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Almaty Festival seeks to cultivate performing arts culture

Sat, 2017-02-11 06:39

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

ASTANA – The fourth annual International Festival of Performing Arts Otkroveniye (Russian for Revelation) kicked off Feb. 1 in Almaty and will have its last performance on Feb. 13.

According to festival Producer and Director Olga Sultanova, this year the organisers invited 19 foreign guests, including critics, theatrical producers and experts. They have given positive feedback about their experience.

“The foreign guests already left a few days ago and some of them had already posted their thoughts about the festival on social media,” Sultanova told The Astana Times. “But our guest programme is ongoing, a troupe from Armenia will stage a show (Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.) and on Feb. 13 a Russian troupe will close the festival,” she added.

The organisers, according to Sultanova, tried to demonstrate that theatre is not only drama.

“Theatre also includes plastique spectacles, documentary theatre, inclusive theatre, while opera and ballet could also be included. That is why we would like to continue expanding the programme every year. Also, we want the artists to be able to exchange their experiences with their foreign colleagues, as this cultural exchange is priceless,” Sultanova explained.

The hosts of the theatrical event are also hoping to attract young people aged 16 to 25 years to the theatrical arts. They will also strive to bring together all the theatres in the city and to create joint projects.

This year the festival also hosted two educational programmes, which included lectures and master classes from foreign guests and a book presentation “Anthology of Contemporary Finnish Drama,” which was introduced by Nadezhda Simakina, coordinator of the international projects at Adelfa Agency.

An inclusive theatre laboratory – accessible by all regardless of physical limitations, language or background titled “Literal action” was held Feb. 3-11 with the support of the Soros Kazakhstan Foundation .

“Both our partners and us understand that such projects and global changes on the level of state policy in relation to people with mental disorders are less effective without the support of the masses,” Saule Mamayeva, coordinator of the youth programme at Soros Kazakhstan, told the media prior at the start of the festival.

“Without our adequate response and desire to live, to work with people with mental disorders [they will not have these opportunities]. Seeing them on stage and in film, applaud them , it is equally necessary to them and to the broader population. So we were incredibly excited when Olga (Sultanova) came to us with a proposal to support the idea of the ​​inclusive theatre.”

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Freelancing in Kazakhstan: both stepping stone and ultimate prize

Fri, 2017-02-10 01:58

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

ASTANA – The rise of the internet has given new opportunities to people who don’t want to have bosses and work in offices from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is now the age of the freelancer.

For some, it’s a precarious life. For others, this is a pinnacle of achievement, considering that they work only when they need to or want to.

“I worked in a trade company for four years as a staff system administrator. I didn’t like that job and I always wanted to schedule my work myself, be independent – and I definitely didn’t like to report to my boss. The last one was a pain in the neck. That is why I decided to start working as a freelancer. To be honest, I was afraid to leave my job in the company, because it had obvious advantages, such as a guaranteed salary and free lunches. And I had many friends there,” said Kalibek Kuanyshev, a 31-year-old freelancer from Astana, in an interview Feb. 8.

“It took me approximately one and a half years to get 15 to 20 loyal customers and decide to quit. At first, I rented a small office, but I understood that there is no need to have an office, because most of my clients worked with me from different cities and even different states. And local clients didn’t come to my office often. Usually, they came to get documents. I realised that working from home would save me money and I started to send all documents to my clients using Kazpost,” he said.

“Later, I made sure that it was the right choice and I was able to travel around the country. I used the opportunity of office-free life to travel abroad and work from Thailand. Besides, I met many freelancers and traders in Thailand and I know that there are many of them in India. Unfortunately, life there isn’t so cheap after the tenge devaluation, but I hope to try living there again if our national currency grows or I start earning in U.S. dollars or euros,” Kuanyshev added.

“I want to warn everybody: freelancing isn’t heaven. I always thought I was a realist and I thought I understood everything and could plan my life. But I was wrong and I was too optimistic when I decided to quit my job and start working as a freelancer. I didn’t know how many challenges I would have to face, how many problems I would have to solve. So, if you have decided to become a freelancer, you should understand that the absence of a boss and employer means that you have to be a boss and employer for yourself. Literally, you have to do everything your boss or employer does: manage you, find orders, control your operation, pay taxes and bear all expenses. It is not easy! And that isn’t for everyone,” he said.

“So, what do we eventually have? I would say that a freelancer has freedom, but a very limited freedom. I do not regret that I changed my life. I think that it was definitely the right choice, but I see many people leaving freelance work and deciding to find a job working for ‘the man.’ And I don’t judge them, because the life of a freelancer is full of risks and uncertainty. You never know if you will have an order today or not. Will you get good payment for your work or not? Now, after I have been working as a freelancer for five years, I understand that working in a big company at a good position isn’t a bad choice. Freelancing gave me great opportunities: great working experience with different clients; I met different people and learned to cooperate with them; I had to organise myself and learn how to advertise my services,” Kuanyshev concluded.

“I was born and lived in a village. I went to university in Ust-Kamenogorsk and lived there for four years. After I graduated with a translator’s degree I tried to find a job in the city, but my efforts were not successful. Nobody wanted to hire a graduate without work experience, in spite of the fact that I was good at translation,” said Angelika Balashova, a 28-year-old project manager from Ust-Kamenogorsk, in an interview Feb. 9.

“I moved to my parents’ house and had to live in the village again. Of course, living in such a small population centre was torment after entertaining life in the city. I tried to find a job for many months, but it is very hard if you don’t live in the city. I couldn’t afford to live there without a job, but I needed to live there to get a job. It was a vicious circle,” Balashova said.

“Eventually, I found a translation agency in Ust-Kamenogorsk that had a vacancy for freelancers and I was happy to start working via email. In one year the agency offered me the position of project manager and staff translator and I moved to the city and began to work in their office,” she said.

“I am sure that the freelance experience was extremely important and useful for me. At first, it was a great opportunity to get work experience and earn money. Secondly, freelancing was a stepping stone for me that helped me get a staff position in the company,” Balashova said.

Freelancing is quite popular in Kazakhstan and is becoming even more so as even large companies strive to save money and hire experts only when they really need them. Having such experts on staff is of course more convenient, but it is much more expensive.

Freelancers in Kazakhstan are usually registered as self-employed entrepreneurs and pay quite low tax rates.

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A Continent of Hope

Fri, 2017-02-10 01:54

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

Far too often, the world views Africa through the prism of problems. When I look to Africa, I see a continent of hope, promise and vast potential.

I am committed to building on those strengths and establishing a higher platform of cooperation between the United Nations and the leaders and people of Africa. This is essential to advancing inclusive and sustainable development and deepening cooperation for peace and security.

That is the message I carried to the recent African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – my first major mission as United Nations Secretary-General.

Above all, I came in a spirit of profound solidarity and respect. I am convinced that the world has much to gain from African wisdom, ideas and solutions.

I also brought with me a deep sense of gratitude. Africa provides the majority of United Nations peacekeepers around the world. African nations are among the world’s largest and most generous hosts of refugees. Africa includes some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

The recent resolution of the political crisis in the Gambia once again demonstrated the power of African leadership and unity to overcome governance challenges and uphold democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

I left the Summit more convinced than ever that all of humanity will benefit by listening, learning and working with the people of Africa.

We have the plans in place to build a better future. The international community has entered the second year of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an all-out effort to tackle global poverty, inequality, instability and injustice. Africa has adopted its own complementary and ambitious plan: Agenda 2063.

