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

Tue, 2017-03-28 01:18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tue, 2017-03-28 00:22

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

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

Photo credit: sports.kz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mon, 2017-03-27 23:45

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  

 

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Nazarbayev, UAE Prime Minister discuss cooperation in Dubai

Mon, 2017-03-27 23:17

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

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

Photo credit: akorda.kz

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

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

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

The Emir of Dubai confirmed his readiness for such cooperation.

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

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

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Zhambyl region officials improve infrastructure to facilitate tourism

Sat, 2017-03-25 05:31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Karaganda to erect monument to Soviet rock legend Victor Tsoi

Sat, 2017-03-25 05:27

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Astana Opera performs two concerts honouring love and spring

Sat, 2017-03-25 05:22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Sat, 2017-03-25 05:17

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

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

Photo credit: muftyat.kz

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

Year of Religion and Historical Heritage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cooperation among religious associations

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

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

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

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

Religious leaders’ role in building peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Astana bus fleet officials take steps to improve services, safety

Sat, 2017-03-25 05:13

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

ASTANA – Astana bus fleet administration officials discussed improving safety and the quality of services during a recent meeting chaired by Astana Passenger Transport Department Director Bekmyrza Igenberdinov.

Meeting participants focused on reaching performance requirements, adhering to planned bus schedules, routes and intervals, as well as compliance with traffic rules by bus drivers and improving the cultural level of drivers and bus conductors.

They also proposed requiring bus drivers beginning April 1 to leave their cell phones behind before beginning their driving shift.

In addition, the transport control service and the control line service of the carriers were instructed to monitor the use of mobile phones, smoking in bus lounges by drivers, and compliance with traffic rules.

“The contact centre is operating smoothly to improve service in public transport, as well as to establish feedback. The information with the contact centre number is placed in the buses of the city,” reported the akimat (city administration) press service.

At the end of the meeting, Igenberdinov gave specific directions to improve quality.

Meanwhile, the Astana Competence Centre has started recruiting bus drivers in anticipation of EXPO 2017.

“There are certain requirements for them, prescribed by law. Job seekers should have at least five years of driving experience and three years of experience in the public passenger transport. We welcome all drivers from the regions. Our centre will hold trainings for them to meet certain requirements. Particularly, we focus on the upcoming international exhibition. There are drivers who are ready to devote themselves to this profession, and we invite them to the centre,” head of Astana Competence Centre Ayazhan Kassymova said.

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Kazakhstan’s national football team defeated in first match under new coach

Sat, 2017-03-25 05:08

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

ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s national team lost 1-3 to Cyprus in a friendly match on March 22 in Larnaca, Cyprus.

Photo credit: sports.kz

Though a loss, the match held interest for Kazakh fans for two main reasons. First, it was the inaugural match of the national team’s new head coach, Alexander Borodyuk of Russia. Second, it was the last check for the team ahead of their World Cup qualification match against Armenia, to be contested March 26 in Yerevan.

From the very first minutes, Kazakhstan went on the offensive, apparently counting on an early goal. Azat Nurgaliyev and Tanat Nussurbayev were particularly active in the attack. Both had good chances to hit the Cypriot team’s net, but ultimately lacked accuracy. The visitors’ efforts gave fruit a bit later. After receiving a cross from Gafurzhan Suyumbayev, who joined the attack on the left wing, Nusserbayev, standing back to the net, made an accurate move with his heel and scored, making it 1:0. That was the only goal scored in the first half.

Photo credit: sports.kz

In the second half, Cyprus managed to dominate the field and arranged a few sharp attacks. The Kazakh team’s goalkeeper, Stas Pokatilov, initially defended his goal solidly. However, the Cypriots were persistent and eventually got their way.

Their first goal came from Nestor Matidis. Thanos Katelaris scored another from a free kick, and a few minutes later, Dimitris Christofi put Cyprus’s third goal in the far corner of Pokatilov’s net.

Kazakhstan desperately sought a comeback, but the hosts defended better this time, and the match ended with a score of 1:3.

