government and the Council on Economic Policy at a meeting of the National Commission on Economic Modernisation. The decision was made in regards to the amounts, which are now within the budget parametres. We believe that the bank’s financial rehabilitation measures will lead to an improvement of the financial system,” he said.

In February, central bank deputy chairperson Oleg Smolyakov said the government was planning to inject 2 trillion tenge (US$6.2 billion) into the state-owned Problem Loans Fund in order to buy bad assets from local banks.

Kazakh banks’ combined assets are estimated at $80 billion, of which a weighty share is related to construction sector loans, an area that has seen several property price crashes as a result of the energy price plunge. According to official data, borrowers have missed repayments on 12.2 percent of loans, although some analysts believe the total figure could be higher.

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S&P reaffirms RBK Bank’s rating

Sun, 2017-03-12 02:37

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

ASTANA – The Standard & Poor’s recently affirmed RBK Bank’s long-term and short-term counterparty credit ratings at the B-/C level, a press release of Bank RBK reported.

“Maintaining the rating at the same level under turbulent conditions in Kazakhstan’s banking market indicates a stable and high level of bank management and credibility to the strategy of shareholders and management,” the statement said.

In addition, the S&P information shows that probable outflow of deposits at a time when a volatile liquidity figure is the main factor of a rating outlook revision as negative. However, the S&P emphasises that no provision exists for potential outflow of deposits within the basic scenario.

RBK Bank’s development strategy for the near term implies funding owing to the expansion of the bank’s capital stock and not by the means of increasing the share of deposits.

In February, the bank announced increasing regulatory capital to 11 billion tenge (US$34.7 million), by 12 percent.

“Confirmation of credibility and participation from shareholders and the market is Vladimir Kim’s (the President of Kazakhmys Holding) intention to become a major participant of RBK Bank. As of present, his share amounts to 7.26 percent of the bank’s ordinary shares. In the nearest future, we will inform additionally on the dates of submission of documents to the National Bank of Kazakhstan for Vladimir Kim’s approval as the bank’s major member,” the press release from the bank states.

According to the press release, RBK Bank is a universal financial institution that has balanced indicators of development, sufficient capital, highly proficient portfolio of assets, liabilities and equity in the domestic banking market. It has demonstrated sustainable profitability for a long period of time.

The bank’s offices operate in Astana, Almaty, Aktau, Aktobe, Atyrau, Karaganda, Pavlodar, Ust Kamenogorsk, Shymkent, Semei and Ekibastuz.

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Young author from Kyzylorda creates more than 40 fairy tales

Sun, 2017-03-12 02:32

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

ASTANA – Altynai Berik is a fifth-grader from Kyzylorda whose name became known throughout the nation last year when President Nursultan Nazarbayev presented her with a book. The 10-year-old writer has been recognised as the youngest author and given a special award.

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“I create fairy tales by myself. They are especially good when I have inspiration. As soon as I write something, I immediately hasten to share it with my relatives, ask them for advice,” said Berik, according to Channel 1.

She started writing her own stories at age seven and the first audience was her family. They sent her first fairy tale, Ak Kozhek (White Hare), to Baldyrgan, a Kazakh language magazine for children distributed throughout the country. The story was picked by editors and published, which inspired the author to continue her work, said her grandmother, Sholpan Yespayeva, according to

“At first, Altynai began to draw animals; then she began writing a story for each of them and after, there were long stories. So, we realised that she has a talent. Sometimes I help her, give her advice. We hope that our granddaughter will be a famous writer in the future,” she said.

Although the storylines are inspired by everyday life, Berik’s main characters are animals. Her favourite fairy tales are Tuiye (Camel), Kyzyl Koraz (Red Cock) and Tauyk pen Kushik (Chicken and Puppy). Like all fairy tales, they show the struggle of good and bad and the importance of friendship and love.

Every story takes about three-seven days to write. The young author, who is also an excellent student, has composed nearly 40 stories.

The winner of many regional and national competitions, Berik was awarded the title “the youngest author.” One of her recent wins was at the Ush Baiterek contest and her works have appeared in several publications and magazines.

Berik wrote a letter to Nazarbayev last year congratulating him on Constitution Day. In response, the head of state presented her with the book “In the Heart of Eurasia.” The event was widely covered and the young author’s name reached many corners of the country.

As for her future, Berik dreams that her hobby will grow into becoming a writer or journalist.

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Kazakhstan prepares to export domestic gas to China in 2017

Sun, 2017-03-12 02:29

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

The Kazakh Ministry of Energy plans to start exporting domestic gas to China this year.

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At present, 18,000 kilometres of main and 30,000 kilometres of distribution gas pipelines have been built, which to date have transported 173 billion cubic metres of transit gas, including 35 billion cubic metres last year, and additional capacities of the Kazakhstan-China gas pipeline are being introduced.

The linear part of the Beineu-Bozoi-Shymkent gas pipeline has been built and about five billion cubic metres of gas have already been transported, including two billion cubic metres in 2016.

“The design capacity of the pipeline will be brought up to 10 billion cubic metres, which will allow the country to start exporting its gas to China if the relevant agreements are signed. In addition, the possibility of transit of Russian gas to China via the existing gas transportation system of Kazakhstan is being considered,” said Minister of Energy Kanat Bozumbayev at the ministry meeting on Feb. 20 on the results of 2016.

Speaking about those results, he noted the volume of gas production was 46.4 billion cubic metres, most of which was provided by deposits in the East Kazakhstan and Atyrau regions. Expectations for this year are to produce up to 48.1 billion cubic metres of gas, including up to 18 billion cubic metres at Karachaganak, up to 14.5 billion cubic metres at Tengiz and up to 3.1 billion cubic metres at Kashagan.

“In general, the gas industry has good development momentum. In 2016, we exceeded our planned production of both commercial and liquefied gas; in 2017, the production of marketable gas will be increased to 29 billion cubic metres and liquefied gas by 2.7 million tonnes,” he added.

During past three years, the consumption of liquefied gas has grown by 65 percent and gas sales for motorists’ needs have grown annually from 100,000 tonnes to 450,000 tonnes, said Bozumbayev.

“This is one of the current measures to replace the existing import dependence on foreign fuel. Gas is significantly cheaper than gasoline and solves many environmental problems,” he noted.