For the people of Africa to fully benefit from these important efforts, these two agendas need to be strategically aligned.

It starts with prevention. Our world needs to move from managing crises to preventing them in the first place. We need to break the cycle of responding too late and too little.

Most of today’s conflicts are internal, triggered by competition for power and resources, inequality, marginalisation and sectarian divides. Often, they are inflamed by violent extremism or provide the fuel for it.

The United Nations is committed to working hand-in-hand with partners wherever conflict or the threat of conflict endangers stability and well-being.

But prevention goes far beyond focusing solely on conflict. The best means of prevention and the surest path to durable peace is inclusive and sustainable development.

We can speed progress by doing more to provide opportunities and hope to young people. More than three out of five Africans are under 35 years of age. Making the most of this tremendous asset means more investment in education, training, decent work, and engaging young people in shaping their future.

We must also do our utmost to empower women so they can play a full role in sustainable development and sustainable peace. I am pleased that the African Union has consistently placed a special focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

I have seen it again and again: When we empower women, we empower the world.

I travelled to Africa as a partner, friend and committed advocate for changing the narrative about this diverse and vital continent. Crises represent at best a partial view. But from a higher platform of cooperation, we can see the whole picture – one that spotlights the enormous potential and remarkable success stories in every corner of the African continent.

With that perspective, I have no doubt we can win the battle for sustainable and inclusive development which are also the best weapons to prevent conflict and suffering, allowing Africa to shine even more vibrantly and inspire the world.

The author Secretary-General of the United Nations.


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Full moon, penumbral lunar eclipse expected this weekend

Fri, 2017-02-10 01:50

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

ASTANA – The Earth passes directly between the Sun and the Moon for the first time this year on Feb. 11. According to Associate Professor of Astronomy at Kozybayev North Kazakhstan State University Andrei Solodovnik, the February eclipse is of the penumbral type, which is very difficult to detect, reports.

“Lunar eclipses are among the most spectacular celestial phenomena. However, it is quite challenging to admire them. A rare lunar eclipse is problematic to observe from a given part of the world in favourable conditions. For example, previous lunar eclipse happened Dec. 10, 2011, followed by a long break. A new series of such phenomena in the current year open with a first eclipse, scheduled for Feb. 11,” Solodovnik said.

The Moon shines because its surface reflects the Sun’s rays. A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon and blocks sunlight from directly reaching the Moon. A penumbral lunar eclipse takes place when the Moon moves through the faint, outer part of the Earth’s shadow.

The second of two lunar eclipses in 2017 will take place Aug. 7. Next year, people will witness a total lunar eclipse, when Earth’s umbra will completely cover the Moon.

“Penumbral eclipse will begin at 4:32 a.m. (Astana time) on Feb. 11. The Moon will be visible high in the southwestern part of the sky. The most dramatic stage will happen at 6:44 a.m. This time, citizens of Kazakhstan will notice faded Moon. Phenomenon will end at 8:55 a.m. when the Moon will be leaving the horizon in the northwest as the first rays of the Sun will appear in the southeast,” Solodovnik added.

The Feb. 11 lunar eclipse in Leo reflects the opening of a new gateway and a starting point into the energies of 2017, astrologists say.

Eclipses are powerful enough to transform, shift and change the direction and flow of someone’s life. Lunar eclipses are considered in astrology as being deeply life-changing periods that can bring abrupt and sudden change. While this is true, there is another side to eclipses. The good thing about eclipses is that generally one can trust the direction they are guiding in. According to astrologists, eclipses are like the cosmic helping hand of the Universe that puts a person where he or she needs to be. The energy of this lunar eclipse will last until August 2017, they believe, and will open a new gateway of energy that would be productive, active and positive.

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Astana Arlans start new season with win over Russian Patriot boxing team

Fri, 2017-02-10 01:47

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

ASTANA – The two-time winner of the World Series Boxing (WSB) has started the new season with a swing. The Astana Arlans recorded a 3-2 win over the Russian Patriot boxing team Feb. 4 in Moscow.

Temirtas Zhussupov (up to 49 kg) lost to his Russian opponent Bator Sagaluyev in the opening bout. Next, 2014 Asian Games champion Ilyas Suleimenov (up to 56 kg) evened the score, defeating Artem Khotenov by unanimous decision. Radmir Abdurakhmanov (up to 64 kg) beat Dilmurat Mizhitov and brought the Russian team forward again.

Astana’s Abilkhan Amankul fought against Radzhab Radzhabov in the weight category of up to 75 kg. The Kazakh boxer won the bout, knocking out his opponent in the fourth round. The fight in the 91 kg weight category was decisive. Anton Pinchuk took an uneasy win over Ilya Kvasnikov, bringing the Arlans its first win of the season.

“It is always nice to return with a remarkable win. This fight was quite tough. We had to work hard to win. There were many tactical moments during the fight where I had to show grit. Character, strength and experience helped to win,” said Pinchuk.

After the match, Astana Arlans general manager Serik Sapiyev was clearly pleased with his team’s result.

“Of course I am happy that everything went well and the match ended with our win. Each of our fighters showed good boxing tonight, as each sought to win his bout. Some of them lacked luck, some lacked skills to win. However, despite two failures I am very pleased with the result, as we secured a victory over a [strong] Russian team. We have ambitious goals in the new season and we must try as best we can to achieve them and prove the high level of the Kazakh boxing school once again,” he said.

The WSB is a league that sees the world’s best amateur boxers competing in teams without headgear and using the scoring system of the International Boxing Association (AIBA). According to the WSB website, the origin of the league “reunited the broader boxing world and its grassroots amateur foundation by providing a bridge between Olympic Boxing and a future professional programme within the AIBA family.”

WSB is wholly owned by AIBA. All WSB boxers are also registered with AIBA and all referees and officials working at WSB matches are specifically certified for the competition. Franchises have a national identity and are formed by national federations. Teams are allowed a quota of overseas boxers: a maximum of eight in total and no more than three of same nationality.

Teams compete in the ten AIBA standard weight categories. The regular season takes the form of a league phase, with the teams facing each other home and away in alternating weight categories. The top teams continue to the playoff stages.

Teams representing franchises across the globe compete in a league format that leads to playoffs and a final. The boxers compete without vests or headgear in five three-minute rounds and five bouts per match.

This year, WSB includes three geographically-based groups each with four teams. The Arlans are in the Asia group with the Russian Patriots, Uzbek Tigers and China Dragons. The other groups are Americas and Europe and Middle East and Africa. The first two teams from the groups and two best-ranked third teams will reach the playoffs.

In WSB’s six seasons, the Astana Arlans won the league in 2012-2013 and 2014-2015 and were the runners-up in the inaugural 2010-2011 season. Last year, the team lost to the British Lionhearts in the semifinals.

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Pro Boxer Firuza Sharipova fights her way to top

Fri, 2017-02-10 01:39

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

ASTANA – Firuza Sharipova will hold a master class Feb. 23 at the Floyd Mayweather Boxing Academy in Zhukovka. A native of Taraz, she is the first Kazakh woman in the professional ring and has been named the sexiest athlete in the country, according to

The multiple Kazakh boxing champion and Asian continental tournament winner is in Moscow training for a title fight to be held this spring in the same city. The date and the opponent have not yet been reported.