“We started the match well. We scored a good goal and had a few more excellent chances. The guys were showing good football for about 60 minutes. What was worse is that starting from the 60th minute [our play] went down. There were a number of individual mistakes, which led to goals in our net. We need to review our mistakes and understand that they must not be made at such a level. Yes, some mistakes can be excused in the national league but not in international matches. We should do justice to the guys, as they had a long flight and had undergone a challenging acclimatisation process. However, I have gotten to know the team better. One needs to learn from every defeat. I would like the players to understand the requirements set by the coaching staff. They should recover as soon as possible to get ready for the match with Armenia, both physically and psychologically,” Borodyuk said after the match.

 

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Renewal of Nauryz and new Uzbek President’s visit to Astana

Sat, 2017-03-25 04:57

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

When Kazakhstan took its seat on the UN Security Council this year, it was a landmark event not just for our country but for all Central Asia. For the first time in the history of the UN, our region has a voice in its most important body.

From the beginning, Kazakhstan has said it intended to use its two years on the Security Council to advance the priorities of our region and strengthen links between its countries. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has appealed to his fellow leaders to work with him on a common platform before Kazakhstan takes over the one-month presidency of the UNSC in January next year.

Good relations between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are crucial to this ambition. Uzbekistan is the region’s most populous country. Kazakhstan is both the largest and has the strongest economy. The closer we work together the better for the entire region.

The links between the two countries, of course, have always been strong. They share a common history and culture along with many personal connections, including kinship.

In regional policy, there is a track record of successful collaboration. The lead the presidents of our countries have given, for example, in making Central Asia a nuclear-free zone has strengthened the global cause for non-proliferation.

We have seen cooperation as well on trade and in major regional infrastructure projects. The building of the gas pipeline to China is important for both our economies (and Turkmenistan, too) but also provides a symbol of what countries working together can achieve.

But there is always room for improvement. And the reality is that while Tashkent’s relations with Astana have been closer than with other near neighbours over the past few years, there are areas where cooperation can be stepped up for the benefit of the citizens of our two countries and the wider region.

The first visit of Uzbekistan’s new President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to Kazakhstan on March 22-23 has provided the opportunity for this work to begin. It may have been a happy accident of timetables that his visit coincided with the Nauryz (or Nowruz) celebrations but, in keeping with the festival, there were clearly signs of a welcome warming of relations.

Indeed, before he arrived in Astana for his two-day visit, President Mirziyoyev made clear the priority he has given to deepening cooperation right across the board. He spoke, for example, about how new links had already been established at the parliamentary level, enabling both countries to learn from each other as we each accelerate our modernisation and reform programmes.

There is also, of course, much more our two countries can do to support each other’s economic development through joint enterprises and by working together to lift barriers to trade. The ambitious plans to increase the value of trade between our two countries three-fold by 2020 to $5 billion shows just how much potential there is in the economic sphere.

Our region again finds itself as a critical hub in the global economy. Improving transport links, reducing red tape and standardising regulations will help us increase prosperity across Central Asia.

The extraordinary diversity and beauty of our landscapes, the rich history of our cultures and the friendliness of our people also provide the ingredients to make Central Asia the next big global travel destination. More frequent flights between our cities and high-speed rail links will be good for regional business and tourism. Opening the new high-speed Almaty-Tashkent train ahead of Mirziyoyev’s visit is exemplary.

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan also need to continue strengthening cooperation to counter terrorism both by sharing intelligence and acting together to prevent the lack of opportunity and despair on which extremism feeds. This is important both to protect our own citizens and tackle this global threat. It is another area that Kazakhstan has already moved up the international agenda.

As in every region, perhaps there has always been a friendly rivalry between near neighbours. But this does not mask the healthy respect, mutual understanding and shared ambitions the Kazakh and Uzbek peoples nurture toward each other.

President Mirziyoyev’s important visit and the new impetus it has given to relations between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is another reason for celebrating a renewal of this year’s Nauryz.

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Kazakh President says both economic development, political reforms progressing

Fri, 2017-03-24 09:20

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

ASTANA – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev addressed the duration of his presidential term and other questions during a March 16 meeting with national print and television journalists.

