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Short film by Kazakh director to be shown at Cannes Short Film Corner

Tue, 2017-02-28 03:57

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

ASTANA – The “UltiO” short film directed by promising filmmaker Dias Azimzhanov has been accepted to the Cannes Short Film Corner, according to the Bolashak Association website. The psychological drama with elements of mysticism describes complicated relations between spouses, parents and children.

Dias Azimzhanov

“Submitting the film to the Cannes Festival Short Film Corner gives the right to the production staff to show their work to the world film industry community and potential investors. We also have applied for the Cinefondation, where only scriptwriters and directors with academic cinematic education can participate. Selection results in this prestigious competition will be announced in mid-April,” Azimzhanov said.

Cinefondation is a foundation under the aegis of the Cannes Film Festival, created to inspire and support the next generation of international filmmakers. This year, the Short Film Corner will feature more than 2,000 short films from at least 100 countries worldwide.

“UltiO” brought together some of the world’s and Kazakhstan’s talents working in film production.

“The film production crew involved specialists from Kazakhstan, Russia and the U.S. as well as other talented filmmakers from Kazakhstan. Thus, famous composer Askar Shafi wrote the original music for the film. Approximately 45 people from all over the world created this film,” Azimzhanov emphasised.

Film producer and Bolashak alumnus Dauren Toleukhanov supported an idea initiated by novice director, screenwriter and editor Azimzhanov. Toleukhanov is known as a producer and one of the screenwriters for “Flags over Berlin,” a new movie to be released in 2017 that is telling about the heroism of Kazakh soldiers Rakhimzhan Koshkarbayev and Gregory Bulatov, who stormed Reichstag on April 30, 1945 as part of the Red Army’s 150th Infantry Division.

Bolashak scholarship holder Azimzhanov is now studying at the New York Film Academy. His debut picture “Moments of Enlightenment” won the Award of Recognition at the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival last year.

The 70th annual Cannes Film Festival will take place May 17 to 28. Organised by the Festival de Cannes, the Short Film Corner is the essential rendezvous for filmmakers. Since 2004, short film producers and directors have chosen the Short Film Corner as the place to present their films and make connections within the industry.


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Kazakhstan, Vietnam agree cargo transportation along key international route

Tue, 2017-02-28 03:44

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

ASTANA – The Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) national railway company and Vietnam Railways agreed Feb. 20 to cooperate in container transport along the Vietnam – China – Kazakhstan – Europe route.

Photo credit:

The agreement follows an earlier agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Vietnam to increase trade from $4 billion to $10 billion by 2020.

The decision was made during a meeting in Hanoi to discuss international transportation, which included KTZ head Kanat Alpysbayev, Vietnam Railways Chief Executive Officer Vu Ta Tung and Vietnam Minister of Transportation Truong Quang Nghia. Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Vietnam Beketzhan Zhumakhanov and representatives of the Food Corporation and Kazakh Association of Exporters of Agricultural Products also participated, according to the KTZ press service.

The group also discussed shipping agricultural products from the Kazakh to Vietnamese market as well as transporting tropical foods and seafood from Vietnam to Kazakhstan. They also spoke favourably of increasing agricultural shipments, which would help grow cargo traffic between Vietnam and Kazakhstan.

The Kazakh side also reported on the first pilot shipment of grain from the Kazakh-Chinese container terminal at the port of Lianyungang to the port of Ho Chi Minh. The pilot shipment was operated by a subsidiary of KTZ – the multimodal company KTZ Express – together with the Chinese-Kazakhstan international logistics company of Lianyungang city. The transport and logistics terminal at the port of Lianyungang is a joint venture of Port Lianyungang Ltd. and KTZ Express. Transportation of Kazakh goods using Lianyungang port contributes to the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative.

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At UNSC, Kazakh diplomats call for unimpeded food delivery to South Sudan

Tue, 2017-02-28 03:36

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

ASTANA – A Kazakh delegation to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) called for unimpeded access for humanitarian organisations to deliver food to South Sudan and offered recommendations to improve the UN peacekeeping mission there during a Feb. 23 regular UNSC session on the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

Council members were briefed on developments in South Sudan by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations El Ghassim Wane and Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour, who recently completed a mission to the country, including visiting Malakal.

The conflict in South Sudan has displaced 1.85 million internally and 1.3 million refugees have fled to neighbouring countries, including 450,000 since the July 2016 violence.

It has also contributed to the impact of a declared famine, which has resulted in malnutrition and 40 percent of the population, said council members. The Food and Agricultural Organisation, the UN Children’s Fund and the World Food Programme announced Feb. 20 that: “the total number of food insecure people is expected to rise to 5.5 million in South Sudan.”

Approximately one-third of the population requires emergency food assistance and the World Food Programme estimates that the “situation is expected to further deteriorate during the peak of the lean season from May to July 2017.”

In their statements, participants of the session were unanimous in the understanding that the conflict in South Sudan and its impacts can be resolved only through a political settlement based on the full implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement.

In early November 2016, the UN Secretariat established a taskforce, headed by Wane, to implement the recommendations of the report of the special investigation within three months. The assessment reportedly noted that UNMISS continues to face obstacles in carrying out its responsibilities. The freedom of movement of UNMISS personnel continues to be restricted by government forces.


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Kazakhstan’s commitment to UN remains strong after 25 years of membership

Tue, 2017-02-28 00:07

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

Twenty-five years ago was a time of major change in the United Nations. The break-up of the Soviet Union saw applications from new countries charting their own course in the world for the first time since the global organisation was created.

Kazakhstan was formally welcomed into the UN fold on March 2 along with eight other new members – its largest single expansion for thirty years. But while Kazakhstan’s admission may not have been a unique event, few countries, new or old, can match its commitment to the UN or its values in the years that have followed.

A sign of Kazakhstan’s serious intent was the appointment almost immediately of the country’s first ambassador to the UN followed by the decision to set up a permanent mission in New York. In turn, the UN opened its first office in Almaty in 1993, the start of a long association, which has seen the city become an important regional hub for the organisation’s work.

From the beginning, Kazakhstan took full advantage of the expertise and experience within the UN and its agencies. This openness to outside advice has been one of the defining characteristics of the country. The incorporation of UN treaties and universal standards into Kazakh legislation was also seen as driving social and economic progress.

But this engagement has, by no means, been one-way. Kazakhstan has worked tirelessly to turn its support for the UN into concrete actions to drive forward the common aims of global peace and co-operation. It was, for example, as early as in October 1992 that President Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed at the UN General Assembly setting up a new regional body to promote peace, security and stability in Asia and across the wider world. The Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building in Asia (CICA) met for the first time in 1999 and has grown steadily in the intervening years in both size and stature.