“Training in Moscow takes place perfectly. Now, we are at the stage of general physical preparation. I want to fight with strong opponents and do everything for it; I train hard and keep regular hours. I want to learn from them and gain experience. Recently, there was an offer to fight with Deanha Hobbs, the number eight ranked boxer from Australia. Currently, we are thinking about it and considering other options,” Sharipova told The Astana Times.

Sharipova knocked out Serb boxer Milena Matovic in the third round of her last fight in Almaty. She has had three fights with a record of two wins and one defeat.

“My main goal and top priority is to become the first world champion from Kazakhstan in professional boxing. So, first of all we are focused on the sport. My championship match is scheduled for the spring and I have already started to prepare for it,” she said.

“Of course, I would like to play in a movie. This question is on the agenda now, too. For example, my participation in a cameo role in the popular television series ‘Game of Thrones’ as well as filming in several full-length feature films are still under consideration,” she added.

Before Sharipova began her boxing career, she was engaged in cycling and water polo.

“The most important thing for all athletes is to follow the workout plan. Emotions from winning are so attractive when you give it your all and surpass yourself. I lost my first amateur boxing against Gulzhaina Ubiniyazova at the age of 11. Back then, I started boxing in February and I already participated in a competition in three months. I was upset because of the defeat and even cried. My mother came to support me. Later, I won a match against her,” she said.

Sharipova’s first pro fight against Sofya Ochigava, the Olympic silver medal winner, was held May 21, 2016.

“I think this match was spectacular. I’m not going to stop and have ambitions to become the first Kazakh world champion in professional boxing. I have trainings which last five-six hours a day depending on what I need to do. I maintain a healthy diet. Harmful products including carbonated drinks, fast food and sweets are completely eliminated from my diet. My manager Sergey Zavileysky pays great attention to this,” she said.

Sharipova fights in the second super featherweight division with a weight up to 58.967 kilograms and trains with Sergey Kubyshev at the academy on Rublevo-Uspensky Highway.

“Boxing is my life. I have been engaged in it exactly for half of my life. I am very pleased that people find me beautiful. Boxing teaches self-defence, discipline, endurance, reaction and improves the body and health. Every person can be engaged in this sport and it is not necessary to go to a professional level. I recommend to all to go in for sports and lead a healthy lifestyle,” she said.

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Kazakhstan welcomes Syrian ceasefire monitoring group’s first meeting, says another planned for mid-February

Thu, 2017-02-09 06:26

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

ASTANA – Kazakhstan welcomed the first meeting of the joint operational group of Russia, Turkey and Iran set up in January in Astana to monitor the ceasefire in Syria which took placed Feb. 6 in the Kazakh capital. It said the next meeting is provisionally scheduled for Feb. 15-16.

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“This meeting, which took place in a business-like and constructive atmosphere, has shown the relevance of the Astana platform created, thanks to the support and authority of the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, to discuss issues of strengthening the cease-fire regime in Syria. The Kazakh head of state is known internationally for his peacemaking initiatives and concrete contribution to the resolution of conflict situations and reduction of tensions among the states of the world,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Astana said in a Feb. 7 comment from its press service. Representatives from the UN and Jordan also participated in that meeting.

The group discussed measures to monitor and verify compliance with the ceasefire, prevent provocations and determine the modalities of the ceasefire. The participants also discussed confidence-building measures to facilitate unhindered humanitarian access, according to Spokesperson for the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Syria Yara Sharif.

The group was formed as an outcome of the so called International meeting on Syria Jan. 23-24 in Astana. The meeting, which was the first to include both the Syrian government and the Syrian armed opposition, was attended by delegations from Russia, Iran and Turkey, the three guarantor states of the ceasefire regime agreed to at the end of December, and UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan George Krol attended the talks as an observer.

“We at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan proceed from the position that the meetings in Astana on the resolution in Syria, organised with the assistance and active participation of UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, are aimed at supporting the Geneva process. In this connection, we are convinced that the next meeting of the technical group, tentatively scheduled for February 15-16 in the Kazakh capital, will allow creating the necessary conditions for the launch of the next round of Geneva peace talks under the UN auspices,” the Kazakh foreign ministry said.

It continued: “Kazakhstan’s offering a platform for meetings of interested parties and the strengthening of Astana as a peacemaking capital are among our country’s real contributions to the process of resolving the Syrian crisis as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2017-2018.  Kazakhstan will continue sparing no effort and taking consistent steps to help find the solutions to issues of regional and global security.”

UN experts have been providing support for the monitoring effort, including the sharing of UN experience and best practices related to the monitoring ceasefires in other settings.

Sharif noted the UN hopes the monitoring group’s efforts will strengthen the ceasefire on the ground and contribute to the Feb. 20 UN-led intra-Syrian negotiations in Geneva and the political settlement in line with Security Council resolution 2254.

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Free training programme introduced to reduce skilled labour shortage, improve social climate among youth

Thu, 2017-02-09 05:28

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

ASTANA – More than 20,000 young people have the opportunity to get free vocational and technical education as part of the Productive Employment and Large Scale Entrepreneurship programme.

The project, approved by the government Dec. 26, was launched Jan. 1 by the Ministry of Education and Science. Financing totalling 118.8 billion tenge (US$$365.2 million) has been provided by the state, according to the ministry’s press release.

Forecasts indicate 40 percent of Kazakh students will obtain a blue collar job by 2021 and the proportion of unskilled labour will decrease to 20 percent. The unemployment is also expected to be reduced to 4.8 percent.

“We need to change our society and young people’s opinion about colleges. College is a complex of training and production processes with technology-equipped classrooms, workshops and laboratories that collaborate with leading manufacturers. The ministry implements large scale projects for equipping the colleges with material resources. The academic staff also use the practice-oriented teaching and learning methods,” Technical and Vocational Education Department head Nasymzhan Ospanova told The Astana Times.

Study ranges from one month to three and a-half years, with day and evening classes and distance learning. There is also a workplace education programme.

“It is important for young people to enter the colleges to obtain professional qualifications that will give them the opportunity to earn money and to find a good job. Colleges use the best learning experience. The students learn practical working skills from specialists in production,” she said.

Approximately 106,500 people will be attracted to the trainings from 2017-2021, with an annual reception of 21,000 applicants. In addition, 214,000 individuals will be involved in short-term training. The total programme will involve 320,500 people. A participant will be able to receive up to three qualifications as a stone dresser or tiler-bricklayer and continue his or her education to obtain the professional qualifications of middle managers as a technician-builder.

The ministry has been developing educational programmes focusing on the best international practices that include the ability to develop up to three related qualifications for the educational credit system. This will allow specialists to be in demand in the labour market and continue their studies after any period of time, if necessary.

The socially-vulnerable groups, including high school graduates not enrolled in educational institutions, members of low-income families, foster children, children from large families, orphans and those deprived of parental care and persons with disabilities living in minor’s adaptation centres, are the priority.

Students will be provided with scholarships in the four monthly calculated index (MCI), or 9,076 tenge (US$28), hot meals, travel expenses for the entire period of study and accommodation costs of five MCI per month, or 11,345 tenge (US$35) for short-term training.

Those who are unemployed, regardless of registration at the population employment centres, self-employed and young people under the age of 29 also can take part in the short-term vocational training. The programme will be held one to six months on a dual basis at colleges, training centres and military-technical schools.