Nazarbayev cited former Prime Minister of the UK Margaret Thatcher’s famous quote: “I will stay until I am tired of it. So long as Britain needs me, I shall never be tired of it.” He does this work because people need him, he said, and he is always thinking about what more should be done for Kazakhstan. The President also pointed out that in Article 91 of the revised Constitution, it is written that the strategic course laid out by the first president is immutable and will continue to exist.

“I was elected as President until 2020. There is still time for reflection. Firstly, everything will depend on the people’s trust; secondly, on the strength and health of the person who works. I think that serving as a President you have to give 100 percent of your strength, experience, energy and life, and if the current condition does not allow this to work, then there is nothing to be done. So, everything depends on time,” the head of state concluded.

Questioned as to whether there will be early parliamentary elections in the country, Nazarbayev said that the Parliament was elected until 2021 and it will serve its entire term. He emphasised that the recent expansion of powers of the Parliament and the government will contribute to a more effective achievement of the objectives of what he terms as the Third Modernisation of Kazakhstan.

“If there is no economy, there will not be a good life for people. People will not have a job, will not have a salary and will not have a roof over their heads. They will not be up to anything: neither culture, nor politics. Therefore, the principle ‘economy first, politics second’ means making the people prosperous. Politics and the economy are moving ahead,” the President said.

He noted that today the economy is developing due to the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises, and it has to be flexible. In his state-of-the-nation address, the President stressed the need to support export-oriented enterprises, and for exporters to be mindful of the price and quality of their products. In this regard, the country needs new technology and educated employers.

According to Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan has transformed into a market economy, and privatised enterprises will move to private companies.

He stressed the support offered to small and medium-sized enterprises, including cheap loans, subsidies and loans up to 160 million tenge (about $507,000) for rural residents who want to start their own businesses. However, it is important that people themselves understand what they can do, the President said. He said he had instructed akims (governors and mayors) to start teaching residents how to start businesses and to provide all necessary information about loans.

Answering a question about corruption, the President emphasised that bribery is evil and that everybody in the country must take part in combating this problem.

Asked about the current status of the Kazakh Parliament, Nazarbayev stressed that the country is moving towards democracy. “The current reform is a natural result of the state’s development. The new law significantly strengthens the Parliament’s role in state affairs, including in the formation of the government. The government becomes more independent, receiving the powers to directly manage the economy and the constitutional basis of law enforcement and judicial systems will be modernised,” the President said.

Criticism of the mandatory teaching of English in school was mentioned, in particular that it will undercut efforts to teach the Kazakh language. Nobody is against the Kazakh language, Nazarbayev pointed out. But English is necessary to achieve the goals set in his state-of-the-nation address.

“Why English? A new medical theory is proposed in English, and it will take at least five years to translate it into Russian, but how much longer will it take to translate it into Kazakh? If science, culture, information and innovation occurred in Russian, the whole world would study the Russian language. If everything came from the Chinese, everyone would learn Chinese. All children are learning English from the first grade. Finally, they will know Kazakh, Russian and English,” said Nazarbayev.

Speaking about the external policy of the country, the President emphasised Kazakhstan’s non-proliferation efforts. “We announced our peaceful direction to the whole world: that is why we have been elected a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. We are the first in our region… to have been entrusted with this mission,” Nazarbayev concluded.

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Astana Arlans secure WSB playoff spot with win over Patriots

Fri, 2017-03-24 00:39

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

ASTANA – The Astana Arlans recently secured a World Series of Boxing playoff position by beating Russia’s Patriot boxing team 4-1 at home. It was the undefeated Arlans fourth win of the new boxing season.

Photo credit: today.kz

The Patriot team entered the contest struggling, having lost two out of its three matches this season, and needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Rio Olympics participant and Kazakh fighter Olzhas Sattybayev and Russian boxer Vyacheslav Tashkarakov fought in the lightest weight category. The Kazakh boxer controlled throughout the bout. In the third round, Sattybayev launched a series of attacks, cutting Tashkarakov. The doctor forbade the Russian from continuing, and Sattybayev, who led the score according to all three judges, was given the win.

In the weight category up to 60 kilograms, Kazakh boxer Zakir Safiullin gained the second point for the host team, defeating Artur Subkhankulov. The bout was closely contested with both boxers exchanging blows. But Zakir was more accurate and landed more punches. After five rounds, the judges unanimously awarded Safiullin the win.