Drawing on its own tragic experience, too, Kazakhstan has led the international campaign against nuclear weapons. It is for example, at the country’s initiative that Aug 29 – the day that the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site was shut – is now marked officially by the UN as the International Day against Nuclear Tests. Keeping up the pressure for action on this threat to humanity, President Nazarbayev has appealed to UN members to work together to rid the world of nuclear weapons by the 100th anniversary of the organisation, by 2045.

Kazakhstan has similar steps in many other areas central to the goals and values of the UN. Through the Green Bridge programme and EXPO 2017, Kazakhstan has taken practical action to support sustainable development. To counter the threat from extremism and terrorism, the country has proposed both increased and coordinated action under the UN and acted itself to bridge rifts and promote common understanding through initiatives, such as the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.

The UN has also been involved and supportive of Kazakhstan’s increasing efforts to use its good offices to ease tensions and defuse conflicts. As in the case with the recent talks within what is now being called the Astana Process on Syria, in which the UN played its full part, Kazakhstan’s role as a trusted honest broker and a welcoming host can provide the conditions where parties can begin to find the common ground essential as a first step towards a lasting solution.

As Kazakhstan’s economy has grown, the country has accepted that increased wealth requires it to take increased responsibility for helping tackle global challenges. Kazakhstan is increasing its contribution to the UN’s invaluable peace-keeping efforts which currently has operations in 16 countries. KazAid, to take shape with the active support of the country’s international partners, will provide a focus for its international development assistance efforts.

The relationship between Kazakhstan and the UN has, of course, now entered a new and historic phrase. By becoming the first country from Central Asia to serve on the Security Council as a non-permanent member for 2017-2018, Kazakhstan has the perfect platform to step up its efforts to help the UN make progress on its important goals. This is a good reason for celebration for both Kazakhstan on this anniversary and the UN itself.

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Participants upbeat about EXPO 2017 preparation progress

Sat, 2017-02-25 04:33

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

ASTANA – The Kazakh capital brought together delegations from more than 100 countries Feb. 22-23 to touch base on the preparation progress for EXPO 2017, the international specialised exposition. The final participants’ meeting helped the national expo teams to address last-minute enquiries, dwell on details and agree on deadlines in the run-up to the three-month long exhibition that will take place June 10 through Sept. 10.

The Palace of Independence served as the venue where the parties had candid discussions. Expo commissioners held work meetings with local authorities and organisers, had their questions answered and demands met. On the second day of the visit, the delegations went to the construction site to check the progress and finalise the terms of pavilions use.

Vicente Loscertales, secretary general of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), believes the final meetings were fruitful.

“Explanations provided by the expo company and by the commissioner of the expo have been very clear and very practical. The participants have asked a large number of questions. Now after the meetings, they are very satisfied,” he said.

He also reminded the participants of the importance and significance of the upcoming event.

“Astana Expo is more than an expo. It is a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the independence of the country. It’s a vision of the future of the country and the region. Therefore, my wishes for the success of Astana expo are the wishes related to expo directly and what expo incarnates. I think that the Astana expo is very important. For Kazakhstan, for the region, for the world and for the world expos, this expo is crucial and very determinant,” Loscertales told The Astana Times.

Charles Hendry, commissioner of the UK national pavilion, saw a significant difference between this year’s meetings and those in 2016.

“Last year, there were a huge number of questions that simply weren’t ready to be answered. This year, there are very clear answers to the questions that have been raised, a very clear message that the authorities here are in charge; they’re taking the lead. So, there’s a lot of organisational progress that has been made.  We’re seeing the work which has actually been done on the ground. We’re all recognising it’s a tight deadline, but we’re going to be there on time. When Mr. President comes around on the 9th of June, the night before it all opens, he will be able to see that everything is done and ready,” he told The Astana Times.

Amid ongoing public concerns about government spending related to holding the exhibition, Hendry expressed hope that the Kazakh people can realise the importance of the event as one of the most significant opportunities for the young republic to be seen on the global stage and for other countries to understand what it has achieved, its ambitions and how it is going to deliver them.

“I know people often look at events like this and think ‘Oh, that’s an awful lot of money they’re spending.’ We had exactly that before the opening of the Olympics in London in 2012. The press was critical and they would try to find faults in many aspects of it. But once it started, everybody joined the celebration. It became, I think for all of us living in the UK, one of the happiest times we’ve ever lived through and it brought the whole country together. I hope that people here will find in expo something which will inspire, excite and change people’s lives. People will come to expo and think, ‘I really didn’t know that was possible.’ And that’s what I want to do. I want to be part of that and that would be a fantastic outcome,” he said.

The Netherlands, a strong proponent of sustainable development, was one of the first countries to support Kazakhstan in its initiative. Dutch pavilion national commissioner Hans Driesser is positive the upcoming expo will be a success. In the meantime, he is making sure preparation goes well and is inviting his friends to visit the country during the event.

“You give Kazakhstan a face, a name, an image. I really encourage a lot of my Dutch friends to come here for the holidays and see Kazakhstan. Technically and logistically it’s not easy to organise (an expo), but in the end, it pays off. I’m sure you will do it. Kazakhstan will be fine. Astana will do fine,” he said.

Driesser, who served as the Dutch Ambassador to Kazakhstan from 2013-2016, also shared his impressions of the host city where he once lived and which he came to love.

“Astana is a visible and tangible token of the vitality of the nation guided by Nursultan Nazarbayev. Astana is a good city to live. It’s clean. It’s secure. It’s safe. Everything is here – beautiful hotels, nice houses – so this is really a good place to live. And I’m also happy to see that for families with young children, Astana is getting a soul. That’s important for a new city,” he said.


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Pilot programme to teach Kazakh in Russian-language schools to launch in 2018

Sat, 2017-02-25 04:11

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

ASTANA – A pilot programme to teach the Kazakh language in Russian-language schools will launched in 2018, said Minister of Education and Science Yerlan Sagadiyev at a governmental meeting in late February.

Photo credit:

“Children in Russian-language schools do not speak Kazakh and this problem needs attention. A three-level communicative method based on a new scientific approach was developed. A pilot project is planned to be introduced in some schools in 2018. If it proves to be effective, it will be possible to present it in all schools,” said Sagadiyev.

The technique aims “to eliminate the mechanical memorisation of rules and translation of texts.”

“The most important thing for children is to speak the Kazakh language as soon as possible. The, mobile app for the study of the Kazakh language, will be also launched,” he said.

The unified testing at schools was also on the agenda.

“A new format of the final certification and unified national testing (UNT) are the most urgent issues. Writing and essays as new exam forms will be introduced as well as changes in the tests six months before the completion of the school. The final examination will be held from May 25 to June 9 and the UNT will be held from June 20 to July 1. Children experience enormous psychological stress as they have exams and tests in a one-month period,” said member of the Mazhilis (lower house of Parliament) Natalya Zhumadildayeva.

The minister said the structure and content of the test questions are designed to meet the requirements of their future profession. The UNT will be held several times a year.

