Monitoring of the socio-political situation in Kazakhstan

  • 27.11.2012
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Domestic policy

According to the result of expert studies, the level of corruption and labour conflict is increasing in Kazakhstan, while the level of security is decreasing, and the principle of separation of powers is being violated.

According to The World Justice Project organisation, Kazakhstan ranked 89th out of 97 in terms of restriction of powers of the authorities. The organisation notes that in Kazakhstan, the executive authorities politically interfere in the work of the legislative and judicial bodies, as well as in the electoral process. Also, in terms of the level of openness of the government, Kazakhstan took 85th place in the world, and in terms of the observance of the fundamental rights of citizens - the 74th globally.

Also, according to Transparency International, the global anti-corruption organisation, in the year 2012, Kazakhstan ranked 133rd on the Corruption Perception Index. This suggests that Kazakhstan is regarded by its citizens as a highly-corrupt country.

According to an international group of independent experts from the Institute for Economics and Peace, in the Global Peace Index, Kazakhstan ranked 105th of 158 states. The index measures the level of violence on the basis of different factors: the level of military spending, the percentage of prisoners (taking into account the level of democracy, corruption, education, and national welfare). Compared to previous years, the level of peacefulness dropped in Kazakhstan: in 2011, the country was in 94th place (out of 153 countries), while in 2009 it had occupied 83rd place (out of 143 countries).

At the same time, Kazakhstan still has a hidden potential for the onset of labour disputes, stated the Minister of Labour and Social Security Serik Abdenov. The main problem is dissatisfaction with the level of salaries and their late payment, which is most noticeable in the oil and gas sector. According to estimates of a representative of the public fund ‘Samruk-Kazyna’, Nurlan Erimbetov, on the eve of the anniversary of the tragedy in Zhanaozen, the proneness to labour conflicts is on an average level – ‘anticipation of conflict’. According to this classification, the highest level of a proneness to labour conflicts is ‘explosive situation’, while the lowest level is called a ‘normal situation’.

Amangeldy Aytkulov was found guilty of committing financial crimes. He is another officer, whom prosecutors considered responsible for the deterioration of the social situation in the city, which led to the tragic events of December 2011.

On the 12th of November, 2012, the Kyzylorda Specialised Inter-district Criminal Court sentenced a former Deputy Akim of Mangistau Province, Amangeldy Aytkulov, to 12 years in a strict regime prison with confiscation of property. Amangeldy Aytkulov was accused of taking a bribe and of abuse of power.

Earlier, the former Akims of Zhanaozen: Orak Sarbopeyev and Zhalgas Babakhanov had been sentenced,  to 10 and 2 years in prison respectively. As in the case of Amangeldy Aytkulov, the ex-officials had been convicted for committing ‘financial crimes’, and their trial had no direct relation to the Zhanaozen events.

Human rights

Violations during the preliminary investigation in the case of Askar Moldashev raise concerns about the possibility of falsification of evidence by the National Security Committee.

According to the results of the examination, during the personal search of Askar Moldashev, aspirin powder was found, and on the hand-wipe 0.0001 grams of ‘ecstasy’ was revealed. In the apartment of the detainee, according to public officers, 27  ‘ecstasy’ tablets were seized, which the police subsequently packed in plastic bags. Askar Moldashev faces a penalty of 10 to 15 years’ imprisonment with confiscation of property.

The Open Dialog Foundation has previously reported that on the 31st of October, 2012, the National Security Committee arrested Askar Moldashev, the brother of the owner and publisher of the ‘Golos Respubliki’ newspaper: Daniyar Moldashev. He was suspected of possessing drugs on a large scale with intent to distribute. The National Security Committee demanded that the detainee testify against the ‘Golos Respubliki’ newspaper. On the 2nd of November, Askar Moldashev’s arrest was sanctioned, and on the 9th of November, 2012, the court rejected an appeal filed by Askar Moldashev’s counsel and sustained the preventive measure in the form of remand.

Inessa Kisileva, Askar Moldashev’s counsel, revealed some fundamental inconsistencies in the search protocol as well as in the opinions of experts. Namely, before the examination, the experts opened bags with clips and seals, while during the search the police had not used any clips or any seals. On the 15th of November, 2012, the counsel met with her client, who is now remanded in the detention facility in Almaty. Askar Moldashev announced that the NSC workers had addressed him once again with the proposal to defame the ‘Golos Respubliki’ newspaper with a false testimony. Otherwise, the security forces threatened  to "get" the wife and child of the suspect, and to initiate other criminal cases against him in relation to his business matters.