In a bout in the 69kg category, Arlans fighter Aslanbek Shymbergenov defeated Shakhabas Makhmudov and brought the Arlans, translated as “wolves,” their third victory of the night.

In the category to 81 kg, Kazakh fighter Arman Rysbek broke down the resistance of Patriots fighter Pavel Silyagin in a tough bout to gain the Arlans fourth point of the night.

WSB newcomer and current champion of Kazakhstan Olzhas Bukayev fought Magomed Omarov in the final, 91kg bout. Omarov’s experience proved too much for the WSB newcomer. The Russian fighter unanimously won the bout on points after five rounds, securing the Patriots only win of the contest.

The Arlans will fight their next group match in Uzbekistan on March 31 against the Uzbek Tigers, and will complete the group stage with a fight against China Dragons in China on April 21.

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AFC Kairat readies for UEFA Cup’s Final Four in Almaty

Fri, 2017-03-24 00:36

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

ASTANA – The UEFA Futsal Cup’s Final Four will be held April 28-30 in Almaty. The teams that will compete for the cup include Sporting Lisbon (Portugal), Movistar Inter (Spain), Gazprom-Yugra (Russia) and AFC Kairat (Kazakhstan).

Photo credit: uefa.com

Kairat will first play Movistar Inter in the semifinal while the Russian and Portuguese clubs will face each other in the second match.

“First of all, I would like to thank our management for the organisation of the Final Four in Almaty. I think the match against Movistar Inter will be a tough one, but we will be ready to fight. They are a famous Spanish team that has won the UEFA Cup. So, the match promises to be really intense. But we play at home, so we count on strong support from our fans. Come and help our team win. I think we can give our fans reasons to celebrate and Kairat will get to the final,” said AFC Kairat’s head coach, Brazilian specialist Cacau.

According to Almaty captain Dinmukhambet Suleimenov, it will be a “great responsibility and honour for the team” to play in the Final Four in Kazakhstan.

“Movistar Inter is a very serious opponent. The Spanish club is one of the strongest in Europe, so playing against them will not be easy. Of course, we understand that there are no weak teams at the decisive stage, and we have to get up for each game as much as possible. The match against them will be very interesting. Moreover, futsal fans will enjoy watching one of the world’s best players Ricardinho. Our objective obviously is to reach the final. We will do our best to please our fans and win that match,” he promised.

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Festival of Disney films in Kazakh underway in Almaty

Fri, 2017-03-24 00:30

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

ASTANA – A festival of the best Disney films in the Kazakh language is taking place in Almaty until the end of March with the possibility of prolonging it until the mid-April, the Almaty city Akimat (city administration) reports.

Photo credit: rabstol.net

According to local media, the festival was organised for the Nauryz celebrations.

The festival is open to the public at the StarCinema Aport cinema at the APORT mall along the Raiymbek Avenue. The festival was organised by the Meloman chain of stores – the organisers hope to inspire more people to watch films in the Kazakh language.

Since 2011, the corporate Bolashak foundation with the support of the Meloman/Marwin company dubbed Hollywood films into the Kazakh language and then released them in Kazakh cinemas.

“We thought that a good reason for such meetings could be going to the cinema, and came up with a small, family festival of wonderful films in high-quality translation into Kazakh. For our company, the festival is an experiment in the field of entertainment organisation. In the future, we are planning to hold a big festival together with Disney,” said Meloman Director General Vadim Golenko.

The show programme includes the films, the distributor of which is Meloman in Kazakhstan. The audience can watch such films as “Kulikter-2” (Cars-2), “Batyl zhurek” (Brave), “Monsterlar University” (Monsters University), “Galaxy Sasylaras” (Guardians of the Galaxy), “Maleficent,” “Kulbike” (Cinderella), “Kek Alushylar: Altron dauiri” (Avengers: Age of Ultron), “Alice Ainanyn Argy” (Alice in Wonderland), “Jungle Kіtaby” (The Jungle Book) and “Moana.”

According to Golenko, five films will be shown a day.

