Kazakhstan. The low oil prices pushed the country's
economy. Exports, dominated by oil and minerals, had fallen
more than 40% in one year and the currency tenge had lost
close to half its value against the dollar in six months.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev's authoritarian rule met
growing protests. Nazarbayev decided to make progress and
announced new elections to Parliament.
Ahead of the March elections, the president pledged $ 1
billion to build affordable housing. He also promised
increased investment in infrastructure, agriculture and
schools. The regime sought the support of the people for a
society without democratic freedoms and rights in exchange
for relative economic prosperity.
countryaah, the weak opposition in the form of the National Social
Democratic Party (NSDP) was allowed to take part in the
elections. But before the election, the Anti-Corruption
Bureau launched an investigation into the journalist
association's chairman Sejtkazy Matayev, who was accused of
theft and tax evasion. Matayev saw the allegations as
political and as an attack on freedom of the press. The
campaign followed a strike against regime-critical media and
According to the official results, Nazarbayev's power
party, the Fatherland, won a landslide victory in the
election with 82% of the vote. Two support parties, the
Communist Party and the bright road, also came in with just
over 7%, the threshold to Parliament. The Social Democrats
ended up with just over 1% of the vote.
Nazarbayev described the election as a great success for
democracy, but according to OSCE observers it was
During the year, it was revealed that the bank Nordea
lent the equivalent of SEK 3 billion through a tax haven to
a building in Moscow run by an oligarch with ties to the
Kazakh dictator Nazarbayev.
In April, Nazarbayev's regime was challenged by protests
that spread to several cities. The protesters turned to a
planned reform, where agricultural land could be auctioned
off. Locals feared that Chinese would take over the land,
and it was suspected that the sale would be plagued by
corruption. The protests against land reform also seemed to
be a way of expressing general dissatisfaction with the
regime. Nazarbayev warned the people of a development like
in Ukraine with battles and deaths.
In an unusual remission against his critics, Nazarbayev
decided in May to postpone land reform. He criticized his
own government for failing to explain the reform and three
Nazarbayev gave orders for monitoring social media used
by activists in the wave of protests. The president warned
his opponents and threatened with harsh responses to
attempts to destabilize the country.
However, new protests broke out in Alma-Ata, the
country's largest city. When further protests were planned,
the police arrested a large number of activists and blocked
off the squares in larger cities. In Alma-Ata, the riot
police chased away the protesters and seized many of them.
In June, armed men attacked the city of Aktobe in the
northwest, near the border with the Russian Federation. Six
people were killed in three attacks, including against the
National Guard's location. According to authorities, 18
suspected assailants were killed, who were said to be
supporters of radical Islamists driven from abroad. The
security service identified the Islamic State (IS) as
responsible for the attacks. Later, another armed group was
arrested, who were reportedly planning new terrorist acts.
After the unrest, Nazarbayev appointed political veteran
Adilbek Zhaksybekov to the powerful position of his chief of
staff. A number of other changes were made among senior
In July, four people were killed in a new armed act, now
in Alma-Ata. Three of the victims were police.
In August, Nazarbayev declared that the disputed land
reform would be postponed for five years and that foreign
experience should be studied. Later, two civil rights
activists were sentenced to five years in prison accused of
stirring up social unrest.
A court in August ordered conditional release of regime
critic Vladimir Kozlov, who has been imprisoned for nearly
five years, accused of participating in a coup attempt
against the government. Kozlov denied the charges.
In September, Prime Minister Karim Masimov was allowed to
leave his post and was replaced by Deputy Prime Minister
Baqytzjan Saghyntajev. Furthermore, Nazarbayev's daughter
Dariga Nazarbayeva was appointed chairman of the Senate's
important committee on foreign, defense and security policy.
It was speculated that she was appointed to succeed her
In October, journalist chair Matayev was sentenced to six
years in prison for embezzlement and tax crimes along with
his son, who was sentenced to five years. The trial was
described internationally as political and as an attack on
freedom of the press. Both convicted denied the charges.