Kazakhstan. In January, part of the country’s parliament was elected, and officially President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s ruling party received four-fifths of the vote. But the election was judged undemocratic by the European Security and Cooperation Organization OSCE.
In 2013, Kazakhstan ranked 160th (out of 179) on Reporters Without Borders list of press freedom in the world, and the country was said to have had the worst trend in Central Asia. According to the Freedom House organization, the regime in 2012 banned some 40 opposition media, and that policy continued throughout the year. A number of magazines were banned, confiscated or sentenced to fines.
According to Countryaah, regime opponents were imprisoned and prosecuted in large numbers. Notable was the power struggle between the regime and the oligarch Muchtar Abljazov, who was in exile. He was accused of cheating his former bank BTA on large sums but claimed himself innocent and politically persecuted. Abljazov was arrested in France.
Islamic groups were banned, and long prison sentences were condemned for plans or calls for terrorist acts and for the dissemination of forbidden teachings. In western Kazakhstan, the military rebelled against what was described as Islamic extremists and terrorists. A Christian preacher was arrested and charged with malicious influence, and an atheist blogger was placed in a psychiatric clinic and then in prison.
The chairman of the Opposition Party of Freedom, Bulat Abilov, announced that he would cease his political activities. He had been arrested earlier this year by police, and one of his closest associates had been murdered in 2006.
A lawyer who was forcibly placed at a psychiatric clinic the year before was released in November. She herself claimed that she was locked in for political reasons after complaining to a regional governor. Human Rights Watch had demanded her release.
Vadim Kuramshin, who fought for the rights of prisoners in Kazakhstan, was awarded the Ludovic-Trarieux Human Rights Prize, which is awarded in Paris. Kuramshin was sentenced in 2012 to twelve years in prison accused of extortion. The award is awarded each year to a lawyer who defended human rights, and the first prize winner was Nelson Mandela. The regime decided during the year to increase the share of renewable energy, especially wind and solar energy, and construction of Central Asia’s largest solar power plant was underway. At the same time, it was said that building nuclear power plants is also necessary to meet the rapidly growing energy demand. Although Kazakhstan does not yet have nuclear power, the country is the world’s leading uranium producer with over a third of world production.
Kazakhstan signed an agreement with China during the year on its involvement in the large Kazakh oil field of Kashagan. President Nazarbayev also met with the President of the Russian Federation and signed agreements on bilateral relations in the 21st century.
TeliaSonera’s business in Kazakhstan was submitted at the end of the year for the investigation of Swedish corruption prosecutors. It involved the purchase of networks and frequencies in 2012 for billions, where the Kazakh company owner had ties to the country’s power elite.