“We expect to see those people on the shows who, due to various reasons, did not have the time to watch these films in theatres. Specifically, for this, by agreement with Disney and the StarCinema Aport cinema, we made the ticket price only 300 tenge (US$0.9) to make these films as easily accessible as possible to a wide range of moviegoers,” said Golenko.

For information, the Kazakh language became the 39th official language of Disney Pixar. The latest feature that was translated to Kazakh was “Star Wars Rogue One.”

 

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Kazakhstan to develop regional doing business rating

Fri, 2017-03-24 00:25

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

ASTANA – The first ease of doing business rating of Kazakh regions will be compiled this year, said Economic Research Institute head Serzhan Madiyev. Based on international and domestic experience, it aims to help the government to more precisely and purposefully provide regional support.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev noted the necessity of creating the city and regional rating in his annual address to the nation.

Kazakhstan works each year to improve its position in the World Bank Doing Business global rating, said Madiyev.

“We provide recommendations to the government on what needs to be done to raise the positions in this rating every year. It is very important for attracting foreign investments. This year, we are launching a new rating in accordance with the instructions of the head of state. It will be the Ease of Doing Business rating in the regions. This is not a new activity for us, as we have provided such a ranking for the Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs in the past two-three years. It meets the tasks of the chamber. They also monitor, make their conclusions based on this rating and search for problems and imbalances. Now, the Ministry of National Economy on behalf of the government has set us the task to develop the annual rating in the regions on the principle of the ease of doing business index,” he said.

The National Chamber of Entrepreneurs work experience with the World Bank will be applied in developing the ranking. Madiyev stressed such an approach will allow seeing a real picture of what is happening in the regions and also help develop competition among them. Now, akims (governors) should provide support for every entrepreneur.

In addition, a special award will be granted in the form of public incentives for those regions and cities that pay the most attention to business support and enterprise development.

The experts plan to finalise the methodology and publicly discuss and approve it, then send it to the regions this year in cooperation with the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs.

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Kazakh feminists have something to say

Thu, 2017-03-23 13:04

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

ASTANA – On the recent March 8 International Women’s Day, the Kazakh media exploded with the news that Kazakh feminists were marching in Almaty. Comment sections were filled with different opinions and views. Undoubtedly, KazFem, the group that organised the rally, has shown that feminists have something to say.

KazFem marching on March 8, 2017

“We wanted to celebrate March 8 in a historical tradition, because it got lost and many people forgot what it truly means. Everyone thinks it is a holiday of femininity and flowers. A long time ago, women went to the streets to demand equal salaries with men, the right to vote and other things we take for granted today. Women think we always had that, but it was achieved only a hundred years ago. Later, that day became the day when women can go to the streets to talk about their problems,” said KazFem participant Arina Osinovskaya in an interview with The Astana Times.

Young women marched while holding posters with slogans.

“Then we sang a song ‘Bread and roses,’ which is a symbolical song created more than one hundred years ago. It is about the fact that women want not only to survive, but live. They want not only bread, but conditions for living,” she explained.

“We think there are lots of women’s issues that remain in Kazakhstan. Of course, they have changed. We can vote, we have the right to work and the right to have a higher education, but some things still need to be changed, both legally and in the minds of people,” she added.

 

According to feminists, the first issue is domestic violence.

“It is an issue in every country. But in our country, due to the mentality most people still think it is a matter of the family and it is unnecessary to do something or to ‘wash dirty linen in public.’ as some say,” said Osinovskaya.

KazFem tries to tackle issues by organising public displays. Its first campaign, “Behind the stone wall,” was devoted to domestic violence. On Arbat [a walking street in Almaty], a girl wearing makeup and lying on the ground pretended to be a victim of domestic violence.

“We were putting stones around her with phrases on them such as ‘Hearth-keeper,’ ‘You are a wife,’ ‘You are safe with your husband” and others. All the phrases that make women put up with violence, not to report husbands and do nothing at all,” she said.

Every KazFem action is devoted to a special date or occasion. “Liberation of Lady Justice,” for example, rallied against accepting amendments on conciliation of the parties in rape cases.

Liberation of Lady Justice

The second problem is bride kidnapping.