It is expected that by the 10th of December, 2012, the investigation will be completed, and the case will be sent to the prosecutor’s Office.

Freedom of peaceful assembly

The police are arresting activists and journalists who demand that the political repression in Kazakhstan be stopped.

On the 12th of November, 2012, in Aktobe, a social activist Alima Abdirova was arrested and taken by force by 26 armed policemen to police station for taking part in a one-person picket. She demanded the release of the convicted labour union activist Roza Tuletayeva, and the discontinuance of harassment of independent journalists and human rights defenders. Previously, local authorities had denied Alima Abdirova’s request to carry out the picket. Along with her, a journalist of the national newspaper ‘Vzglyad’, Dmitriy Matveyev, was arrested; the police also made an attempt to seize his camera. Alima Abdirova and Dmitriy Matveyev were held at the station for one hour and subsequently released; still, no protocol of detention or of the seizure of articles has been drawn up.

In Uralsk, from the 5th of November, 2012,  within the action ‘Not a single day without a protest’,  every day, in the centre of the town one-person pickets are carried out, demanding that an end be put to political repression and political prisoners: Roza Tuletayeva, Vladimir Kozlov, Aron Atabek, Vadim Kuramshin be released. The police warn the protesters each day that they are violating the law and they have made several attempts to arrest activists.

Freedom of mass media

On the 20th of November, 2012, at the fifth ‘Media Kurultai’, a conferenceon the issues ofdevelopmentof Kazakhmassmedia market in Kazakhstan, the legal obstacles of journalistic activity and the increase of public financing of the media were aired openly. The conference was attended by owners and managers of the media outlets as well as members of the lower house of parliament and government officials.

Executive Director of the ‘Internews Kazakhstan’, Marzhan Elshibayeva drew attention to the fact that the draft of the new Criminal Code obliges journalists to reveal sources of information obtained during their journalistic investigation.

The Director of the ‘North-Kazakhstani Legal Media Centre’, Diana Okremova stated that for the last three years the volume of public procurement in the media has increased 10-fold, and now it amounts to more than $ 150 million. Still, an objective criticism of the government can be regarded as a failure to fulfil public procurement. In response, the Chairman of the Committee of Information and Archives of the Ministry of Culture and Information, Bolat Kalyanbekov, announced that the state was forced to fund some media outlets, as private media organisations are not interested in covering the activities of government officials. Political analyst Dosym Satpayev quoted research data which prove that Kazakhstan trusts rumours much more than the state media. According to the analyst, it is impossible to make Kazakh media competitive without introducing changes in the political system as a whole.

Terrorism

In Kazakhstan, the security bodies close the websites that promote terrorism, extremism, violence, and they stop the activities of religious associations. Experts say that extremism in Kazakhstan is evoked by social problems.

According to data quoted by the deputy chairman of the NSC, Kabdulkarim Abdikazimov, in the years 2011 and 2012 after the monitoring carried out by the NSC, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the General Prosecutor’s Office, 950 websites have been closed under the rulings of the judicial bodies. At present, the courts are considering more than 150 motions filed by the Prosecutor’s Office with a request to close the websites which are considered to be extremist.

On the 22th of November, 2012, the Head of the Department to Combat Extremism of the Criminal Police Committee Erkin Kaliyev stated that in 2012, the activity of 60 unregistered religious groups and sects has been stopped. Also, since the beginning of 2012, 25 criminal cases in relation to the crime of extremism have been initiated.

The Open Dialog Foundation is presenting a translation of the official comment made by the head of the investigation group of the NSC Department of Atyrau Province, Amangeldy Abulgaliyev. The representative of the National Security Committee is elaborating on the "prevention of terrorist acts" in Atyrau, during which suspects carried out suicide bombings, attempting to kill the policemen. Amangeldy Abulgaliyev denies that the NSC investigators have been subjected to pressure in the matter of recognition of certain suspects as terrorists.

The Open Dialog Foundation cannot comment on the reliability of this statement, but is concerned about the fact that such a large number of Kazakhs are willing to part with their lives, in order to kill government officials. Political analyst Talgat Mamyraiymov believes that poverty and an acute sense of social injustice are pushing citizens of Kazakhstan to extremist acts aimed at the authorities. And terrorist activity is, in fact, a consequence of the inter-elite warfare.

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