“We should change our view regarding the test. The UNT has become much easier. This is a standard test that students regularly pass every year. It is just necessary to study hard and it will be possible to pass it without any pressure. We need to gradually change the UNT towards international standards,” the minister said.

“We should facilitate access to higher education and this is our philosophy. The UNT and the process of admission to universities become easy. It will be possible to pass the test at home. We are currently negotiating with the banks to provide online banking for testing. The online testing will be introduced in test mode,” he said.



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Constitutional reform: what can Kazakhstan learn from international experience?

Sat, 2017-02-25 04:04

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

President Nursultan Nazarbayev recently announced Kazakhstan will pursue constitutional reforms. The reforms will give more powers to the parliament and the government while the President will look after national security, defence and foreign policy and will serve as an arbiter. This model of government is referred to as a semi-presidential government, similar to that of France.

We will examine the experience of other countries that adopted the French model of government. There are 34 countries in the world that adopted variations of the French model, including Russia, Taiwan and Ukraine, among others.

We will answer six questions. What are the advantages of a semi-presidential model as against pure presidential and pure parliamentary models? How is the government formed? How is the government dismissed? How is the parliament dissolved? What are the limits of the Presidency? How should power be distributed between the Presidency and the Prime Minister / Cabinet / Parliament?

What are the advantages of a semi-presidential model? The main advantage of this model is that it ensures more government stability than parliamentary systems and more flexibility than presidential systems. This is so because when the President’s party controls a majority of seats the President appoints as prime minister a fellow party member, while when the President’s party fails to win a majority of parliamentary seats, the President appoints as prime minister the leader of the party that controls a parliamentary majority. Hence, the government has always a working parliamentary majority and does not experience the gridlock that presidential systems experience when the Presidency and the legislatures are controlled by different parties. Furthermore, one of the advantages of semi-presidential form of government is that in addition to preventing gridlock, it is in charge of some important policy areas, such as foreign affairs and acts decisively in time of national crises. In other words, under semi-presidentialism the president focuses on strategic issues while the prime minister and cabinet focus on domestic and day to day running of government. This leads to two or three horses pulling the wagon together to deal with complex matters of governance.

How is the government formed? There are three options on how the government is formed under a semi-presidential model. First, the President has exclusive authority to appoint the prime minister who will then appoint the Cabinet. In France, Article 23 of the 1958 constitution establishes that members of the parliament cannot simultaneously serve on the government or, to put it the other way around, cabinet ministers cannot simultaneously be members of parliament. Hence, if the prime minister selects a minister from among the members of parliament, the newly appointed minister has to give up his or her parliamentary seat. An organic law regulates how such members of parliament can be replaced.

Russia represents a second model of semi-presidentialism. The peculiarity of the Russian semi-presidential government is that the President nominates the prime minister while the parliament has the right to confirm or reject the nomination. The main advantage of the Russian model of semi-presidentialism is that by providing parliament with an opportunity to ratify or reject the prime minister indicated by the President, the prime minister and his or her government explicitly enjoy the confidence of a majority of parliamentarians and this could help preventing crises in executive-legislative relations, gridlocks and stalemates not only when the President’s party control the executive and the legislative branch of the government but also when different parties control different branches.

Austria and Ireland are formally, but not substantively semi-presidential because while the President in these countries is directly elected as in all the semi-presidential countries, the President simply performs a ceremonial function as head of state but lacks the substantive powers usually assigned to the Presidency in semi-presidential settings.

How is the government dismissed? There are two ways in which the government can be dismissed. One way in a semi-presidential system is through a motion/vote of no confidence. In France, for example, Article 50 of the constitution establishes that when the legislature approves a motion of no confidence, the prime minister is bound to hand in his (and his government’s) resignation and the President is bound to accept this resignation (Articles 8 and 50). In this case, the dismissal of the government is initiated by the legislature and effectively ratified by the President. In other cases, however, the dismissal of the government can be initiated either by the resignation of the prime minister or by a vote of no confidence in the parliament. Regardless of how it is initiated, the dismissal of the government is ratified by the President. There is a third group of semi-presidential countries, such as Gabon, in which the President either by his or her own initiative or as a result of a confidence/no confidence vote can dismiss a prime minister.

While giving parliaments the opportunity to hire and fire governments may be an effective way to solve conflicts between the executive and the legislative branch, it may create the conditions for excessive government instability and for a loss of government effectiveness. The solution, first introduced by German Basic law, is represented by the constructive vote of no confidence, which means that if the parliament wishes to dismiss a government, it needs to ensure that the perspective government will enjoy the support of a majority of legislators, so that the government formation process will not be too terribly time consuming and the government effectiveness will not be compromised.

Alternatively, and a better solution, there can be a constructive vote of no confidence in which the parliament appoints a replacement prime minister first before dismissing the current prime minister. Also, there can be a provision in the constitution that allows the government to voluntarily resign under certain conditions. For instance, these conditions include the following: when government fails to perform, when the government fails to act as a check on the President, when government exceeds / abuses its powers and when the president and government unable to work together. In Russia, two successive rounds of a vote of no confidence are grounds for government dismissal.

How is the parliament dismissed?  There are two possible options, both exercised by the President. The first is discretionary dismissal while the other is mandatory. Discretionary dismissal cannot provide credible checks and balances because a parliament constantly threatened with dismissal will not challenge the President. Grounds for discretionary dismissal need to be crafted carefully. First, it should be triggered by events, such as failure to pass a budget. Second, dismissal should be prohibited in times of emergency/war so as to avoid a power vacuum. Third, parliament should not be dismissed during a process of impeachment; otherwise the president would have incentive to do so. Fourth, there should be no dismissal shortly after an election when an opposition partly becomes the ruling party. Finally, the frequency of dismissing the parliament should be defined and limited, to no more than once during its term of office. The purpose of these rules is to stabilise the system.

How is the President restrained? There are several ways to restrain the President.. First, is through term limits. In Russia, there is a prohibition against two consecutive terms but there is no prohibition on total number of terms. In China, the President can have a maximum of two terms for a total of 10 years. They also have age limits. Another common restrain on the President is through the process of impeachment for high crimes. This usually requires a super majority vote to foil frivolous attempts to impeach the President.

Finally, there is the crucial question of how to divide the powers between the President and the prime minister and parliament? While President Nazarbayev has stipulated that the President will assume the roles for defence, foreign affairs and national security and as an arbiter while domestic policy is transferred to government and parliament, there remains important questions in the separation of powers. First, to what extent can the President issue Presidential decrees? The proposed constitutional amendments will eliminate the possibility of adopting the Presidential decrees that have the force of law. President Nazarbayev in his address to the people of Kazakhstan stated that legislative powers were granted to the President in difficult times of early state-building and now this norm has lost its relevance.