“Even today, some people think it is a normal thing to take a girl without her consent, to kidnap her and rape her. Afterwards, she has no choice and she has to marry that guy,” said Osinovskaya.

Social issues also surround kelin (Kazakh for daughter-in-law) and tokal (second and subsequent wife, mistress), she added.

Feminists note economic concerns such as different wages also exist in the country. The issue was discussed publicly after KazFem’s march, as Minister of Labour and Social Protection Tamara Duissenova reacted by saying it depends on the field and specific conditions where individuals work. KazFem responded with official statistics showing that on average women earn 30 percent less than men. The question remains open, they say.

Osinovskaya also talked about roles in Kazakh society. In the majority of families, a girl is told from an early age that she must be a good wife and her main role is to give birth to a child.

“We are fighting for women to have their own choice. Career or family – she should choose by herself,” she said.

Feminism is inseparable from the political life of the state, as it is impossible to talk about feminism without taking into account political institutes. Of course, people’s perceptions and attitudes play a significant role in the matter.

Reactions to feminists differ.

“Usually, men say we invent our problems. But women, they never say we have created problems from our heads. They can say that we have nothing to do or something else, but they never say those problems are imagined,” said Osinovskaya.

Behind the stone wall

The Kazakh population is very calm and not used to public action.

“It is really hard for people to go outside and talk about their rights. We try to show by our example that it is not necessary to go to a militant rally. A rally does not have to be against power; it should be for good things – for rights, amendments into the law,” she said.

Kazakh women’s groups began forming in the 1990s and numerous non-governmental organisations have been working in different aspects and spheres. Term such as “discrimination,” “gender,” “sexism,” and “feminism” are not unfamiliar to the country’s modern generation.

KazFem is an initiative of feminists based in Almaty. Their social network groups are used as a platform to discuss and study feminist theory, as well as organise different campaigns and meetings and exchange opinions. The vk.com group, which started with 150 individuals, now has more than 1,000 like-minded people.

“In our organisation, we have a horizontal system of management; we don’t have one leading woman to decide everything. We make decisions together. Our group was formed almost two years ago after we issued our first magazine ahead of March 8,” said Osinovskaya.

“Yudol” (“Vale” in Russian), the first feminist publication in the country, covers the problems of Kazakh women.

“There were 5-6 of us [who worked on the issue]. A lot of young women came to the presentation, so we understood that the issue is very important for the women in Kazakhstan and we thought we could make something bigger and more useful together,” she added.

The magazine is distributed online and in a printed version. While the number of subscribers is quite large, those who actively participate in all the campaigns numbers around 15. There is also a faction involved in particular events, such as cinema nights and book clubs.

Osinovskaya noted the progress and changes throughout the years are visible today.

“I have been following the materials in the mass media and I can see the improvement. Three years ago, the word feminism had a negative tone. I can see the situation changing,” she said.

“We have different legislative bases and historically we have a different context [compared to the Western world]. In France, people were able to go to a rally 100-200 years ago and here everything is just beginning. I hope that with time we will have a women’s march like in other countries, when thousands of women will go to the streets,” said Osinovskaya.

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Kazakh uranium production to decrease eight percent this year, say experts

Thu, 2017-03-23 12:51

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

ASTANA – Approximately 22,000 tonnes of uranium, representing an 8-percent decrease, will be extracted this year compared to a 25-percent increase in gold production, according to the research and knowledge management department of Samruk Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund, reported abctv.kz.

Photo: inform.kz

“In 2016, nearly 24,000 tonnes of uranium were produced in Kazakhstan, 1.7 percent more compared to a year earlier. In 2017, uranium production will decline 8 percent, or 2,000 tonnes, due to weak market conditions associated with an overabundance of uranium,” said department experts.

Production is expected to grow as market conditions improve. Under the plans to reduce production, uranium prices rose to more than $24 per pound from $17.75 at the end of November 2016 from the lowest level since February 2015.

Kazakhstan exports all the uranium produced mainly on long-term contracts, as the country does not own its own nuclear power plants. China remains the main importer of Kazakh uranium with a share of more than 50 percent.