Individuals from remote areas can also get a free professional education studying at the mobile training centres established in five pilot areas, including the Akmola, Aktobe, East Kazakhstan, Kostanai and Mangistau regions.

The required documents include a copy of one’s identity card, educational documents (a certificate or diploma), health certificate and, if available, a certificate confirming social status.

Employment centres will cooperate to find jobs for those who complete the training. The working group consisting of representatives from local education, employment and youth organisations and law enforcement will carry out explanatory campaigns and search for candidates at rural and urban local administrations beginning in March.

Regional commissions are set to make a list of colleges, professions and occupations. Regional education departments will sign an agreement on training with the colleges according to the commission’s results. Colleges with a license for educational activity and a three-year experience in the field of technical and vocational education are permitted to take part in the project.

Training in the technical, agricultural, technological and service sectors will be conducted by a modular programme with a two-level training model. The length of training depends on the chosen specialty.

The educational institutions, regional Chamber of Entrepreneurs and local administrations will provide all the necessary information.

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French photographer builds supernatural Astana, calls it “Utopia of the 21st Century”

Thu, 2017-02-09 01:34

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

ASTANA – Famous French photographer Jean-Francois Rauzier has created his own supernatural dreamlike Astana. The “Hyper Astana” photo exhibition featuring his latest works is open at the Palace of Peace and Harmony until Feb. 12.

Rauzier has transformed the city according to his vision, adding magic and grandeur to the modern architecture. Working in some ways like an artist, he has made a collection of artworks depicting all the famous attractions presented in an epic postmodern style.

“My first emotional shock was triggered by the city’s futuristic buildings. Astana is the utopia of the 21st century in the middle of the steppe,” the photographer said.

Inspired by the unusual mixture of Eastern and Western architecture, Rauzier took 80,000 photos or 5,000-10,000 pictures of every building to be able to produce the collection. Using digital technology, Rauzier cut, moved and re-constructed the buildings and created new and fantastic urban landscapes.

The collection is part of his animal series. The images feature exotic animals in the most unexpected places, such as a deer grazing in the Akorda, a giraffe climbing up the Astana Library or an elephant passing by the Palace of Independence, creating an illusion of the world after people.

The photos rarely depict people, except for mysterious man wearing a raincoat and hat with his hands tied behind his back. The image reminds of the photographer himself, who has escaped into a dream.

Rauzier started photography when he was 14. He had to wait for more than thirty years for digital technology to develop to be able to re-create his visions in a photograph.


Rauzier created a “hyperphoto” in 2012 inspired by hyperrealism, a genre of painting resembling a high-resolution photograph. His hyperphoto helps the artist to deal with reality and build an imaginary world where he feels more comfortable. He combines both infinitely large and infinitely small elements in a single image, creating new space and time. The artist also questions common human perceptions of science, progress, utopia, culture, oppression and liberty.

“I think the artist’s mission is to channel new ideas into the world. In some missionary book, I read a quote that said that every person has a role to play: someone nurtures, someone heals, but the most important role is given to the artist. He has the privilege of seeing a small piece of heaven which he can channel here, on Earth,” Rauzier told the

The Paris-based photographer is internationally acclaimed. His artworks, whimsical photographs and baroque masterpieces have been exhibited in almost every major art venue in Paris, London, New York, Moscow, Los Angeles, Cannes, Istanbul, Brussels, Barcelona, Washington, Hong Kong and Singapore, among others.


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Officials Discuss Developing Nomadic Tourism, Other Challenges at Tourism Conference

Thu, 2017-02-09 01:20

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

ASTANA – Tourism officials discussed ways to boost domestic tourism, including promoting nomadic tourism, environmental tourism and working in conjunction with the government, during a Feb. 1 tourism development meeting.

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“These two types of tourism (nomadic and environmental tourism) need more support from the state, although they are among the most popular and promising trends in the world. I believe that we need to develop this sphere through the introduction of our national features,” Kazakh Tourist Association director Rashida Shaikenova said at the meeting, reports.

“Introduction of amendments and additions to the legislation in the sphere of tourism is the most important task at the moment for the country. The President pointed on the need to create business opportunities for development during his latest address. Given designated tasks, I believe that today we need to work on the tourism law,” Shaikenova stressed.

Marat Igali, director of the Tourism Industry Department spoke about the potential, priorities and constraints of tourism development in Kazakhstan. According to him, only four regions of Kazakhstan have tourism administration.

“The cluster programme of tourism development in Kazakhstan contains six clusters, including Mangistau – Caspian Gates Kenderli, Revival of the Silk Road initiative in the South Kazakhstan region, Free Cultural Zone in Almaty, the Pearl of Altai in the Eastern Kazakhstan, Shchuchinsk-Burabai resort area and Astana – Heart of Eurasia. I want to emphasise that the cluster programme is closely linked with the Cultural Policy Concept of Kazakhstan developed by the Ministry of Culture and Sports,” Igali said.

Minister of Culture and Sports Arystanbek Mukhamediuly, who will take over the responsibilities over promoting tourism from the Ministry for Investment and Development, focused on the need for a balanced approach to the development of tourism in Kazakhstan, improvement of tourist attractiveness in the eyes of foreign and domestic travellers, as well increased training for tourism industry staff.

“It is necessary to amend the Tourism Industry Development Concept of Kazakhstan with the participation of Kazakhstan’s leading specialists and experts in the field of tourism. We need to ensure the government regulation of the industry and support in promoting our country as a tourism destination,” Mukhamediuly concluded.

According to the Jan. 25 presidential decree, the Ministry for Investment and Development of Kazakhstan was reorganised with the transfer of its functions and powers in the field of tourism activities to the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Kazakhstan

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Slow living enthusiast promotes idea in Kazakhstan, few takers so far

Thu, 2017-02-09 01:13

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

ASTANA – In our fast-paced, high-tech daily life, people tend to forget what really matters. “Kinfolk” magazine reminds us of some eternal values and the need to take time to enjoy the little things.

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Founded in 2011, “Kinfolk” is a Copenhagen-based, independent publication that explores ways for readers to simplify their lives, cultivate community and spend more time with family and friends. The magazine is international and its content is not geographically tied to a certain country.

Slow living in no way means leaving your responsibilities behind, being a couch potato or smoking bamboo. It promotes correctly prioritising and enjoying life.

“It is about understanding your nature, so that you could live with the tempo and priorities that suit only you. There is no universal format to it,” entrepreneur, Kinfolk online kiosk founder and slow living movement enthusiast Nastia Goncharova told The Astana Times in a recent interview.

Nastia Goncharova Photo credit:

The magazine focuses on the artistic side of life, she noted, as the content is accompanied by the lives of creative people, pretty photos, interesting experiments, recipes and inspiring stories.

A studio in Taganrog, Russia received the right to translate “Kinfolk” into Russian and issued the edition for 18 months. Working in partnership, Goncharova initially served as a distributer. Due to financial reasons, however, the publishing house refused to continue the translation and the version is no longer available.

Although the Russian magazine was half the price of the global edition, it was still expensive (3,500 tenge – US$10.70) for the Kazakh market. People were fearful of sending money to strangers at an unknown bank account, so Goncharova opened an Internet kiosk for transparency and for customers to have a clear understanding of the process and products. She also founded an online Kinfolk community.

Photo credit: Nastia Goncharova

“I don’t think slow living is one of the movements that will take over the world, but in fact by arranging small gatherings or leading Kinfolk’s Facebook page, although sluggishly, discussions still take place,” she said.