He also spoke about the stage-by-stage gasification of the country with natural gas. Taldykorgan will be gasified for the first time this year when the main gas pipeline is put into operation.

“Today, over eight million people have access to gas; in percentage terms, it is 46.3 percent of the population of our country. In 2016, 50 settlements of six regions were gasified: West Kazakhstan, Kostanai, Zhambyl, Mangistau, Aktobe and Kyzylorda. This year, we plan to gasify eight settlements in the relevant areas – this will affect about 72,000 people,” said Bozumbayev.

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To ensure security, Central Asian countries need to strengthen cooperation within region and beyond, scholar says

Sun, 2017-03-12 02:23

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

ASTANA – Central Asia is a historically important region comprised of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Mongolia, the north-western part of China and some regions of the Russian Federation are also designated as part of the Central Asian region. Geographically it is located between Europe and Asia, rapidly-developing China with a population of almost 1.5 billion, Middle Eastern countries and Russia. Therefore, stable development of the region is important not only for the Central Asian states, but for all Eurasian countries, said Ph.D. political science candidate Muratbek Uspanov in a March 6 interview with The Astana Times.

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“It is important to be aware of challenges that the Central Asian countries face. Thus, we can identify internal and external ones. Speaking about internal ones, we should note that the core of the region consists mainly of young independent countries formed after the collapse of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). They differ in social, economic and political development and have the following main features: insufficient social and economic level of development of states, lack of water resources, lack of access to the world’s oceans, immaturity of state institutions, and, as a consequence, some political instability,” he said.

Indicators of gross domestic product per capita in the Central Asian countries are low, he noted. While Kazakhstan has managed to achieve worldwide average figures, the situation is quite challenging in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

“These countries have developed weak economies. There are such problems as poor quality of healthcare, education, public services, high unemployment rate and low wages; the population has to migrate massively to more prosperous states in search of work. The economies of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are heavily dependent on external earnings from labour migrants,” he noted.

“The situation is somewhat better in Uzbekistan. The country in many respects has the same problems as its neighbours while additional pressure is exerted by the population statistics – there are more than 30 million people living there. Turkmenistan is significantly better off than these countries, but there is a strong dependence on the oil and gas industry, which provides the main export and budget revenue. In addition, citizens rely primarily on state support and benefits and as a result, the economy of Turkmenistan is quite inert and poorly represented by other sectors, except oil and gas. In this regard, Kazakhstan has the strongest economy in the region that is the most diversified and integrated into the world economic system. However, large territory with a low population density with uneven settlement creates high costs for economic development,” said Uspanov.

All Central Asian countries experience a shortage of water resources that creates tensions both within states and in relations with neighbouring states. Uspanov believes these problems might be solved in a constructive manner.

The states of the region gained independence only 25 years ago after the collapse of the USSR. Social disintegration and political instability fuelled ethnic conflicts, massive impoverishment of the population and even a civil war. Amid severe conditions, not all countries managed to pass smoothly through the period of formation, development and consolidation of state institutions.

“In recent years, Kyrgyzstan witnessed two revolutions that led to a change of power. Nevertheless, President Almazbek Atambayev calmed the situation, paving the way for legal change of the country’s leadership. In Tajikistan, the head of state, Emomali Rahmon, managed to relieve some tension; however, people still remember the Tajik civil war. Uzbekistan has recently suffered the loss of its long-standing leader Islam Karimov, who firmly defended the country against any threats. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who replaced Karimov, should adapt the country to the current situation, taking all the best from the former leader. The situation is similar in Turkmenistan, but its leader, Saparmurat Niyazov, died earlier in 2006,” he said.

“In Kazakhstan, President Nursultan Nazarbayev is not only the leader of the nation, but he is also one of the most authoritative world leaders. His ability to think for years to come, experience, personal qualities… have allowed him to carry out the necessary vital reforms, strengthening the economy and statehood of the country to unprecedented heights in history,” said Uspanov.

Modern challenges, however, pose new tasks. Therefore, Kazakhstan needs to preserve the dynamics of development and ensure smooth transfer of large powers and responsibility from the President to the government, Parliament, local government agencies and local self-government bodies, the scholar said.

Analysing external factors affecting regional dynamics, Uspanov believes threats and challenges are largely related to drug trafficking, international terrorism and religious extremism as well as to historical influence of world powers in the region.

“Drug trafficking creates risks for the Central Asian states. A huge flow of drugs from Afghanistan to Russia and Europe puts pressure on the institutions of power, on the health and welfare of the population and on its security. It is necessary to strengthen the fight against this phenomenon, coordinating efforts with all interested parties at the interstate level,” said Uspanov.

In recent years, international terrorism and religious extremism became particularly dangerous; hundreds of terrorist acts perpetrated in the world have killed innocent civilians, elderly people, women and children. The Central Asian states also experienced these attacks while Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have witnessed terrorist threats by extremists.

“The so-called emissaries propagate hateful ideas among the young people, giving false values and eventually involving some of them in the ranks of terrorists. Even the most powerful states cannot cope with this evil alone. Therefore, deep cooperation among the world countries, and particularly the Central Asian states, is necessary to fight this threat in effective ways,” he said.

“Speaking about the influence of states on the Central Asian region, we shall note the political and diplomatic confrontation that existed in the 19th century between Britain and Russia over Afghanistan and neighbouring territories in Central and South Asia. Now, we can point to the role of Russia, China and the U.S. pursuing a policy towards the region in their national interests. These interests largely coincide with the interests of the Central Asian countries and have a positive effect (investments, loans, technology, cultural cooperation, security, etc.) Therefore, the countries shall know how to benefit from the presence of major players,” he added.

Regional conflicts are triggered by territorial disputes, lack of water resources and interethnic disagreements, noted Uspanov. Although there are potential conflicts, the parties have reached constructive solutions to the problems in recent years.

“To ensure national security, the Central Asian countries should deepen interstate cooperation in key areas, not only between each other but also with other key states; ensure sustainable development of the economy; find new growth points and adapt the economy and political system to the modern fast-changing realities of the day taking into account the national specifics. Countries need to use the advantageous geographical location, become a transport hub of Eurasia, attract international investment, develop science, education and medicine, strengthen armed and law enforcement forces and pursue accurate cultural and religious policies. Realising these tasks, the countries will gain the necessary stability and competitiveness, which will significantly reduce any risks to national security,” said Uspanov.