Likewise, who has the residual powers in government (undefined powers) – the President, parliament or prime minister? Too much residual powers by the President will weaken the law-making powers of the parliament. Should the President’s residual powers be confined to the areas of/under its competence? Similarly, can the prime minister issue executive orders to give it enough authority to effectively govern and not be stymied by parliament? Or should the President counter-sign, like they do in France? Should the president still preside over cabinet meetings to set the directions of government? How much veto powers should the government have – line / amendatory powers with override by super majority or line / amendatory override by legislative majority or straight up and down veto with override by supermajority?

Kazakhstan is at an important point of its young history. Changing the constitution would have long term and very important consequences for the country. Asking these questions and learning from the experience of others is a necessary step to ensuring that appropriate constitutional choices are made.


Eduardo Araral is Vice Dean of Research at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and also visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Public Policy Nazarbayev University. Riccardo Pelizzo, Aziz Burkhanov and Serik Orazgaliyev are all faculty members of the Graduate School of Public Policy Nazarbayev University. The views expressed in this article are their personal views alone.

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Kazakh officer awarded UN medal for peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire

Fri, 2017-02-24 00:14

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

ASTANA – Kazakh Armed Forces Captain Assylkhan Amangaliuly recently received the United Nations Medal for impeccable and exemplary fulfilment of requirements for military observers for a peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire.

Photo caption: Ministry of Defence

Amangaliuly served for one year as a member of a mission monitoring the border with the Republic of Mali. He helped monitor illegal border crossings by illegal armed groups, identify drugs, psychotropic substances, weapons and ammunition, explosives and their components and the movements of refugees returning to their country after post-conflict developments.

The peacekeeping operation is essential to fulfil Kazakhstan’s international obligations, promote its military-political positions and establish its role in the international arena, the country’s Ministry of Defence believes.

Kazakh peacekeepers are trained to international standards. A special peacekeeping operations training centre has been established, where officers with UN missions experience share their knowledge and train colleagues. The United Nations has praised the level of training of Kazakh peacekeeping units, marking the contributions of Kazakh officers to the UN’s operations.

Four officers of Kazakhstan’s armed forces are currently serving in UN peacekeeping missions. They are participating as military observers in a mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO). Since July 2014, 11 Kazakh officers have served in United Nations peacekeeping operations as military observers in Western Sahara and Côte d’Ivoire.

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New comedy film from Kazakh director tells simple story of difficult relationship

Fri, 2017-02-24 00:09

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

ASTANA – “Kelinka Tozhe Chelovek” (“Daughter-in-law is a Human, too”), a small budget comedy from Kazakh director Askar Uzabayev, was scheduled for a Feb. 23 release.

The film tells the story of the tense relationship between wicked mother-in-law Maira and daughter-in-law Aizhan living under one roof. There is very likely only one way to solve their family issues and improve their relationship. Aizhan and Maira literally switch bodies after Aizhan drinks from an old teapot she received as a gift from an enigmatic clerk at an antique shop.

“When we were in one of the venues with Askar, I told him I liked the idea of kelinka and eneshka (mother-in-law). He replied that there was a script almost complete and that I could read it,” said the film’s actress and general producer Assel Sadvakassova, according to Tengrinews.

Uzabayev, however, was working on his own at a time and did not wish to talk about teamwork.

“When I finished reading it, I really liked it and I began to ‘work on it’ so that we could make this project together,” she added.

Uzabayev and Sadvakassova served as co-producers and the former, along with Sabit Rakhimbayev, Auez Auezov and Azamat Kaunev, wrote the script. The film stars Sadvakassova, Danagul Temirsultanova, Daniyar Alshinov, Abunasyr Serikov and Amina Malgazhdar.

A movie about family values always was and will be of interest, said Uzabayev.

“Our film happened to be about a relationship between a mother and a daughter-in-law and their adversarial position. We wanted to laugh at it all and make a satirically interesting film. In theory, this topic will never be old. But we will close the topic about ‘kelin’ with this film, because there are many other topics in the Kazakh film scene that were not opened up yet,” he noted.

He added an idea to make a movie about feminists in Kazakhstan emerged during a press conference. It was intentionally made with a small budget and, in fact, with a low budget.

“We wanted to prove that one can make a good film based on its screenplay, acting and fullness without spending some hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars on it. And it can teach completely different big-budget films a thing or two,” said Sadvakassova.

Despite its comedy genre and many laughable moments, the movie is quite insightful and even drives some viewers to tears.

“Many topics are opened up in this film; creators tell about other family values amidst the relationship of a daughter and a mother-in-law. The entire time I was laughing, standing by, criticising and was emotionally involved with the characters. I even shed a tear a little during some moments.  I am very impressed, although honestly I am quite hard to please,” said Almaty resident Baglan Iteshov.

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Ust-Kamenogorsk hairstylist wins international competition in Paris

Fri, 2017-02-24 00:03

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

ASTANA – Ust-Kamenogorsk hairstylist Vladimir Dubinin recently won the Haute Coiffure Française (HCF) Trophy 2017, which is an annual international hairdressing competition in Paris. The competition has allowed him to receive international recognition.

“Almost 100 hairdressers from 23 different countries are pitting their talents, cutting, dyeing and styling fully unfettered fashions, presented as a before/after transformation. After carefully short-listing the candidates’ photos a few weeks ahead of the event, the panel of professionals from the trade press and the world of hairdressing assessed the 10 finalists,” said the HCF website.

Even though Dubinin has been living in Moscow for the last decade, he represented Kazakhstan in the competition.

“Many people ask why I represented Kazakhstan. The answer is simple. I am a citizen of Kazakhstan, I love my country, my hometown is Ust-Kamenogorsk and I was honoured to represent my republic in such a prestigious competition,” said Dubinin, according to

At this year’s competition, he presented an unusual hairstyle, which impressed the jury panel.

“Unearthly, causing the association with the cosmic expanses and representatives of an unknown civilization. Goddess of the Universe. I wanted to create something new that goes beyond the standard of reality, space. Some ideas were inspired by scarification modification on the body,” said Dubinin.

Winning the HCF Trophy means moving up in the international hair dressing world and next year Dubinin will be one of the jury members. Also, he will create his own collection of hair styles for L’Oréal Professional. At the moment, he continues to work in Moscow with a client base of famous TV presenters and actresses.

According to online sources, he has a degree as an economist-auditor but has never actually used his diploma. He started his career in the beauty industry in his hometown, before deciding to move to Russia in 2007.

Even though he has a successful career there, he is thinking about returning to Kazakhstan.

“I’ve had preliminary talks with the representatives of a well-known French company to open a division in Ust-Kamenogorsk directly, without intermediaries. This is what I dream about, but I need support on-site. We are not talking about financial assistance, but about support of state structures,” said Dubinin.