The Central Asian nation, which mines 39 percent of the world’s uranium, is the largest global producer, followed by Canada and Australia, with shares in 2015 of 22 and 9 percent, respectively. The same year, production of nitrous oxide-uranium reached 71,000 tonnes, containing 60,496 tonnes of uranium. Uranium also comes from secondary sources, including uranium stocks in power plants.

Currently, 439 nuclear power plants globally consume uranium with an installed net power of 380 gigawatts. The U.S. is one of the largest consumers with a 28-percent share of total consumption. China and South Korea use about 12 and 8 percent, respectively. Starting in 2015, world consumption is expected to grow 4.8 percent annually to 97,900 tonnes in 2020. At present, 58 nuclear reactors are being built and 512 additional reactors are in the planning phase. Twenty-three Japanese nuclear reactors are in the process of restarting; in 2016, the U.S. launched its first new nuclear reactor in the last 20 years and four more are in the production stage.

New nuclear reactors will mainly be built in developing countries, such as China and India, where the demand for electricity is growing rapidly. As expected, the launch of new nuclear reactors will compensate for the reduction in uranium consumption by deactivated nuclear reactors. The action will help to correct the imbalance in supply and demand and in the long term, a steady increase in the number of nuclear power plants will positively influence the uranium market.

Spot uranium prices fell to $17.75 per pound at the end of November 2016, the lowest level since February 2005, and by the end of 2016 prices recovered to $20 per pound. The uranium market is supposed to remain volatile due to unsustainable policies and the economy. The market will preserve an excess of uranium until 2020, resulting in spot prices below $30 per pound.

At such low prices, however, few companies will develop new deposits. In this regard, long-term prices for uranium will be maintained by a growing demand coupled with a possible shortage of uranium supplies. In addition, main U.S. and European nuclear power plants are expected to renew long-term contracts for uranium supply in 2017-2018.

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National Bank outlines how citizen pension funds are spent

Thu, 2017-03-23 12:48

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

ASTANA – Political Scientist and Single Accumulative Pension Fund (SAPF) Public Council Chairperson Dosym Satpayev reacted to the National Bank’s response in connection with the public council’s request to explain its reasoning for spending 50 billion tenge (US$158.4 million) from the pension fund to support the railway sector.

The National Bank confirmed “the possibility of financing quasi-state organisations is being considered in 2017, which in turn will finance a number of specific projects in Kazakhstan, including the purchase of domestic freight cars.”

At the same time, the National Bank stated the final decisions regarding investing SAPF pension assets for 2017 have not yet been adopted.

“The proposals are under consideration by the members of the Council for the Management of the National Fund of Kazakhstan. Some other specific quasi-state projects and their financing are yet to be approved by the government,” it noted.

The National Bank stressed “the SAPF pension assets can be attracted by quasi-state organisations as one of the possible sources of funds.”

Speaking of other issuers, departments and state programmes that show interest in pension assets, the National Bank replied that “in 2017, in addition to quasi-state organisations, [there is] the possibility of investing the SAPF pension assets on market conditions in bonds of international financial organisations, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).”

“International financial organisations plan to attract funds from the SAPF to finance projects in the real sector of the economy of Kazakhstan, for which they will issue bonds denominated in tenge; the rate of interest on these bonds may be fixed (the rate is determined depending on the maturity and current market conditions) or might be floating, depending on the level of inflation in Kazakhstan. Bonds of international financial organisations, given their credit ratings at AAA level, refer to highly reliable financial instruments,” it added.

The National Bank noted these bonds will presumably be listed on the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange (KASE).

“In addition, in 2017 there are plans to invest pension assets of the SAPF in Kazakh government securities, as well as purchase foreign currency to diversify the portfolio of pension assets,” it said.

In response to the public council’s request to provide full information on the effectiveness of prior investments in such projects since establishing the SAPF in 2014, the National Bank said “the principle of investing SAPF pension assets into financial instruments for financing various projects of the economy of Kazakhstan has been implemented since the beginning of 2016.”

“In 2016, the investment of the SAPF pension assets was invested in conditional deposits of second-tier banks to support small and medium-sized businesses, as well as bonds of quasi-state organisations to stimulate key sectors of the country’s economy,” added the National Bank.