“It is obvious that those who had a corporate life for a long time most often reach a peak where they feel burned out; they are out of inspiration and life is in autopilot mode. Many begin wondering what is going wrong; they have money, career, status but not quality of life because of too many responsibilities, things moving forward too fast, too much technologically and so on. They begin talking, looking for books about self-development, sharing advice and eventually decide how to slow things down for themselves a little,” she added.

Slow living is not as popular in Kazakhstan as it is in Europe. The movement seems to appeal more to intellectuals and those who overcame a crucial moment or crisis and who now opt for a less hectic life. The magazine interests them, as reading it allows them to reflect on the articles. Those who live peacefully and with no significant responsibilities do not have such problems, said Goncharova.

“The most interesting thing that is seen from the original ‘Kinfolk’ magazine is that the very notion of slow living transforms dynamically. The way it was so timid five years ago, the ‘let’s slow down a little and look around’ concept has gone far forwards now,” she added.

Slow living is not about doing things at an unhurried pace; it is about the need to finding one’s own harmony, whether that is food, friends’ gatherings or striving to take more time for what is dear.

Photo credit: Nastia Goncharova

Goncharova believes interest in the slow living movement exists in Kazakhstan, but is certainly a niche audience. It is for people who work and travel a lot and think about the quality of life, those in constant search of a creative way to navigate life.

About 150 copies of the Russian issue published every three months used to sell out across Kazakhstan. Some issues even needed reordering.

Since last summer, Goncharova has been offering only the original English language edition. The cost is 7,500 tenge (about US$23), quite a significant price for many people.

“Despite many young people in Kazakhstan studying abroad or having work experience with foreign companies, they lack reading skills. They all like to flip through, but nobody delves into its written content. Apart from aesthetic looks and dramatic pictures, this magazine has interesting writing and topics. Very few buy the English language magazine, 10 people per season at most,” she added.

Goncharova offers the magazine in Bookla, a small shop in Almaty that sells vinyl music and publications in English. “Kinfolk” updated its website and most of the content is offered on Readers can then subscribe if they like the format.

“Plenty of English language literature on the slow living movement is available nowadays. TED speakers have presented theirs speech on this topic many times,” she said.


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Astana’s Uber Drivers Find Flexibility, Income

Wed, 2017-02-08 06:47

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

ASTANA – Uber has become very popular in the Kazakh capital, offering high quality service, safety and affordable prices and the opportunity to have a part time job for those who want to earn money using their driving skills and own vehicles at any time of the day or night.

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“I had to work as unofficial taxi driver for years, but it never was my main job. I used the job to make both ends meet when I had financial problems. I am a self-employed entrepreneur for more than 10 years and, basically, I can say that my small company is quiet successful. But, sometimes, when we don’t get enough orders and I have to fulfil my obligations, paying rent for my office, taxes and salaries to my employees, I do work as a taxi driver. In such hard times, I used to work as an official taxi driver and it helped me to solve my problems,” said Merkhat Bayangazin, 35, a businessman from Astana in an interview with The Astana Times on Feb. 2.

Uber was the first international taxi company represented in Astana and now it competes with Yandex taxi, which was the second. Two major companies have big fleets of cars and offer quality conditions not only for clients, but also for taxi drivers.

“The only thing I didn’t like in the job is that it isn’t safe. Of course, the job had many other disadvantages, such as necessity to drive across the streets to find clients, but the worst is that nobody can guarantee that you will be safe and come back home to your children each day. Everybody knows that working as a taxi driver, especially late in the evening or at night, is dangerous,” Bayangazin said.

“Uber, Yandex and any other official taxi services give you an opportunity to earn and do it safely. The first one is a very flexible system, where you can start working any time of the day and night and finish any time as well. I really like that. As I already had a business, it was extremely easy to start working in Uber. Of course, you need to have a middle-aged or better a new, well maintained and clean car, all your documents, including your car insurance have to be valid and that’s it. Go to the Uber office, download their mobile application and start working,” he added.

“Usually, I start working at 9 p.m. and it takes me two hours to make 3-5 trips and get back to my home. I specially choose this time, because I work from 9 am till 6 pm. After work I go home and have some rest and have a dinner with my family. At 9 pm traffic isn’t heavy and all my trips don’t take too much time. I don’t work everyday, but I do that very often and sometimes it is very profitable to work on weekends: traffic isn’t heavy at all and Uber pays more. My salary isn’t so high and I have a real estate mortgage. So there is no great choice for me,” said Sayat Aitanov, 26, a sales manager from Astana.

“I have many friends and relatives working in Uber. Some of them are young ladies. I like the job, but I can surely say that the money I earn in the taxi service isn’t easy. Also, you have to understand that using your own car for this job will decrease its life cycle. So, if I have a possibility to have another job with the same flexibility and opportunities, I would change it. But now, I even can’t imagine, what company can offer me that,” Aitanov said.

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Kazakhstan Wins Record Number of Medals at Almaty Universiade, Ranks Second in Team Standings

Wed, 2017-02-08 05:59

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

ASTANA – The Almaty 2017 Winter Universiade, running between Jan. 29 and Feb. 8, has been the most successful for Team Kazakhstan in the history of its participation in the world student games.

One day short of the finish, Kazakh students have won 34 medals, including 11 gold, 7 silver and 16 bronze and have guaranteed themselves second place in the unofficial team standings. Russia has dominated the games, with 67 medals, of which 27 are gold. South Korean students have also claimed 11 gold medals with five silver and five bronze medals.

The Universiade’s inaugural gold for the hosts came from biathlete Alina Raikova who finished first in the individual 15-kilometre race. Another representative of Kazakhstan, Galina Vishnevskaya, won silver in the same race.

“I have been struggling throughout this season because of a number of failures and injuries. So, my goal in this race was to win over myself rather than winning the race. I managed to concentrate, to cover the track, shoot well and avoid mistakes. It was hard and I was nervous but I tried to cope with emotions to achieve a good result,” said Raikova.

Two days later, it was Vishnevskaya’s turn to climb the top as she triumphed in the 7.5-kilometre sprint race.

“I am very glad with my result. It was hard in the beginning though. The race was not going well, and I made quite a lot of mistakes. I erred at the first shooting but tried to improve and not to think about it. So, it worked out in the end. I would like to thank the fans for their support. I can feel it [during a race], and it helps to achieve good results. There are many important competitions ahead – the World Cup, the Asian Winter Games, so I will continue training to further enhance my performance,” the champion said.

On Feb. 7, Vishnevskaya added one more gold medal to her collection as she finished first in the 12.5-kilometre mass start. Also, the Kazakh team earned silver in 4*6-kilometre + 4*7.5-kilometre mixed relay, while in the men’s 10-kilometre sprint Roman Yeremin won silver and bronze in the 10-kilometre and 15-kilometre, with Anton Pantov adding one more bronze in the latter race.

However, it was the Kazakh freestylers’ team who delivered the most impressive performance in front of the home crowd. They secured almost half, namely five, of the total of 11 gold medals claimed by Kazakh students at the games so far.

Dmitry Reiherd and Yulia Galysheva brought Team Kazakhstan two gold medals each. The two won in the men’s and women’s individual and dual moguls respectively while duo Zhanbota Aldabergenova and Baglan Inkarbek claimed gold in mixed team aerials. In individual ski aerials Zhibek Arapbayeva won silver and Aldabergenova grabbed bronze. Pavel Kolmakov climbed the podium along with Reiherd in the men’s individual moguls, claiming bronze.