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Kazakh President congratulates women on International Women’s Day

Thu, 2017-03-09 03:01

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

ASTANA – President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev congratulated March 7 the women of Kazakhstan on the upcoming International Women’s Day, noting the invaluable role of women in the development of Kazakhstan society.

“Today, women of Kazakhstan make a special contribution to the formation of our state. The representatives of the beautiful half of humanity are working tirelessly in various spheres of our economy, including public service, science, private sector, education and health. Fifty-five percent of civil servants in the country are women,” Nazarbayev said at a large meeting held in Akorda with women coming from different walks of life.

He also touched upon the state’s demographic policy, focusing on the issues of support and protection of motherhood and childhood.

“Upon my instructions, the implementation of the Family and Gender Policy Concept until 2030 begins this year. In July, the amount of childbirth allowances will be increased by 20 percent. The annual cost of financial support for maternity and childhood constitutes 160 billion tenge (US$506 million). Another 120 billion tenge (US$380 million) is paid to parents from the State Social Insurance Fund. In 10 years, we have achieved a reduction in maternal mortality by 3.7 times, children’s deaths decreased by 1.5 times,” the head of state said.

In addition, the Kazakh President singled outtasks to strengthen the country’s gender policy, notingthe first task is to strengthen the institution of a family. In this regard, Nazarbayev noted that every third marriage breaks up in Kazakhstan, in particular, due to the unpreparedness of the spouses for responsibility.

“There are half a million single-parent families in our country. It is necessary to take measures to address this problem,” Nazarbayev stressed.

At the same time, the President drew attention to the need to eradicate any manifestations of aggression against children and to provide employment for the younger generation by strengthening patriotic education in special circles and institutions.

“In addition, we can consider the possibility of holding an all-Kazakhstan Children’s Olympiad every four years under the supervision of Olympic champions. The next issue is that the average women’s income is still one-third lower than that of men. One of the reasons for this is the list of jobs approved by the government, on which the use of women’s labour is prohibited,” said Nazarbayev.

The head of state pointed out as next priorities of gender policy the need to create a comfortable environment for a mother and a child, as well as promote a culture of respect for motherhood.

“Perhaps, it is worth holding a nationwide open day for children. I hope that with your help, dear women, we will be able to implement all our plans,” the President noted.

Nazarbayev expressed confidence that it is women who will play a big role in the current political modernisation.

Participants of the meeting shared their achievements both in professional and daily activities.

At the end of the event, the head of state awarded the mother of many children Oksana Mukasheva with the “Altyn alka” (Golden Pendant) award and conducted a tour around the Akorda residence for the meeting participants.

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Astana Arlans secure third straight win of World Series of Boxing season

Thu, 2017-03-09 02:49

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

ASTANA – The Astana Arlans boxing club, part of the Astana Presidential Professional Sports Club, beat the China Dragons 5-0 in a March 4 World Series of Boxing (WSB)  contest in Atyrau.


Temirtas Zhussupov gained the first point by beating 23-year-old Chinese boxer He Junjun. The Kazakh fighter was faster and more precise than his opponent, and his win was doubtless.

Then 2014 Asian Games champion Ilyas Suleimenov increased Astana’s advantage, defeating Wang Long with some spectacular boxing.

The third bout decided the match. In the 64kg category, Kazakh boxer Dilmurat Mizhitov defeated Liu Yang by unanimous decision, thus bringing the hosts the third point and an overall victory in the match. In the fourth round, Mizhitov knocked down his opponent twice who still managed to continue the bout.

Saparbai Aidarov and Anton Pinchuk sealed wins in the remaining two bouts and an overall clear victory for the Astana Arlans.

The WSB is a league that sees the world’s best amateur boxers competing in teams without headgear and using the scoring system of the International Boxing Association (AIBA). Two times winners of the league, Astana ended last season in the top four. This season, the Astana Arlans are in the Pacific Group along with the Russia Patriots, Uzbek Tigers and China Dragons. The first two teams from the groups and two best-ranked third teams will reach the playoffs.

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Kango Jumping Park opens in Astana’s new Mega Silk Way Mall

Thu, 2017-03-09 00:27

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

ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s largest and newest mall, Mega Silk Way, had a technical opening March 6, as some stores are already operational and others are still under construction but will be ready by the March 23 official opening day. Kango Jumping Park, however, opened its doors for the technical opening, offering a tonne of fun and joy to all who step foot inside.

“I know about Kango Park from Almaty, but this one has more fun walls to climb and explore,” said guest Nurlan Kakenov. “There is also a jumping and trampoline place at the Astana Mall and we used to go there, but that one has only trampolines and is more for kids. This one, with these new walls, can be quite challenging and exciting even for adults. Just try jumping the tall tower or climb one of the poles; it certainly rushed my adrenaline.”

The capital’s park offers additional climbing walls and exciting three to four-metre jumping towers. Though the park’s administration is very friendly, at the same time they’re very strict when it comes to safety.

“We want to make sure that everyone has a great time at Kango in a safe environment. All of our equipment is tested regularly to ensure that everything meets our stringent requirements,” said the park’s administration. “Kango is synonymous with being active and we promote health and fitness through activities, all while having loads of fun. We do our best to provide an environment where everyone can harness their energy and spend it in the best possible way, enjoying the great variety of attractions we have to offer. There is nothing better than bonding with your loved ones by means of some healthy family entertainment.”

Kakenov appreciates that attention to safety.

“I had to change a few harnesses for different towers and walls and I was being strapped by different people all at the same time. It gives you confidence that people know what they’re doing and that gives the sense of being safe, which I liked as a father of three sons,” he said.

The administrators described the many events available at the park.

“Kango provides a multitude of exhilarating activities that present you with both physical and mental challenges. Leap and fly high with our professional trampolines, experience the demanding task of climbing up a difficult tower and strive to pass through our ninja obstacle course. These feats can only be accomplished by persistence and a strong, determined mind. Age is of little consequence and when you manage to succeed in whichever activity you chose here, you will experience a powerful sense of accomplishment,” they noted.

Kango also offers trampoline training, fitness and toddler programmes.

“Keeping fit has never been so easy or fun. During Kango fitness sessions, our instructors will take you through many different exercises and games and you will have so much fun that it won’t feel like a workout at all. The results will astonish you, as trampoline jumping is an extremely efficient way of burning fat while releasing positive endorphins to make you feel great,” said the staff.