In 2016, the volume of pension assets invested in quasi-state organisation bonds was 378.4 billion tenge (US$1.1 billion). Investments in the quasi-public sector were carried out mainly in 10-15-year bonds with interest rates ranging from 14-18.6 percent per annum or with an average weighted yield of 15.1 percent per annum, including bonds of the Development Bank of Kazakhstan, KazAgro, KEGOC and Kazakhstan Temir Zholy.

The profitability of the SAPF pension assets distributed to depositors’ accounts “in 2014 was 6.3 percent; in 2015, it was 15.6 percent and in 2016, it was 7.9 percent,” said the National Bank.

Satpayev added the pension system needs to undergo major changes so that the depositors can decide what to do with their own pension savings.

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New Uzbek President’s state visit to Kazakhstan sees relations soar

Thu, 2017-03-23 12:41

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

ASTANA – Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev discussed bilateral relations during Mirziyoyev’s March 22-23 first visit to Kazakhstan. His visit, accorded the highest status of a state one, corresponded with the Nauryz spring holiday.

During their meeting at the Akorda presidential residence on March 23, Nazarbayev noted a sharp increase in trade turnover between the countries and that Uzbekistan has expanded the type of products it exports to Kazakhstan. The Kazakh leader also noted Kazakhstan plans to hold its first Kazakh-Uzbek business forum on the same day, which was expected to attract more than 500 entrepreneurs and result in 75 contracts totaling $1 billion.

Mirziyoyev stressed Kazakhstan’s election to a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council has added international significance to bilateral relations.

“I would like to assure you that Uzbekistan will support all your activities. Much attention is now being paid to the regional cooperation. I hope that today’s meetings will serve as a basis for further effective cooperation between our countries,” he said, also wishing Kazakhstan success in achieving its Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy goals.

Nazarbayev expressed a similar sentiment, saying he hopes the countries’ friendly bilateral relations continue.

“Kazakhstan wishes prosperity and wealth to our strategic partner, neighbour and fraternal nation of Uzbekistan. We look forward to fruitful relations within the framework of bilateral contacts,” said Nazarbayev.

During Mirziyoyev’s visit, he also gave a wide-ranging interview to the Kazinform international information agency.

Mirziyoyev told the agency that approximately 230 enterprises operate in Uzbekistan with Kazakh capital and that 130 businesses operate in Kazakhstan with Uzbek capital.

Mirziyoyev also said one of Uzbekistan’s foreign policy priorities is to strengthen ties with its immediate neighbours.

“We all understand well that Central Asia is a single organism that for centuries had a common geographical, economic and cultural space. No country can individually solve the questions that concern all residents of the region. Those, for example, are the issues of delimitation and demarcation of state borders, transport communications, ecology, rational and equitable use of water resources,” he said in that interview.

The Uzbek president focused specifically on the need for cooperation in managing regional water resources in the face of global warming and rising consumption.

“Central Asia has always depended heavily on water resources. … Today, if we do not save each drop of water together, it will be a crime against future generations,” he said in the interview, adding that Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan support developing a unified strategy and adopting international legal norms for water use.

Mirziyoyev also noted the two countries are concerned about global and regional security and that Uzbekistan appreciates Kazakhstan’s work to strengthen stability in the region. He underlined Kazakhstan’s initiatives to establish the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and develop multilateral cooperation in other areas.

“I think that the upcoming meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Astana in June and Kazakhstan’s chairmanship in this multilateral organisation are of great importance for increasing its effectiveness in combating transnational threats and strengthening peace and stability in our region,” he noted.

Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, said Mirziyoyev, understand security is directly related to economic development. Therefore, combating terrorism and radicalism should include not only the intensification of security measures, but also efforts to ensure sustainable economic growth, freedom of entrepreneurship and the satisfaction of people’s needs.

“When we talk about the regional policy of our country and intensification of relations with our neighbours,” Mirziyoyev continued, “we have in mind Afghanistan, which has a common border with Uzbekistan. We all understand that the situation in Afghanistan carries certain challenges for Central Asia. Therefore, it is natural that Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are interested in the speediest settlement of the Afghan problem,” he told the information agency.

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