“The Shymbulak track meets all international standards and is very challenging. There was a strong competition today but (I am glad that) we managed to show a good result. Ahead of the Universiade, we trained really hard, participated in (a number of) World Cup events, and came to Almaty at the peak of our form. Today, we proved to everyone we can win (such contests),” Reiherd said following the first of his victories.

According to Galysheva, who two years earlier also won moguls at the Universiade in Spain, as the defending champion, she felt a special responsibility to perform well in front of so many of her compatriots.

“I feel great! Winning at home means a lot to me. I am happy the Universiade is being held in Kazakhstan so I was aiming for nothing less than the top position. Of course, I wanted very much to defend my title and I am glad it happened,” Galysheva said at a press conference.

Kazakhstan’s cross-country skiers also performed well. Ivan Luft won in the men’s ski sprint while Anna Stoyan came third in women’s race. Three days later, Anna Shevchenko and Olzhas Klimin claimed gold in Mixed Team Sprint. Both women’s and men’s team won silver in relays, 3.5-kilometre and 4.7.5 respectively. Shevchenko also won two individual bronzes in two 5-kilometre races, individual and pursuit.

On Feb. 4, the first place in men’s figure skating went to the home crowd’s favourite Denis Ten. In short programme, he presented a completely new programme to the theme of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” The 2014 Sochi Olympics bronze medallist eventually claimed gold in Almaty with 266.97 points. Silver went to a strong Japanese skater Keiji Tanaka (252.09), and bronze to Alexander Mayorov from Sweden (246.56).

“Now, when the figure skating competition of 2017 Universiade is over, once again, I want to thank those who made this competition so spectacular, so high-level. It was a great honour to take part in it. I debuted on the ice in Almaty. I have achieved my goal and am now at a new stage in my development (as a sportsman). I cannot stop now. I need to grow from start to start to be ready for the 2018 Olympics. I am 23, but I still learn something new each time. Figure skating is developing and so am I. I had to take certain measures to cope with some challenges. What I showed on the ice today is a bit different from what I have showed before,” said Denis Ten at a press conference.

In speed skating, Yekaterina Aidova twice won bronze medals in women’s 1,000-metre and 1,500-metre races.

Short track skaters brought quite a few medals to the national student team’s tally as well. Nurbergen Zhumagaziyev came in third in the 1.500-metre race. The young athlete from Uralsk won the World Cup stage this season before this achievement at the student games. His teammates Abzal Azhgaliyev and Denis Nikisha won silver and bronze in the 500-metre race. Nikisha also won bronze on Feb. 7 in the 1,000-metre. Relay teams placed third in 3,000-metre race for women and 5,000-metre race for men.

On the last day of the world student games, the 30-kilometre mass start for men in cross-country skiing promises a medal to Kazakhstan as well. Also, the third-place match and the final of the ice hockey tournament among men will be contested. Team Kazakhstan was playing Czech Republic in a semi-final at press time.

The closing ceremony is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Overall, with the record individual medal count, the historically highest place in team rankings and some spectacular performances in front of the home crowd, the Winter Universiade 2017 in Almaty can be marked a big success for Kazakhstan’s student athletes.

Kazakh fans hope to see similarly successful results from the national team at the Asian Winter Games beginning Feb. 19 in Sapporo, Japan.

It is hoped the Winter Universiade has served as an inspiration to aspiring young Kazakh athletes who have had the opportunity to witness historic feats of athleticism.

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Kazakhstan, Czech Republic Work to Reach Cooperation Potential

Tue, 2017-02-07 01:15

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

ASTANA – Chairperson of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic Jan Hamáček met with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Speaker of the Mazhilis (lower house of Parliament) Nurlan Nigmatulin and visited a Kazakh-Czech business forum during his Feb. 6 official visit to Astana.

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During the meeting with the Kazakh President, the sides discussed bilateral cooperation, including economic and political cooperation.

“Your visit is very important. We have initially established good relations with the Czech Republic. President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman has previously visited our country. Now we are expecting him at the opening of the EXPO 2017 exhibition,” Nazarbayev said.

Hamáček noted Kazakhstan’s successes over the last quarter-century, congratulated the country on its 25th anniversary of independence and wished the country continued success.

Nigmatulin emphasised the Czech Republic is an important political and economic partner of Kazakhstan in Central and Eastern Europe. The current visit, the chairperson of the Mazhilis emphasised, would give a new impetus to bilateral cooperation, particularly inter-parliamentary relations. The sides discussed the key directions of the address of President Nazarbayev to the people of Kazakhstan as well as the proposed constitutional reforms.

The parties also noted Astana and Prague have friendly relations made possible through high-level contacts. The meetings of the heads of state confirmed a desire to deepen bilateral cooperation.

The sides particularly noted Kazakhstan’s tenure as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the coming two years. Special attention was given to the Astana talks on a Syrian settlement, which were held with the support of the Kazakh President. The parliamentarians discussed Kazakhstan’s expanded cooperation with the European Union and other European structures, as well as cultural and humanitarian, trade and economic cooperation.

Talking about Kazakhstan’s development over the years of independence, Hamáček noted, “The success is unique and is directly related to the personality of President Nazarbayev.”

Hamáček said the President of Kazakhstan’s contribution is significant in regional and global politics. Noting the initiative of the Kazakh head of state on the proposed constitutional reforms, the Czech MP stressed this step is worthy of an experienced politician with a keen sense of responsibility for his country. The sides noted the importance of the parliamentary component and called for expanding inter-parliamentary cooperation.

During Hamáček’s participation in the Kazakh-Czech business forum, he again confirmed the participation of Czech President Zeman at the opening ceremony of the EXPO 2017 exhibition.

According to Kazakh Vice Minister of Energy Bakytzhan Dzhaksaliyev, 185 joint ventures involving Czech capital are registered in Kazakhstan. Dzhaksaliyev said the Czech Republic exports cars, spare parts, electrical equipment, furniture, glass products and pharmaceutical products to Kazakhstan.

“An important area of bilateral relations for Kazakhstan is mechanical engineering, in particular, the expansion of the Czech machine-building technologies. Assembly lines for Skoda Octavia and President Edition cars have been launched in Kazakhstan. Since 2005, Skoda production has amounted to 19,888 vehicles worth almost 70 billion tenge,” Dzhaksaliyev said.

However, the vice minister noted Kazakh–Czech partnership has not reached its potential. Indicators of turnover between the two countries remain low, including due to lower commodity and energy prices.

“Gross inflow of direct investment from the Czech Republic to Kazakhstan starting from 2005 to the nine months of 2016 amounted to only $186 million. Favourable conditions have been created for fruitful cooperation between the two countries. The Kazakh-Czech intergovernmental commission plays a key role in such economic cooperation, in particular in the economic, industrial and scientific-technical spheres. The ninth session of the commission is to be held in Prague on Feb. 28. A total of 16 agreements have been signed between Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic,” Dzhaksaliyev said.

He also informed Czech businesspersons about Kazakhstan’s investment climate and conditions for business development that have attracted more than $200 billion of foreign direct investment over the past ten years.

“We will welcome the participation of Czech businesses in the projects of the development of domestic high-tech export-oriented production in accordance with the priorities of our industrial and innovation policy,” he concluded.