Kango also allows night parties and corporate events and has a dodgeball league.

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Astana hosts Battle of the Bars competition

Thu, 2017-03-09 00:12

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

ASTANA – Battle of the Bars, the prestigious calisthenics tournament, was held March 5 in the capital’s Khan Shatyr shopping centre.

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Hosted in major cities and countries such as Chicago, Dubai, Kuwait, Los Angeles, Mexico and San Jose, the competition was the first organised in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and brought together 16 of the strongest athletes from Germany, Latvia, Malaysia, Russia and Ukraine.

The jury included World Calisthenics Organisation Vice President Kenneth Gallarzo and famous workout athletes Chris “Tatted Strength” Luera and Brendan Meyers from the U.S. and 2J Pantoja from Canada.

(L) Kenneth Gallarzo and Islam Badurgov. Photo credit:

Young Latvian athlete Daniels Laizans captured first place and two athletes from Russia, Yakov Voronov and Alexey Kobyakov, took second and third, respectively.

“I think the Battle of the Bars Kazakhstan was a great event. We had amazing athletes from Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Russia and Latvia. It brought a lot of strong individuals and it was a great opportunity to show the people of Kazakhstan what the human body is capable of. I think that it gets a lot of people, especially youth, interested in pull ups and push ups and they’ll start to become more active,” said Gallarzo in an interview for this story.

Daniels Laizans. Photo credit:

He added the workout movement’s challenges are mostly related to a passive way of living.

“We have become a society where we want things to come easy and we prefer to live in comfortable conditions. That’s why we need to learn to be healthy, to make efforts. There’s not a magic; you should put in some work. It takes about 20-30 minutes a day trying to be active and trying to get fit. I think we need to change this culture not only in Kazakhstan, but all over the world, and understand that everything is achieved by hard work and that includes keeping the body healthy,” he said.

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Gallarzo noted the tournament generated more interest than the Street Workout Championship held in 2014.

“I fell as though the event today has given people more the opportunity to see what the human body is capable of. Last time I was here, I felt like a lot of people who attended were more athletes. This time, there was lot more of the general population, so there’s more awareness of it and that’s amazing to see,” he said.

Although Kazakh athletes didn’t win, they gained the impulse to become stronger, said Kazakhstan Street Workout Federation Vice President Islam Badurgov.

“We considered that our athletes were the best, as we won first place at the World Championship in 2014. But it’s clear that the level of athletes around the world has increased in the past two years. The event was held at a very high level. If we compare this event with the world championship 2014 with the participation of athletes from 75 countries, today’s event just exceeded all expectations. The organisation was perfect. The audience really cheered, so that they did not want to leave. The support is the most important thing during such events. The athletes get adrenaline from the audience,” he said.

The federation was recently recognised by the National Olympic Committee.

“This sport is gaining greater momentum worldwide. If street workout would have been an Olympic sport or there would be federation or international organisations in some countries, workout would be the fastest growing movement. Our federation probably will be the first in the world to receive official status. Also, we have plans to create an international organisation for street workout in Kazakhstan,” said Badurgov.

The event was supported by the National Olympic Committee, the Ministry of Culture and Sports and the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan.

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Kazakh anticancer drugs waiting to prove treatment efficiency in humans

Thu, 2017-03-09 00:00

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

ASTANA – Professors from Al-Farabi Kazakh National University (KazNU) and experts at Kazakh Research Institute of Oncology and Radiology plan to conduct studies to prove the efficiency of domestically produced medications to treat cancer. They still need to determine whether or not the medications will be efficient in humans.

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“Professors have already spoken to us about conducting more studies on their anticancer drugs. At present, the medications have had preclinical studies conducted on them, which is culture testing of tumour cells and testing on animals. Testing on humans shall be the next phase. The studies are still at quite an early stage. It is also early to discuss the efficiency of these medications for now,” Dauren Adilbai, oncology doctor and deputy director at Kazakh Research Institute of Oncology and Radiology, said in an interview for this story.

The medications Alnusidin and Leikoefdin, developed in Almaty by KazNU professors Dmitry Korulkin and Kairolla Rakhimov, are made with mountain ephedra and grey alder and can reportedly treat any form of cancer, even advanced stages of the disease.

Most drugs used to treat patients at Kazakh Research Institute of Oncology and Radiology are foreign-made, according to

The new domestically produced medications have had a hard time finding their way onto the shelves of local pharmacies despite all the clinical trials conducted during many years and their claimed inexpensive price and good quality compared to similar foreign drugs.

One of the reasons is the drugs were not officially registered by Kazakh government authorities due to confusion between Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Health and the drugs’ developers. The developers claimed the ministry was not willing to register their products, while the governmental body denied that claim, saying they never received the application from the developers to register their medications, according to

Experts promise to assist in the mass introduction and use of the new drugs once their efficiency, safety and quality are proven.

“We are open to any medications developed by our scientists, chemists and physicists, conducting preclinical tests on animals along with them and then clinical trials. Only ten, five and sometimes even one or two of some 1,000 medications that have undergone preclinical testing get to a clinical trial stage. It is an international fact,” said Adilbai.

The doctor added radiation and chemotherapy are used for late stage three or four cancers. In most cases, surgery is the main treatment method during early stages of the disease and radiotherapy is an option in some cases as well.

“In case chemotherapy is needed this means the disease is in its late stage, when the cancer has spread to the blood. Unfortunately, surgical treatment cannot yet be replaced with anything nowadays. Any medication created is aimed for later stages of cancer. Most of our classical chemical medications are herbal, too, but that does not mean they are less harsh,” he added.

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Kazakhstan to increase agricultural exports 10 percent in 2017

Wed, 2017-03-08 23:52

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

ASTANA – The Ministry of Agriculture intends to increase exports 10 percent in 2017 over last year’s $2.1 billion total, First Vice Minister Kairat Aituganov recently announced.

“The export of agricultural products reached $2.1 billion, which is 5 percent higher in comparison with the results of 2015. The export of grain grew by 29 percent and reached 5.3 million tonnes, flour by 33 percent, vegetable oil by 20 percent, eggs by 47.6 percent,” Aituganov said.

He also highlighted that in 2016, the export of small cattle to Arab states started and said there has been an increase in the output of agricultural products in Kazakhstan.