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Marriott’s top chef brings new flavours to Astana

Thu, 2017-02-23 04:23

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

ASTANA – Executive Chef Hery Sudarmanto has introduced a multi-cuisine concept to the Astana Marriott restaurants. His extensive work experience in the Middle Eastern countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, the Maldives and Indonesia enabled him to bring a taste of Asia to French-inspired menu.

Hery Sudarmanto

“Apart from cooking, travelling is one of my biggest passions. At first, I was not sure if I could handle the cold climate here. Slowly after almost three years, I’ve been living in Astana for three years and I feel comfortable. It is a nice and clean city and that’s why I like it. Working here is also an amazing experience. Kazakh people are warm and friendly. We have a good atmosphere in our workplace. We always help and support each other like family,” Sudarmanto said in a recent interview with The Astana Times.

A native of Southeast Asia Sudarmanto teaches the staff the art of Asian and modern cuisines.

“Being a head chef was my dream and I am delighted to reach it. This is a little more challenging as there is more responsibility. At the same time, I can experiment with different recipes. I can drive my team and create special things for our guests,” he said.

Sautéed frog legs green pea coulis as appetizer and black cod fish with sautéed romaine lettuce, confit potato and pepper coulis as the main course are specifically recommended for food enthusiasts at the Aroma restaurant.

“We have three restaurants at the hotel. We offer modern approach in cooking at the Vista Restaurant and Bar, European cuisine and a few Kazakh traditional dishes at the Aroma restaurant and lobby bar,” he said.

Influenced by his European friends and living in Arab countries, Sudarmanto considers his cooking style to be multi-cuisine. The chef’s signature dish is a lamb rack with roasted vegetables, honey and mint sauce at the Aroma restaurant.

“I was interested in cooking since 10. I helped my mother to prepare daily food for our family. Then it became a passion as I found it really interesting. One of my friends who worked with me in eastern countries motivated me to begin a professional chef career. Now I am pleased to share my experience and vision with my team and help them to grow as professionals,” he said.

Adapting to Kazakh dining culture was an exciting experience too, said Sudarmanto.

“I tried many local dishes including lagman (noodles with meat and vegetables), plov (rice with meat), and manti (meat with dough). It was actually something new for me. We make some dishes from Kazakh cuisine for the events in our restaurants and banqueting. I was interested how to make various food and now I can make even beshbarmak,” he said.

The Astana Marriott team is currently creating a menu for the warm season with a focus on local products including beef, duck and seasonal vegetables.

“We’d like to add lemon grass and leaves from Asian cuisine in our meals. We are also preparing banquet menu with different kinds of meal plan programme for in-house events or outside catering for EXPO. This is an important event for us too and I would like to bring French style cooking with my own experience of multi-cuisine,” he said.

A great selection of the finest international dishes makes Astana Marriott a widely popular brunch destination in the capital. It is held every third Sunday of each month from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. It costs 10,900 tenge (US$34) or unlimited wine option 14,900 tenge (US$46) and 5,450 tenge (US$17) for children aged 7-12. Children under 6 are allowed for free.

“We always bring something new for the brunch offering Asian, American, Italian dishes and a unique selection of wine,” said Sudarmanto. “Sometimes it’s a challenge to book a table for brunch. You should book two weeks in advance as many know that our brunch is the best in Astana. And this is really inspiring for all our team.”

The article has been posted for publicity.

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UCMAS School in Kazakhstan extends mental math to children with visual impairments

Wed, 2017-02-22 22:35

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

ASTANA – UCMAS (Universal Concepts of Mental Arithmetic Systems) Mental Math School keeps revealing stunning results of children’s cognitive abilities. Kazakh students demonstrate their brain skills to an international audience, multiplying any four-digit numbers within a few seconds. The school’s teaching strategy helps to unveil children’s hidden gifts and talents, said regional director Lyazzat Shamenova in an interview with The Astana Times.

“The UCMAS school teaching strategy aims at developing both hemispheres of the brain. According to the theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance, a person or child who is ‘left-brained’ is believed to be more logical and analytical, while a ‘right-brained’ person is more thoughtful, intuitive and creative. All UCMAS school centres use one technique, which is being updated every four years. In addition, we are now cooperating with Lomonosov Moscow State University to enhance an intellectual development methodology. In this regard, we do not focus only on mental arithmetic skills, but rather take a comprehensive approach in education,” she said.

The founders of the Kazakh school recently joined Assyl Bala, a union of businesspersons in different charitable activities. Every businessperson promotes his or her own social project within the association.

“The UCMAS School organises free lessons for children with cerebral palsy and children with impaired vision and hearing. Over a year, we have taught our young students at Ostrovsky Special Boarding School for Blind and Visually Impaired Children in Almaty. It is very difficult and delicate work. Now, we are witnessing a positive trend in children’s development. One of the boarding school students began drawing colourful pictures. It is so amazing! In the near future, the association plans to purchase Braille equipment to print special books for the children,” said Shamenova.

The education centre also has a social group at each branch throughout the country, allowing talented children from underprivileged families to attend classes without charge. Approximately 400 children are involved in the groups.

The company website describes UCMAS as an international educational organisation globally recognised as a leader in whole brain development and mental arithmetic training. Founded by Dr. Dino Wong in Malaysia in 1993, the UCMAS Education Group has trained more than one million children in mental math schools around the world. UCMAS has gained in popularity and operates more than 5,500 centres in 57 countries, including Australia, Canada, China, India, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Mental math is the ability to calculate and get a correct answer without using pencil and paper or any electronic device. Mental arithmetic is a method of calculation performed on a virtual image of an abacus. The abacus is merely a tool, but through regular practice children are able to visualise and internalise its image in their minds. Moreover, when children learn mental math skills, they are actually acquiring an astonishing calculation speed, developing such mental abilities as concentration, observation, visualisation, imagination and memory.


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Kazakhstan launches first ODA project in Afghanistan, with support from UNDP and Japan

Wed, 2017-02-22 22:25

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

ASTANA – A Kazakh delegation presented the country’s first official development assistance (ODA) project to the Afghan government Feb.12-17 in Kabul.

The project seeks to strengthen the economic independence of Afghan women by providing education from Kazakhstan’s top educational institutions in public administration and health care, maternal and child health and other topics. The initiative is being funded by the UNDP and Japan.

Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs of Afghanistan Wardak Spoghmai, who met with members of the Kazakh delegation, said a lack of experienced professionals contributes to Afghanistan’s development challenges and said the Afghan Ministry of Health supports Kazakhstan’s project.

The stabilisation and restoration of Afghanistan is one Kazakhstan’s priorities as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. In December 2014, Kazakhstan for the first time adopted the law “On official development assistance.”

Director of Foreign Economic Policy Department of the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs Olzhas Issabekov said “the efforts to develop human capital are the most justified ones. It stipulates the competence of decisions and reforms.” In his words, this project is a distinct addition to Kazakhstan’s initiative to train 1,000 Afghan students in the universities of Kazakhstan until 2020.