Hamáček emphasised the delegation came to Kazakhstan to “give proof of the political dialogue between our two countries.”

“For us, Kazakhstan is the largest trading partner in Central Asia, and the real possibilities of our cooperation are much higher. Over the past two years, there has been a decrease in our trade. It is not that the Czech and Kazakh goods have lost their quality and appeal. Global external factors have played their role in this. Those include the continued drop in oil prices and other raw materials, trade and economic sanctions against Russia. I am sure that our countries have the opportunities that we need to find and develop,” Hamáček stated.

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Trilateral Working Group on Syrian Ceasefire Holds First Technical Meeting in Astana

Tue, 2017-02-07 00:56

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

ASTANA – The joint working group for monitoring the ceasefire regime in Syria held its first technical meeting behind closed doors Feb. 6 in the Kazakh capital. Representatives of Russia, Turkey, Iran, as well as the United Nations discussed the details of implementing the ceasefire agreement from December 2016.

Jordan also participated as an observer, marking the first time an Arab nation, other than Syria itself, took part in this process launched last month.

The head of the Russian delegation, Armed Forces’ General Headquarters Central Operating Department Deputy Chief Major General Stanislav Gadzhimagomedov, made a statement for the media following the meeting.

“Today, the delegations of Russia, Turkey and Iran, as well as the United Nations representatives, have held the first session of the working group which was formed following the arrangements made here in Astana on Jan. 23-24. The participants of the meeting discussed the progress of the ceasefire regime observance in Syria, the special measures of creating the effective monitoring and control mechanism to ensure full observance of the ceasefire regime, prevention of any provocative acts and definition of all modalities of the regime,” he said.

The participants also discussed measures of mutual trust and free access of humanitarian aid, he noted.

The delegations confirmed their readiness to continue interaction for the benefit of full observance of the ceasefire regime, Gadzhimagomedov added.

“All the members of the delegations express sincere gratitude to the Kazakh side for providing the platform here in Astana to continue the Astana process and for creating favourable conditions to hold the first meeting of the working group,” he declared.

“During the talks, the Jordanian side presented very interesting information. They described the situation in the south of Syria and the readiness of the opposition groups in the southern provinces to join the ceasefire regime and fight against international terrorist organisations, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra, which operate in southern Syria,” said Gadzhimagomedov.

“In general, Turkey, Iran and UN officials have expressed their interest in the report and willingness to continue to work with the Jordanian side,” he added.

The technical meeting came only two weeks after the sides reached an agreement to create a trilateral mechanism aimed at monitoring the ceasefire regime established in late December. The parties to the negotiations included the Syrian government, 13 Syrian opposition groups and guarantor states – Russia, Iran and Turkey – as well as UN Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura. U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan George Krol also participated in the meeting as an observer.

The talks resulted in the adoption of a three-party declaration establishing, among other decisions, a mechanism of controlling the ceasefire regime observance. The meeting was presented as another step towards the resumption of peace talks in Geneva under UN auspices.

Earlier, Staffan de Mistura announced the postponement of the next round of the Geneva talks to “give a chance for this Astana initiative to actually implement itself.” The negotiations, expected to take place Feb. 8, have now been re-scheduled for Feb. 20.

According to experts, a step forward in the Syrian settlement process was made in the capital. For the first time since the beginning of the conflict, representatives of the Syrian government and the armed, rather than political, opposition met in the same room. The talks were not held directly, but with the help of intermediaries, which is considered a big step towards the settlement.

Kazakhstan was able to bring together representatives of the Syrian government and the armed opposition. Kazakhstan once again had a chance to act as a host country that creates favourable conditions for constructive work and dialogue on pressing issues. The nation hosted a similar series of meetings in Almaty on Iran’s nuclear programme in February and April 2013, which contributed to unblocking the negotiations and promptly led to a settlement of the issue in 2015.

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Barys Nears Securing Place in Gagarin Cup Playoffs

Tue, 2017-02-07 00:49

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

ASTANA – With a narrow 1:0 victory on home ice over Dinamo Riga last weekend, the Barys hockey club virtually secured its place in the Gagarin Cup playoffs three rounds before the end of the regular season of the Continental Hockey League (KHL).

Now, the “snow leopards” occupy the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference table with 87 points, having a comfortable advantage over their main rivals – the League’s first Chinese club – Kunlun Red Star, with its 83 points, HC Admiral Vladivostok and HC Salavat Yulaev Ufa, with 82 points each (in addition, the Ufa club played one more game).

Barys will play the remaining three games at home. On St. Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, they will host  HC Sibir Novosibirsk, and then on Feb. 16 and 18 – Metallurg Novokuznetsk and Avangard Omsk. Perhaps the most challenging will be a rivalry with Sibir, which has a real chance of getting into the playoffs. At the same time, Metallurg has long lost its chances while Avangard, on the contrary, has long ago secured the second place in the East.

In the three matches, Barys needs to score only two points to secure a place in the playoffs, or seven to keep fifth place in the East. Kunlun Red Star and Admiral, in contrast to Barys, will play their last games of the regular season in tough away matches with strong teams from the Western Conference, and, therefore, risk missing on the desired points. All this can significantly simplify the Astana club’s task of reaching the coveted eight of the Gagarin Cup playoffs.

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Global Index Ranks KazISS Among Top Think Tanks in the World

Tue, 2017-02-07 00:42

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

ASTANA – The country’s top think tank, the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President (KazISS), was recently ranked among the world’s top think tanks, the institution’s press service reported Jan. 31.

“KazISS’s first-ever rating in the Global Go To Think Tank Index, Defence and National Security Rating is higher than ever,” the headline of the release reads.

“A think tank from Kazakhstan takes a leading position among similar institutions from all over the world for the first time,” the press release continues. “According to the 2016 Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) of the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, KazISS was listed among 150 best think tanks of the other 6,000 analytical institutes and centres in the world. Earlier KazISS had been included into the rating under certain individual categories.”

KazISS had been ranked 148th in the category Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-U.S.); second in the Top Think Tanks in Central Asia; 95th in the Top Defence and National Security; 27th in the Top Energy and Resource Policy Think Tanks and 56th in the Best Government Affiliated Think Tanks.

According to TTCSP, The Global Go To Think Tank Index is the result of an international survey of more than 1,950 scholars, public and private donors, policy makers, and journalists who helped rank more than 6,500 think tanks using a set of 18 criteria developed by the TTCSP. The purpose of the index is to help improve the profile and performance of think tanks while highlighting the important work they do for governments and civil societies around the world.

“TTCSP conducts research on the role policy institutes play in governments and civil societies around the world,” the report explains. “Often referred to as the think tanks’ think tank, TTCSP examines the evolving role and character of public policy research organisations. Over the last 26 years, the TTCSP has developed and led a series of global initiatives that have helped bridge the gap between knowledge and policy in critical policy areas such as international peace and security, globalisation and governance, international economics, environmental issues, information and society, poverty alleviation, and healthcare and global health. These international collaborative efforts are designed to establish regional and international networks of policy institutes and communities that improve policy making while strengthening democratic institutions and civil societies around the world.”