“Livestock production output increased by 2.7 percent, meat by 3.2 percent, milk by 3.1 percent, eggs by 0.2 percent and an increase in the number of main species of animals and poultry by an average of 2 percent,” Aituganov reported.

To achieve the 10 percent increase in 2017, the vice minister said, “It is planned to create new approaches and approve road maps for potential export markets, first of all, China, Russia and the Persian Gulf countries.”

He also said that the Food Contract Corporation would contribute to agricultural exports.

The vice minister said that in 2017, 410 cooperatives will be created in the regions instead of planned 326. The cooperatives will provide services for a half a million small holdings and small farms over the next five years.

The Food Contract Corporation is a state operator on the grain market, managing national state reserves of grain and promoting the development of the grain industry. The corporation was established to ensure the food security of the country and development of the export of Kazakhstan grain.

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Healthcare minister reports positive trends in vaccinations, infant mortality

Wed, 2017-03-08 23:47

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

ASTANA – For the first time in the post-Soviet space, Kazakhstan has begun vaccinating children against pneumococcal infection, said Minister of Healthcare Yelzhan Birtanov at an expanded meeting of the board of the ministry dedicated to the results of 2016 and the tasks for 2017.

Minister of Healthcare Yelzhan Birtanov

“To date, two regions of the country are covered by this type of vaccination, it will be carried out throughout the country stage by stage. These measures alone will reduce the death rate of children by 20 percent,” said Birtanov.

He also noted that 2016 was significant for the entire healthcare sector. The state programme Densaulyk was launched, which is a logical continuation of previous state programmes.

“Life expectancy in 2016 was 72 years, which is six years more than in 2006. There is a positive trend in infant mortality, in 2016 that figure was 12.6 cases per 1,000 births, which is two times less than in 2006. In order to reduce maternal and infant mortality, the ministry successfully introduced an integrated model of rendering medical care to obstetric patients and childcare,” said Birtanov.

According to the minister, the taken measures have resulted in a stable decline in infant mortality rates. According to the Statistics Committee, the maternal mortality rate in the reporting year was 12.7 cases per 100,000 births, whereas in 2000 it was 48.0 cases per 100,000 births. In order to reduce mortality, the role and responsibility of specialised medical organisations responsible for coordination, monitoring and ensuring the effectiveness and quality of medical care at all levels has been strengthened.

In addition, much attention is paid to the implementation of the National Screening Programme. In 2016, more than 11 million screening surveys of target groups of adults and children were conducted in the country. The coverage rate of screening was increased by at least 90 percent as well as the detection rate of cases of diseases.

“Considering the fact that more than 40 percent of the population lives in rural areas, special attention is paid to increasing the availability of medical care to rural populations, especially to those living in remote and hard-to-reach regions. Transport medicine is developing, 49 mobile medical complexes, 40 medical rescue stations and three diagnostic trains are functioning,” stated Birtanov.

Priority attention is paid to the treatment of diseases most influencing the demographic situation in the country.

The country’s 23 medical organisations in seven regions are implementing the Disease Management Programme in pilot mode for arterial hypertension, diabetes mellitus and chronic heart failure. This programme is aimed at teaching patients healthy lifestyle habits that contribute to reducing the exacerbation of chronic diseases, emergency hospitalisations and increasing the joint responsibility of citizens for their health.

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Kazakh football season starts as Kairat beats Astana to claim Super Cup

Tue, 2017-03-07 05:59

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

ASTANA – The new football season kicked off in Kazakhstan March 4 at Almaty’s Central Stadium. The country’s two top teams of the last few seasons, Astana and Kairat, contested the Super Cup for the third year in a row.

Photo credit:

Some changes occurred in the teams’ line-ups during the off-season. Astana loaned Colombian Roger Cañas to Cypriot APOEL and Djordje Despotovic, Sergey Maly and Askhat Tagybergen, who played last year for Astana, will now defend Kostanai’s Tobol colours. Belarusian national team player Ivan Mayevsky and Albanian forward Azdren Llullaku, as well as Kazakh midfielders Roman Murtazayev and Didar Zhalmukan, arrived as promising replacements.

Kairat’s line-up remained almost the same as last year, but some positions were strengthened. The newcomers are the Kazakh national team’s defender Yeldos Akhmetov, who last season played for Pavlodar’s Irtysh, midfielder Georgy Zhukov from Russia and Ivo Ilecic, who has experience from Hamburger SV, of German Bundesliga’s top rosters. Thus, the Super Cup match allowed the chance to evaluate what the renewed line-ups of Kazakhstan’s two top teams would look like in the new season.

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Astana had a chance early in the match to take the lead. Junior Kabananga took advantage of the Kairat defence’s mistake and made a long-range shot, but it went wide. Kairat managed to make a move near the middle of the first half when former Arsenal striker Andrey Arshavin struck from outside the penalty area and the capital club’s goalkeeper and captain Nenad Eric deflected it to a corner. The hosts had more control of the ball closer to the end of the first half, aiming at the visitors’ goal more often. Arshavin made a couple of attempts and Isael created a few more chances for Kairat, which made the situation in the right wing area much tenser. This did not help the Almaty team, however, and at halftime the scoreboard showed zeroes.

After the break, the opponents became more active. Kairat possessed an advantage and attacked more often, but Astana defended well. The first strike to reach the net behind Eric came in the 65th minute, but was disallowed. Almaty, however, managed to score a bit later through Sesar Arzo appearing in the right place at the right time, following a cross from the left. The Spanish central defender scored the new season’s first goal, making it 1-0.

The goal forced Astana to turn more active. Murtazayev came out from the bench to help newcomer Zhalmukan. Kairat became more careful after the goal, afraid of losing such a shaky advantage. Stanimir Stoilov’s team was closest to scoring its own in the 90th minute when Mayevsky made a strong shot, but Kairat’s goalkeeper Vladimir Plotnikov saved his team from what seemed an inevitable goal.

After that, the two teams became even more active, but it was the hosts who scored again. Islambek Kuat made the score 2-0 in the stoppage time, putting an end to the match. Kairat won the Super Cup, gaining revenge from last season’s loss to Astana.