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe agreed in 2015 that Japan would fund the project.

Members of the delegation to Kabul included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Science and the Agency for Civil Service Affairs and Anti-Corruption. The delegation also included a representative of the United Nations Development Programme office (UNDP) in Kazakhstan.

While in Kabul, the delegation also met with Deputy Minister of Finance of Afghanistan Mohammad Mustafa Mastoor, Deputy Minister of Health Jan Naim Ahmad, as well as with the heads of the UNDP country offices and the United Nations Population Fund in Afghanistan (UNFPA).

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Kokshetau: the area of blue lakes

Wed, 2017-02-22 22:13

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

ASTANA – Kokshetau is one of the most beautiful cities in Kazakhstan. The administrative centre of the Akmola region, it has a population almost 160,000 and territory of 42,700 hectares. The city is located among 14 beautiful lakes and mountains covered with dense coniferous forests.

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Burabai National Park is one of Kokshetau’s major sights. Borovoe Lake is the most significant among its lakes and distinguished by its size. Located 70 kilometres from the city, the lake is extremely popular among local and foreign tourists.

Kokshetau National Park, established in 1996, is situated 60 kilometres to the southwest of the city. The Zerenda, Shalkara, Imantau and Saumalkol lakes can be found there with a number of pedestrian and horse routes.

The areas have excellent accommodations with numerous hotels, sanatoria and rest houses constructed on the coasts. The soft mountain climate, clean air and curative dirt make rest here not only pleasant but also useful for one’s health.

Kokshetau is translated from Kazakh as Blue Mountain and the phrase completely corresponds to the city. The Blue Mountain (Kokshe Tau) is the highest peak in the Kokshe Mountains, reaching 947 metres. Many songs, poems and legends about the beauty of the area have been passed from one generation to another. Locals gave the place a variety of names: the Area of Blue Lakes, Kazakh Pearl and the Area of Blue Mountains.

The city was established on the bank of Bukpa Lake in 1824 as a fortress. In 1868, it became a regional centre. During the late 1930s, many residents of other Soviet Union republics were forcibly settled in the region as a result of the political repressions against ethnic Polish and German communities. Kokshetau became the centre of the Polish diaspora in Kazakhstan and on March 16, 1944 was named the Kokshetau region’s administrative centre.

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The years of the Second World War were a great challenge for the small city, as natives were heroically fighting at the battlefronts. Kokshetau produced 23 Heroes of the Soviet Union, with four fighters becoming full Cavaliers of the Orders of Glory. The city’s industrial enterprises were readjusted for military purposes.

The 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, were hard times not only for Kokshetau, but for the whole nation. The new sovereign state faced many challenges in the transition period, causing a long economic crisis.

Today, the city has a delightful appearance with clean streets, roads, stations, palaces, parks and squares promoting its modern image. Kokshetau is an urban area of youth and students with 10 higher educational institutions, 12 colleges, six lyceums and 20 schools. The city has museums, a cinema, an airport and a railroad station. Kokshetau is gaining its own unique image of a contemporary city striving to become a centre for international tourism.

Ananyn Ak Tilegi (Mother’s Blessing), a sculptural composition created in 2001, has become a major sightseeing attraction. The figure symbolises the image of a woman who meets and sends off her children, giving them her blessing. The bronze sculpture measures 14 metres.

The Kazakh musical drama theatre adorns the central part of the city with its bright colours and unique architecture. Kazakh national design not repeated elsewhere in the country distinguishes the building.

Kokshetau has a beautiful old mosque named after Nauan Khazret constructed in the 19th century and a Russian Orthodox Church temple of Archangel Michael. In 2004, a Roman Catholic Church was built in Gothic style using red bricks.

Guides advise staying at the Kokshetau, Zhekebatyr or Dostyk hotels, all of which have modern rooms, saunas, swimming pools, bars and cafes, cosy restaurants and parking facilities.


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BIE officials, EXPO 2017 organisers and commissioners meet in Astana

Wed, 2017-02-22 22:00

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

ASTANA – The Kazakh capital hosted Feb. 22-23 the EXPO 2017 third international participants’ meeting, the main and final event on the eve of the international specialised exhibition.

Three hundred and twenty-six delegates from more than 100 countries attended the two-day meeting and were informed on preparations for the exhibition. The meeting included detailed presentations regarding the expo’s organisation and logistics, as well as question-and-answer sessions, providing organisers and participants a common platform to exchange information.

Secretary General of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) Vicente Loscertales addressed the participants in his opening speech, praising the level of preparation for EXPO 2017 and expressed confidence in its success.

“I want to thank the organisers of the exhibition, who approached all stages of preparation with great responsibility, bringing us to its final stage. Now I am sure that our joint efforts will lead us to success,” Loscertales said.

Vicente Loscertales

He also emphasised the importance of the “Future Energy” theme and its relevance across the globe, which is reflected in the high number of international participants.

First Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin addressed delegates at the opening of the meeting, alongside Chairman of the Board of Astana EXPO 2017 Akhmetzhan Yessimov, Kazakhstan’s EXPO Commissioner Rapil Zhoshybayev and Akim (Mayor) of Astana Asset Issekeshev.

Yessimov noted that the pavilions are being commissioned to international participants for further installation works. Many countries have already started construction.

“Only 108 days are left before the exhibition, that is why we are calling on the rest of the participants to activate their work on installing the pavilions,” he said.

For the convenience of the exhibition participants, guidelines on various operational fronts were developed. A Unified Service Centre that provides visa support, tax, banking, insurance and other services of state bodies of Kazakhstan was launched. The organisers also introduced the Accreditation information system that minimises the time necessary to complete the procedure.

To accommodate the commissioners of national pavilions, their families and staff, the hosts of the exhibition built a 1,374-apartment campus within the expo. Kazakhstan also introduced a visa-free regime for 45 countries.

According to Yessimov, the New York Times included Kazakhstan and Astana EXPO 2017 on the list of recommended places to visit in 2017.

He also drew attention to the fact that the realities of the modern world put forward the specific requirements for the security of the exhibition’s attendees and participants.

“We have carefully studied the experience of exhibitions in Milan and Shanghai, the Olympic Games in Sochi and Rio de Janeiro. Based on that study, we have developed an operational plan that covers all security issues. It will help to ensure maximum safety for all the participants of the exhibition,” Yessimov said.

The meeting also announced the establishment of “Space” award as part of the exhibition that will grant 20,000 euros ($21,031) for the best innovative project in the field of future energy. The award was established by the BIE and Japanese EXPO’90 fund and is awarded in the form of a start-up to develop the winner project. Citizens and organisations from 160 BIE participant countries are invited to take part in the contest. The competition results will be announced closer to the end of the expo.

The international participants’ meeting is the key event in the organisation of the expo that takes place on an annual basis and provides a platform for exchanging information on the main stages of preparation for the host country, the BIE and the participants, both confirmed and potential.