“Since its inception in 1989, the TTCSP has focused on collecting data and conducting research on think tank trends and the role think tanks play as civil society actors in the policymaking process. In 2007, the TTCSP developed and launched the global index of think tanks, which is designed to identify and recognise centres of excellence in all the major areas of public policy research and in every region of the world. To date TTCSP has provided technical assistance and capacity building programs in 81 countries. We are now working to create regional and global networks of think tanks in an effort to facilitate collaboration and the production of a modest yet achievable set of global public goods. Our goal is to create lasting institutional and state-level partnerships by engaging and mobilising think tanks that have demonstrated their ability to produce high quality policy research and shape popular and elite opinion and actions for public good,” the report stated.

KazISS was established in 1993 in the then capital city of Almaty and in 2014, the think tank relocated to Astana.


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Malaysian Experts Consult Kazakhstan on Halal Food Production

Tue, 2017-02-07 00:39

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

ASTANA – Malaysian food industry experts recently visited production facilities and developed recommendations to improve the quality of halal (permissible to use by Islamic law) food produced in Kazakhstan.

The Kazakh Committee for Technical Regulation and Metrology under the Ministry for Investment and Development has launched a three-year project titled Reverse Linkage, implemented in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank and German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ).

The Malaysian delegation was invited to assess the local halal industry in January as part of the project. The delegation included experts from the Malaysian Islamic Affairs Division, the Department of Standards Malaysia and Mardi Holding Research Institute..

According to Malaysian experts, Kazakhstan has all the right conditions for increasing exports of halal products. They believe that the most promising sector could be cattle breeding.  The delegation visited food production enterprises of the city.

“Your factories are actually indicating that they can actually produce products of quality and can be exported. I think that is one of the fundamentals of this particular mission – to actually look at the possibility of how to strengthen your halal logo and halal set, so that there will be more possibilities for exports of the producers of meat products or poultry that can be exported into the Middle East or targeted at Muslim countries,” Anas Ahmad Nasarudin, CEO of Mardi Holding told Kazakh TV.

 “Malaysian experts gave their recommendations on a systematic, step-by-step development of the industry. They emphasised three main components: first, development of the standards, second, defining the government’s role as the state authorities should determine the certification process, and third, targeting the consumers. At present, worldwide halal sales make up about one fifth of all food sales and this figure is increasing annually. The products are now in demand among approximately two billion people,” said monitoring head of the Kazakh Technical Regulation and Metrology Committee Aigul Kassymova.

According to Kassymova, a working group will soon be created, including private food producers and government authorities such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Committee for Religious Affairs and Committee for Consumer Protection. The working group will develop a framework and standards to ensure improved halal production and strengthening of export capacities in the sector.

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Universiade Athletes Impressed with Almaty, Opening Ceremony

Mon, 2017-02-06 00:35

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

ASTANA – More than 2,000 athletes from 57 countries have converged on Almaty for Universiade 2017, with many visiting Kazakhstan and the country’s capital for the first time. A few of those athletes have shared their impressions of the host country, Almaty and the opening ceremony.

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“Almaty is a very nice city. I have only positive emotions. You have very interesting buildings and magnificent sports facilities. It is a little cold in the city right now but it is normal for winter. It is my first time in Kazakhstan and I like your country. Everything is great,” Korea’s curling national team player Eun Soo Oh shared with

Other athletes from colder climates, however, feel quite comfortable with Almaty’s climate, said a coordinator at the athlete’s village.

“I saw that Norwegians, Canadians and Americans wear shorts and sneakers. It seems like such weather is warm enough for them,” he noted, according to

Eun Soo Oh also said the gala opening of the ceremony impressed him the most. The player described it as fantastic, interesting and breathtaking. A representative of Latvia’s team also said he loved Kazakhstan more after the opening ceremony.

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“I loved Kazakhstan much more after the first days of staying here. We can feel that we are taken care of while what was seen at the opening ceremony impressed. … My debut as a coach coincided with my arrival to Kazakhstan. As a player for the Latvian team, I had a chance to see the opening of the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City and Turin. Your opening ceremony surpasses the opening of the Olympics in some aspects. Everything was beautiful, creative and positive,” Atvars Tribuncovs stressed, according to

He added the team will try to make it to mountains around Almaty and have a ride along the cable railway. Tribuncovs said he hoped to establish stronger ties between the two countries by personally communicating with Kazakh residents.

A book that was recently presented and released in honour of Universiade introduces readers to the history of university sports and worldwide Universiades from the past century to present day. The authors collected information about sports achievements of youth from all continents.

“Fifty-six Universiades were held during the entire history of university sports. We told about each one of them in details, such as in which city they were held, what type of sports and the names of winners,” one of the authors of the book, President of Student Sports Federation Kairat Zakiryanov told news channel.

At press time, Kazakhstan had 10 gold, two silver and nine bronze medals in the 12 sports offered at the Universiade, and was firmly in the second team place trailing only Russia. The performance is already a record for Kazakh athletes. The games will continue until Feb. 8.

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Why Tourism Industry Issues Are Transferred to Another Ministry

Mon, 2017-02-06 00:25

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

A recent decision to transfer functions and responsibilities in the field of tourism from the Ministry for Investment and Development to the Ministry of Culture and Sports was made after consideration of international experience of those countries where the same state body works with the tourism and culture issues. For example, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Korea, Malaysia, Turkey and Switzerland.

Marat Igali

Countries such as Singapore, Indonesia and China promote national tourism through promotion of cultural brands, whereas Japan almost does not advertise its investment potential, primarily focusing on promoting its unique cultural tourism.

Kazakhstan’s rich historical and cultural heritage can become an effective tool for the development of the country as a strong tourist destination. The increase of tourist flows will positively affect the promotion of our country’s culture abroad, as well as improve the image of Kazakhstan generally.

Taking into account international practices in order to enhance the efficiency of the sector’s management while the process of reorganisation is underway, the issue of raising the status of the authorised department is under consideration. And the Minister of Culture and Sports has in fact instructed to prepare for the department to be reorganised into a committee.

I want to emphasise that all employees of the Tourism Industry Department continue to work at their posts. All plans and activities on Kazakhstan’s tourism industry development will be continued.

In the framework of the President’s instruction, we continue carrying on the work on updating the concept of Kazakhstan’s tourism industry development up to 2020 with the major emphasis on the development of domestic tourism. Those who are interested can email suggestions to

The work on reducing administrative barriers and improving the migration regime for foreign tourists is ongoing in the framework of the operational working group created to address the problematic issues of tourism industry development under the Kazakh government.

In addition, the work is held on separate road maps of the following resort areas: Shchuchinsk-Burabai, Imantau-Shalkar, Alakol, Balkhash, Kapshagai, Saryagash, Bayanaul, Katon-Karagai, as well as Kenderli in the Mangistau region. An interdepartmental working commission for consideration and selection of proposals on development of these resorts was created. Currently, it considers proposals from the regions.

As part of the transfer of government functions into the competitive environment, we are working on establishing an organisation for the management of tourist destinations at the national and regional levels. The main task of such an organisation will be to ensure awareness about Kazakhstan’s tourist potential through active marketing, advertising and promotion of the product.

The effective cooperation on tourism industry development with specialised committees and structural divisions of the Ministry for Investment and Development (Civil Aviation Committee, Investment Committee, Transportation Committee, Committee on Highways, etc.) will be maintained and continued.

We have many plans and work to be done. We will try to be as open as possible to the public and media. We look forward for the support of the country’s tourist community and all the citizens concerned about tourism.

Let’s develop tourism in Kazakhstan!

 The author is Director of the Department of Tourism Industry of the Ministry for Investment and Development of Kazakhstan.

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