“Hats off to the fans of Kairat, who came to root for us in such weather. Before the match, I told the guys that we couldn’t let down those who came in such cold to cheer for us. We showed decent football and the result was good. As for the game, Astana took the initiative and we did not control the ball for the first 15 minutes, but then calmed down. In the second half, we recovered and created quite a lot of chances that could end in goals. At the end, when Astana attacked there was a key moment and Plotnikov saved the team. Our team deserved the win, more so the outcome is a natural one,” said Kairat’s head coach Kakhaber Tskhadadze at the post-match press conference.

“I think the two teams were equal and we allowed goals because of our own mistakes. The second goal was scored in a counterattack since we were losing and the players had no strength to go back. It is a bitter defeat, but I would like once again to congratulate Kairat on winning. We will have another chance to win,” said Eric on behalf of Astana.


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British leather goods with Kazakh soul

Tue, 2017-03-07 05:54

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

ASTANA – Aiman Sagatova, also known by her artistic nickname Vasya, created Kazakhsha Leather Art Studio almost three years ago in Aldershot, England. After working as an interpreter, the young artisan decided to make her hobby a full-time job.

“Most of my items are made of full grain vegetable tanned leather, which is the best material among other types of leathers. Working with this particular kind of leather, I use old techniques such as hand sewing and tooling. Almost every work, product and project I do has a hint of nomadic touch with a blend of Central Asia spirit and heritage of Sarmatian and Scythian ancient cultures,” notes her website,

Sagatova is not only an artisan, she is also a businesswoman, running her studio and coping with everything on her own. The studio is not only about creating, as she needs to multi-task orders to keep her business going. Sagatova has numerous responsibilities, such as customer calls, administrative work, promotion and working on new designs, she said in an interview for this story.

“For me, my art studio is both my business and way to express my creativity. It is my lifestyle. My work is shaped and scheduled around my leather art studio. It takes practically all my life. It supports me, pays my bills and supports my children. I think it is a unique situation when a person does what he wants and it pays his bills, because in real life sometimes people do what they don’t like. They do office work and absolutely hate it and back home they wish they could be someone else,” she said.

Sagatova has been living in the United Kingdom for 10 years. Speaking fluent English and Italian, she previously worked as an interpreter. She always had hobbies, but they never were on a full-time or professional level.

“I enjoyed my job. It was the right decision to go in that area, but at some point I felt that there was no more progression for me. There is always room for improvement in any profession, but I didn’t see myself working as an interpreter until the end of my life,” she said.

She has been doing crafts since age six, working not only with leather, but also with metal, wood, wool and silver. Three years ago she finally decided to launch her own studio, Kazakhsha, which literally means Kazakh.

“I am from Kazakhstan. It is my identity. I’m not promoting Kazakhstan. I don’t think the country needs promotion. The country is representing itself. I think that Kazakhsha is sort of a reminder for me where I am from, where my roots are. That’s it,” said Sagatova.

Kazakhsha Leather Art Studio produces items such as bags, wallets, clutches, passport covers and belts and Sagatova falls in love with every item she makes. Each piece is different and takes a different amount of time, such as a rifle case that needed two months.

She is inspired by various styles, techniques and themes.

“I like Kazakh motifs. I am familiar with them, they are native for me, but I have to accommodate different tastes and different clients. Some people ask for replicas of certain images; some ask for images of horses, Scandinavian patterns, Celtic patterns and others. It is not 100 percent Kazakh motifs,” she said.

Customers are not always familiar with Kazakhstan or Kazakh designs.

“Central Asia has still not been discovered for Europe. Some people don’t know where it is. Some people find something interesting and mesmerising in Kazakh patterns, but not everyone. People have different tastes, different backgrounds – cultural, economical. There are so many English girls who fall in love with the bracelets that I do with Kazakh patterns, but they are not really interested whether it is a Kazakh pattern or not,” she added.

Sagatova sells items through her website, which hosts an e-commerce platform. They are also available on Etsy, a popular online marketplace featuring handmade items.






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Ammunition plant to launch operations in Karaganda this year

Tue, 2017-03-07 05:49

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

ASTANA – Construction of the ammunition factory in Karaganda will be completed in December, according to Kazinform. Construction companies had difficulties with ground water, which caused a delay in construction.

“[Groundwater problems] required serious changes in the design of main plant building and its foundation,” said Director of the factory Dauren Arynov. “Now, all the problems have been solved and the plant is under construction in accordance with the schedule.”

The ammunition plant is being built within the Saryarka special economic zone. The planned capacity of the plant is 30 million pieces or ordnance per year. The plant will produce the most popular cartridges for the Kazakh Armed Forces: 5.45 x 39 mm, 7.62 x 54 mm, 9 x 18 mm, and 9 x 19 mm.

The project cost more than 20 billion tenge (US$63.3 million). The plant will use raw materials made in Kazakhstan. For example, it will use no less than 300 tonnes of brass alloy supplied by regional companies per year. Despite operating in the special economic zone, it will pay more than 680 million tenge (US$2.2 million) in taxes per year.

Starting this production will allow Kazakhstan to become a small arms ammunition-producing country in the long term. Currently, there is no production of small arms ammunition in the state. Current demand for cartridges by the Ministry of Defence is met by reserves created before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The new Kazakh cartridge factory will be equipped with advanced equipment for the production of ammunition supplied by Waterbury Farrel from Canada. Waterbury Farrel was established in 1851 and as of today is a world leader in the design and manufacture of high-performance equipment. It provides a broad range of innovative products with lifecycle support.

The plant is expected to create 164 jobs.



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Women’s contributions give Kazakhstan reason to celebrate

Tue, 2017-03-07 02:28

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

Foreign visitors, particularly from Europe and North America, are often surprised to find that Women’s Day is both a public holiday and national celebration in Kazakhstan. While they may be accustomed in their home country to March 8 being a day to highlight the long battle for women’s equality, here it is more like a cross between Valentine’s and Mothers’ Day – the chance to show appreciation to mothers, wives and girlfriends.

It is a tradition, now decades-old, shared by many other countries in our region. Families are brought together on what is a joyous occasion in the national calendar. Flower-sellers enjoy one of their busiest days of the year.

But while the focus over the next few days will be on family celebrations, this does not mean the roots of the day in the struggle for women’s rights, or why it is so important, is forgotten in Kazakhstan. In fact, the government has made dismantling the barriers which prevent women playing their full role in our economy and society a major priority.