To date, 115 countries and 18 international organisations have officially confirmed their participation in the exhibition. Thus, by the number of participating countries, EXPO 2017 has become one of the most successful in the history of exhibitions.

The exhibition expects around 5 million visits, with 85 percent of visitors coming from Kazakhstan, and 15 percent – from abroad. Most of the foreign guests are expected to come from the Commonwealth of Independent States countries and China. A significant number of tourists are also expected from Europe, Turkey and the United States.

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Kazakh domestic violence rate decreases

Wed, 2017-02-22 10:48

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

ASTANA – Within the last five years, the number of domestic violence crimes in Kazakhstan decreased by 35 percent, Minister of Internal Affairs Kalmukhanbet Kassymov said during the Feb. 13 Mazhilis (lower house of Parliament) governmental hour. Preventive measures adopted in 2010 helped in achieving the decline.

“Last year more than 248,000 criminal offenses were registered, 26,000 of which are grave and especially grave crimes. This is an overall statistic. There were 853 deliberate homicide cases, 2,160 cases of grievous bodily harm, more than 5,000 cases of medium gravity harm, almost 680 cases of threats of physical violence and other crimes. Those kinds of crimes against the person are committed the most in the family and the domestic sphere; they make up to 10 percent,” he said.

Kassymov noted domestic crimes are usually committed as the result of conflict between spouses in families with low social and material income or between former family members while being intoxicated. The victims of violence are usually women, the elderly and children.

Before 2010, police had no specific measures to prevent domestic violence, but the situation changed when the special laws were adopted. As a result, employees of internal affairs agencies have issued more than 379,000 protection orders and the courts established more than 32,000 special requirements for offenders’ behaviour.

“In general, the legislative measures have contributed to an annual reduction in the level of family and household crime in the country an average of 10 percent. Compared with 2011, in 2016 we reached the result of a 35-percent decline in these types of crimes. The number of murders committed in the family relations sphere decreased by nearly three times,” said Kassymov.

To date, about 4,000 people are under police preventive supervision within protective regulations and the court has set special requirements for the behaviour of 1,200 individuals, he added.

“The results of the last five years show that the local police are taking special measures. In 2012, about 38,000 protection orders and 3,500 special requirements for the behaviour of offenders were set. In the past year, 64,000 protection orders were issued and 5,000 special requirements were issued. Moreover, in the last year 3,000 offenders were brought to justice for violation of protection orders. In 2012, the number was 1,000,” said Kassymov.

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Expert consults citizens on IPO investments as privatisation advances

Wed, 2017-02-22 10:44

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

ASTANA – Forex Club information and analysis centre head Nikolai Ivchenko has advised citizens to invest funds intelligently when purchasing national companies’ shares at initial public offerings (IPOs), specifically, not to spend all their money on one particular company no matter how stable they are.

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“It is hard to talk about issuers; we need to analyse each company individually. Typically, an IPO is not a simple process. Commonly, after the start of an IPO a company’s shares fall in price; however, they start recovering later. Therefore, individuals are recommended not to invest all their money in one or two companies. One can invest 20 percent of the savings in an IPO. Of course, if one sees any segment in the stock market as one of the areas for investment, it is better to spend 10 percent of the savings for an IPO and divide five percent of the investment on each company. The rest of the money can be invested in a long-trading company by buying an index or a basket consisting of 15-20 companies which are included in the index. It is always easier to deal with a reliable asset that has long been trading in the market,” he said, according to

Ivchenko reiterated any IPO carries risks of a sharp rise or decline.

“In general, I can say that the Kazakhstan Stock Market (KASE) will witness positive dynamics in the next two years,” he added.

In a recent address to the nation, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev outlined aspects of further stock market development. He noted the necessity of expanding opportunities for people to invest their savings primarily in various types of stocks. The President instructed the government together with the National Bank to take adequate measures aimed at enhancing the domestic stock market.

The Samruk Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund intends to transfer 23 assets to the competitive environment through IPO this year, said Samruk Kazyna head Umirzak Shukeyev.

“According to our plan for this year, 23 facilities out of 45 in the first list will be sold until the end of 2017,” he added.

From this list, 12 assets will be prepared for IPO in the first half of the year. The world’s largest companies will be invited to participate in the privatisation plan.
“We plan to prepare Air Astana and Kazatomprom for IPO this year,” said Shukeyev.

Prime Minister Bakhytzhan Sagintayev recently instructed the Ministry of Finance to accelerate and complete privatising enterprises.

“The government is supposed to complete the corresponding work before the end of 2018. The Ministry of National Economy is required to submit the government’s draft decision on the approval of a specific list of projects subject to privatisation until 2018,” he added.

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Astana airport terminal construction nears completion

Wed, 2017-02-22 10:40

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

ASTANA – The project to build a new 60.2 billion tenge (US$188.7 million) terminal for the capital’s airport is being implemented. However, the terminal construction requires 20 billion tenge (US$62.7 million) more than expected.

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Berik Beisengaliyev, a managing director of Asset Optimisation at Samruk Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund, spoke about the progress of building the new terminal, Kazakhstanskaya Pravda reported.

According to him, the construction is nearing completion and will finish in May this year. An additional loan of $62.7 million is now being registered at Development Bank of Kazakhstan to realise this project.

“The project is being implemented via Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Investment and Development. The project will allow increasing a peak carrying capacity of passengers from 750 to 2,000 passengers per hour or increasing an annual carrying capacity from 3.5 million to 7 million passengers, the project is in the active stage of implementation,” Beisengaliyev noted.

He also mentioned that two new airplanes are about to be purchased for the Qazaq Air airline.

“Within the first year of its operation, the airline company has transported more than 160,000 passengers with three aircrafts between the country’s 12 cities. Increasing the fleet by two more aircrafts during years 2017-2018 is being planned in the nearest time and according to a business plan, achieving final cause productive capacity of 450,000 passengers per year is planned for 2019,” Beisengaliyev added.

Head of Department of Civil Aviation Committee of Kazakh Ministry of Investment and Development Amantai Kokatayev informed that the new Astana airport terminal is expected to provide comfortable passenger flow for the next 10 years, Kazinform news agency reported.

The area of the new terminal will be 47,000 square metres.

Construction of the terminal began in January 2015 and will be completed in March. Almost all works on building the terminal have been completed except for equipment assembly and interior finishing.

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Kazakhstan offers ‘Astana platform’ as venue to resolve conflicts beyond Syria

Wed, 2017-02-22 06:38

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

NEW YORK – Kazakhstan believes the Astana platform, which recently demonstrated its usefulness in talks on Syria, can be used more widely as a venue for efforts to help resolve other conflicts, one of Kazakhstan’s top diplomats said Feb. 21 at the UN Security Council.