There is, of course, good reason for this emphasis. In the knowledge-based economy, the countries that succeed will be those who harness the full potential of all their citizens. And failing to make the most of the talents and energy of an entire gender will make it very difficult for any nation to achieve its economic and social goals.

It is an area where our country can point to solid progress. It is not often, that Kazakhstan, despite all the achievements of the last 25 years, finds itself ahead of both the United States and Japan in a global index measuring social progress. They are, after all, two of the world’s most successful and prosperous nations. So, the report last year putting our country above these international leaders on gender equality received global coverage.

The Girls’ Opportunity Index from Save the Children, the international charity, put Kazakhstan in 30th place – two above the United States and five ahead of Japan. Kazakhstan scored particularly well because of the higher proportion of women in Parliament. Women now make up 27 percent of those in the lower house – a major improvement on the 10 percent only 10 years ago.

Progress in the economy has been even more impressive. A conference in Astana last month heard that 44 percent of the country’s small and medium sized businesses – the engines of growth – are now run by women. With targeted support from the government, which has made supporting and expanding the SME sector a national priority, and international organisations such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, we can expect this number and the jobs they support to increase.

Women are also moving into sectors, such as the energy industry, which have been the traditional preserve of men right across the world. With a big increase in recent years in female students taking degrees in engineering and other technical subjects – having long out-numbered men at the country’s universities – there will be many newly trained recruits in the years ahead.

But there is no room for complacency. There is plenty of scope for further improvements. For example, we also reported last month that there are still more than 200 occupations from which women are barred, largely because of out-dated regulations.

Ending such restrictions – while necessary – is not, however, the whole answer. It is also important to change the culture that puts in place informal barriers or fosters the belief that women should not be recruited or promoted. It may be done from the point of view that women are to be protected but the end result remains a damaging reduction in the pool of talent available.

This is not, of course, just a challenge for Kazakhstan but for all countries across the world. No nation has yet managed to produce a true level playing field which enables everyone, whatever their background or gender, to contribute fully to the success of their national economy and society.

The faster Kazakhstan can achieve this goal and provide genuine opportunity for all, the better for everyone, men as well as women. And that will be another reason for national celebrations.



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Kazakh Parliament approves dozens of amendments to Constitution

Tue, 2017-03-07 02:20

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

ASTANA – The bill “On introducing amendments and additions to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan” was approved March 6 in the second reading at a joint session of the Parliament chambers.

The day before, along with members of the Parliament, the draft amendments were discussed by representatives of the Constitutional Council, Prosecutor General’s Office, Supreme Court, Notarial Chamber, Academy of law enforcement agencies, Trade unions’ federation, Lawyers’ union, Forensic Centre of the Ministry of Justice and the Research institute of the Academy of Public Administration under the President of Kazakhstan. A number of non-governmental organisations also took part in the discussions. The legislation, as well as suggestions by the Mazhilis (lower house a Parliament) and Senate deputies, was considered by the joint commission of the Parliament chambers.

“The constitutional reform is, above all, about further development of democracy, strengthening the foundations of the rule of people, increasing the responsibility of the Parliament and the government, while maintaining a strong presidency,” said the Speaker of the Mazhilis Nurlan Nigmatulin, commenting on the amendments.

“The main essence of the proposed constitutional reform is the redistribution of powers between the branches of government. At the same time, the main objective of the reform is to make the executive branch most effective, responsible and responsive, as well as strengthen the controlling functions of the Parliament, while maintaining the presidential form of government. The proposed constitutional amendments correspond to the logic of the country’s and the society’s historical development,” deputy of the Mazhilis Nurlan Abdirov said at the session.

He also noted the bill submitted by the head of state includes 26 amendments to 19 articles of the Constitution. A considerable part of amendments raises the issues of redistributing the powers of the President, the Parliament and the government. These amendments are aimed at implementing the 100 Concrete Steps Plan of the Nation.

Previously, the bill had been passed in its first reading on March 3, after having been presented by the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, for consideration. The nationwide discussion of the amendments to the Constitution took place Jan.26 to Feb. 24.

On the same day, President Nazarbayev exercised his right to submit the draft law to the Constitutional Council for its review and consideration.

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Fitch confirms Samruk-Energy’s BB+ rating

Sat, 2017-03-04 03:02

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

ASTANA – International agency Fitch Rating has evaluated Kazakhstan’s Samruk-Energy long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) in foreign currency at the BB+ level and its prioritised unsecured rating foreign currency as BB, reported local sources. The IDR has been rated as stable, Fitch said in a statement.

“The confirmation of rating reflects the continued strong strategic and operational ties between companies and the governments and our expectation is that the company will refinance Eurobonds for $500 million, maturing in December this year, and the government will provide a timely financial support in case of insufficient inflow of funds,” it noted.

The rating agency believes Samruk-Energy’s liquidity at the end of 2016 depends largely on credit lines to fully cover future payments on Eurobonds. If the company is unable to obtain refinancing, it may possibly get a negative rating.

The company’s credit eligibility on a standalone basis remains weak due to the high debt load and a high currency risk, added Fitch.

Samruk-Energy is a joint-stock company established by resolution April 18, 2007 to develop and implement a long-term state policy on upgrading existing and introducing new generating facilities. The founders were Kazakhstan holding for managing state assets Samruk and KazTransGaz. The company’s main products are electricity and heat production, transmission and distribution of electricity and production of steam coal.

Samruk-Energy mainly targets the northern part of the Akmola region; Aktobe, East Kazakhstan, Karaganda, Kostanai, Pavlodar, North Kazakhstan regions and Astana; the southern part of the Almaty region; Zhambyl, Kyzylorda, South Kazakhstan regions and Almaty and the western area of the Mangistau region.

Fitch Rating is a global leader in financial information services with operations in more than 30 countries, according to its website.

“Fitch Group is comprised of Fitch Ratings, a global leader in credit ratings and research; Fitch Solutions, a leading provider of credit market data, analytical tools and risk services; BMI Research, an independent provider of country risk and industry analysis specialising in emerging and frontier markets and Fitch Learning, a preeminent training and professional development firm. With dual headquarters in London and New York, Fitch Group is majority owned by Hearst,” it states.