Speaking at a UN Security Council ministerial open debate “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Conflicts in Europe,” Roman Vassilenko, Kazakhstan’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, said: “The position of my country regarding conflicts in Europe that, unfortunately, continue to take place without durable solutions, is well known. Kazakhstan maintains friendly relations with all the countries involved in those conflicts, without exception. With virtually all of them, we have both bilateral and multilateral formats of mutually beneficial cooperation within integration initiatives and regional organisations. That is why we believe the Astana platform can serve as a much-needed venue for restoring confidence and reconfirming commitment to basic principles of international law and respect for the national interests of the parties involved.”

The European security environment has changed dramatically in recent years, he said. The conflicts, threats and instability on the continent are impacted by contemporary security challenges, such as unconventional terrorism, irregular migration, organised crime, including arms and drugs trafficking as well as trafficking in persons. “Last but not least, there’s the expanding atmosphere of fear and distrust,” the diplomat added.

In his address to the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in 2015, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, said: “Humanity needs to move from a focus on routine conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation to a new development strategy which would make such conflicts senseless.”

“To this end, Kazakhstan has consistently advanced an international agenda that seeks to help solve conflicts before they arise, and, if that is no longer possible, to mediate between conflicting parties with the aim of creating conditions for lasting peace,” Vassilenko explained, citing the results of several international meetings in Astana and Almaty on the Syrian conflict and Iran’s nuclear programme.

Kazakhstan’s approach based on seeking mutual understanding and restoring trust among nations, was, perhaps, most notable during its chairmanship in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010, he said.

“At the Astana Summit of the OSCE in December 2010, all of its participating states recommitted themselves to ‘the vision of a free, democratic, common and indivisible Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok, rooted in agreed principles, shared commitments and common goals.’ That commitment is as critical and relevant now as it was then,” the Kazakh deputy foreign minister stressed.

According to him, peaceful solution of conflicts in Europe requires practical action at several levels: between major powers, regionally and locally. It is also important that the Security Council as well as other partners redouble efforts to forge political agreements, taking advantage of even the narrowest openings to find opportunities for compromise, as a matter of priority.

“Bringing an end to the conflict in eastern Ukraine should be our utmost common priority. Our President has consistently worked to help put an end to hostilities contributing to the eventual conclusion of the Minsk Agreements,” Vassilenko said, adding that Kazakhstan considers those agreements the only viable, existing mechanism for solution of the conflict in a peaceful way.

He also said Astana welcomes the most recent announcement on Feb. 18 of an agreement to implement the cease-fire in that three-year-old conflict which has seen one of its deadliest flare-ups in recent weeks.

“It is of special importance for our multi-ethnic country that Ukraine remains sovereign, stable and independent with diverse multi-ethnic and multi-confessional society, in which all human rights are upheld,” Vassilenko continued. “We believe full-fledged normalisation of the situation in that country can only be achieved with economic recovery. We, therefore, call for establishing confidence-building measures in the economic dimension.”

He also outlined Kazakhstan’s positions on the situation in Georgia and the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, as well as on Cyprus and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

According to Vassilenko, two documents from President Nazarbayev will guide Kazakhstan’s work at the UN Security Council over the next two years, the Policy Address from January 2017 and the Manifesto, “The World. The 21st Century.”

In the policy address, the Kazakh leader said progress through preventive diplomacy, democratic processes, arms control, confidence and security-building measures, the promotion of human rights and security in the economic and environmental dimension lie at the heart of Kazakhstan’s vision for effective global security and safety. And the manifesto, which is an official document of the UN Security Council, sets out a step-by-step plan for ending conflicts and violence at regional and global levels.

“We fully support the agenda and priorities of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on prevention of conflicts, which is more effective than crisis management. My country stands united with the international community in efforts to strengthen the work of the United Nations and the Security Council. We support member states to constructively transform conflict into peace, advance security and development, protect human rights, and promote the rule of law,” Vassilenko stressed.

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Day of Gratitude – a celebration of Kazakhstan’s multiethnic society

Wed, 2017-02-22 03:31

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

ASTANA – The Day of Gratitude was celebrated for the first time last year. President Nursultan Nazarbayev established the holiday for people of different ethnic groups living in Kazakhstan to rejoice and celebrate their co-existence as one whole nation.

“Some 800,000 Germans, 102,000 Polish, 550,000 of ethnics groups from the Caucasus and about 100,000 Korean families from the Far East arrived in the Kazakh steppes,” said Nazarbayev during the 22nd session of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan (APK) in April 2016.

“They were unloaded from cattle wagons, where livestock had been transported, in the open steppe and villages with nothing but small bags and sacks in their hands. Only Kazakhs were living in the steppes back then and only they could accept these newly-arrived people. Kazakh families, themselves living in dire conditions after the [second world] war, accepted these people in their adobe-built houses. I am not telling this because I learned it from some history book; our family, living in a small two-bedroom adobe-built house of 10 square metres each, sheltered a family with three children.”

The Day of Gratitude is celebrated March 1 – the day APK was established in 1995. Konstantin Kim, Korean Ethno-Cultural Association (ECA) Press Secretary and Chief Editor of “Koryo Ilbo,” a newspaper about the local Korean community in Kazakhstan, talked about the significance in an exclusive interview with The Astana Times.

“However, as for the Korean ECA, back in 2012 upon the Korean ECA’s initiative in the town of Ushtobe [in the Almaty region], we erected a memorial as a gesture of appreciation and gratitude on behalf of all the deported nations,” he Kim.

“The President said we must thank one another – our colleagues and neighbours – and appreciate being able to live in the multi-ethnic, bonded environment. But as for us, the deported nations, we must thank Kazakhs for accepting our ancestors on their land, for sharing their houses and for helping us survive in the harsh times. Today, all the conditions for all the nations living in Kazakhstan have been created for them to thrive and live in. Mind you, out of 130 ethnic groups more than 60 were deported; this gratitude is the gesture of thanks to the Kazakh nation as a whole,” he added

The ECA holds events at the Ushtobe memorial every year.

“We often talk to the youth – arrange meetings between the younger and older generations. The veterans speak about what this hospitality meant for them; they explain to the younger generations why this day is so important today, what the Kazakhs have done to help people survive, how we, together, have been building the independent state and that this is our shared history, so the youth would feel the importance of this history and would contribute to the development of the future Kazakhstan,” said Kim.

A similar memorial was built in Uralsk in 2012, he noted.

“It was also erected at the initiative of the Korean ECA. The Korean association has felt this duty before as well and to demonstrate this gratitude erected these memorials for the next generations to remember our history,” he said.

“Certainly, there is no way we could pay Kazakhs back what they have done for all nations that have been forced to relocate; there isn’t enough money or treasures in the world. Nonetheless, we must remember this token of life and praise it; to stay united, to preserve peace, as that’s what is making us continue thriving in our country. It is a good thing we now have this holiday. It is a symbol of friendship and it’s a true national holiday,” he added.

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