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Kazakh filmmaker’s latest project creates new wave of independent documentary culture

Sat, 2017-03-04 02:59

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

ASTANA – Young and ambitious filmmaker Kanat Beisekeyev released “Bala,” a film about Kazakh children adopted by American families, in late February. The documentary touches on a sensitive topic, but the author’s simple, understandable language and extraordinarily light narration leaves no one indifferent.

“I am extremely happy to present this film. It’s not just a film for me; I grew up together with this project. It’s about love, life and us. The film reflects our society. These children are a great lesson for all of us,” he told The Astana Times.

“Bala” tells the story of foster children adopted as infants. The production process took one year, with Beisekeyev working independently as producer and director.

“The hardest part of filmmaking was to find the leading characters. I found all of them on Facebook. I wrote to them and showed my previous works. They are living in different parts of the country and they have different accents and appearance. I do not want to reveal the negative moments in the film, because children live in a world where there is no evil at all. It was important for me to create a film full of kindness,” he said to the audience at a March 1 showing in the capital.  

“I filmed 11 stories, but only eight of them got in the final version. Each story, each destiny is a special one. These children do not know their biological parents, but in spite of everything, they love them and feel that they are both Kazakh and American. Their American parents gave them a beloved family, a job, a decent future. I had the task to show what sort of people they became and what they achieved,” he added.

The film is not a commercial one and is already available on YouTube.

“Film financing was collected via the crowdfunding platform. When people started to send money, it really inspired me. I made the first story in Philadelphia in 2015. Some families were sceptical about the project. Many people refused to take part in the project. Some of them didn’t want to communicate with the media and some families have refused to participate in the film after the shooting. I travelled from the east to the west coast while filming it. My task was essentially simple – to make a good documentary film. Even though I was working alone, the project was supported by a tremendous amount of people and I am thankful for all of them,” said Beisekeyev.

All the individuals know they are from Kazakhstan. They plan to visit their homeland and get acquainted with their biological mothers.

“I’m honest with all the characters. We immediately trust each other and I try to ask questions at an appropriate moment. This all comes from my experience of working as a photo reporter at the Vox Populi portal and my experience studying abroad. My amazing and interesting friends also have a great influence on me,” he said.

Beisekeyev intends to continue making documentary films.

“Some people offered to send the film to the festival, but I refused. How does this usually work? You made a film and send it to the festival, but there are a lot of festivals. You can send it to the festival and be proud of yourself. I would like to see more independent, non-profit projects that touch people. My film is not a documentary, but more like a story-telling. ‘Bala’ is not like my other films because there are a lot of experiments, a lot of new features. It was filmed on a simple camera,” he said.

A second film about adopted children who returned to Kazakhstan will be released this summer. It is currently in post-production.

“Bala,” released in English with Russian subtitles, is available at

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Constitutional reforms bill introduced to Parliament, passes first reading

Sat, 2017-03-04 02:53

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

ASTANA – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev introduced March 3 to a joint meeting of the chambers of the Parliament the bill “On introducing amendments and additions to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan (first reading).” The bill proposes amending 23 articles of the Basic Law, redistributing 35 presidential powers.

The new reforms keep the presidential form of government while strengthening the roles of the legislative and executive branches.

Speaking before members of Parliament, Nazarbayev highlighted the key factors and aspects of political reform provided by the draft amendments to the Constitution.

The President focused on the process of preparing the draft amendments, highlighting the openness and transparency of the discussion process.

“Upon my order, the draft was presented for nationwide discussion, which was held intensively for a month. Every single citizen had the opportunity to express his/her opinion. We all witnessed not only a large-scale discussion, but also a high-quality one,” he said.

Nazarbayev also presented the results of the working group’s activities, highlighting the ambiguous understanding of the amendments to Article 26 of the Constitution by some Kazakh citizens.

“The working group received 6,000 proposals that concern two thirds of the articles of the Constitution and all of its sections. The constitutional reform is aimed at consolidating our society. I, therefore, propose to leave Article 26 in its previous version. Given the public input, it could be argued that the bill is a consolidated position of the people of Kazakhstan. The people have spoken their mind and thus supported the modernisation of the government,” Nazarbayev said. Proposed amendments in Article 26 would have changed the wording on the protection of property rights from “citizens of Kazakhstan” to “everyone”, which caused wide discussions about the appropriateness of such step.

The President emphasised separate stages of the country’s political modernisation, highlighting the peculiarity of current reforms.

“First, the new law significantly strengthens the Parliament’s role in public affairs, including in the formation of the government. Second, the government becomes more independent, receiving the powers to directly manage the economy. Third, the constitutional basis of law enforcement and judicial systems will be modernised. The law lays the foundations for the activities of the Prosecutor General’s Office, providing the highest supervision over the observance of the rule of law and representation of state interests in court. Fourth, constitutional control will be strengthened. Fifth, guarantees of immutability of our independence, unitary status, territorial integrity and form of government are to be fixed at the constitutional level,” Nazarbayev stated.

The head of state noted the high professionalism of all branches of government, emphasising their ability to take responsibility and make decisions independently.

“The new challenges mentioned in my state-of-the-nation address lay particular responsibility on the legislative and executive bodies. I am sure the expansion of powers of the Parliament and the government will contribute to a more effective achievement of the objectives of the third modernisation of the economy,” the President said.

Nazarbayev also stressed that the county’s political reform and technological modernisation should begin simultaneously.

“Effective use of powers requires tireless daily work. Particularly important is the simultaneous beginning of political and technological improvements. They will mutually reinforce and complement each other,” he said.

In conclusion, Nazarbayev addressed the members of Parliament with a request to consider the bill.

Following the President’s speech, the head of the Presidential administration and head of the working group on the redistribution of powers between branches of government Adilbek Dzhaksybekov made a detailed presentation of the proposed amendments to the deputies of the Parliament.

Among other things, Dzhaksybekov highlighted that under the proposed reforms, the prime minister will submit nominees for the government to the head of state after consulting the Mazhilis (lower houseof the Parliament).

“An exception is made for the ministers of foreign affairs and defence, who will be appointed by the President alone. An important innovation is the norm, according to which the government will resign before the newly elected Mazhilis, not the newly elected President,” he said.

Dzhaksybekov also noted that the President would retain the right to impose moratoria on bills and to relieve the akims (mayors) of different levels of their duties.

The bill was passed in its first reading on the same day. A joint commission of members of the Mazhilis and the Senate was set up to prepare the bill for the second reading which is expected to take place on March 6.

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