HASAN – The future of Kazakhstan being re-designed

The future of Kazakhstan being re-designedIand#39m hanging out with some journalists in Almaty. The capital of Kazakhstan may be Astana, but the intellectual and trade center of this country is Almaty.

Aside from the daily paper Aikyn, all other Kazakh papers come out once a week. As for Aikyn, it is actually only published five days a week.

Kazakhstan is large and the winter is long and tough. Distribution of publications is difficult, which is why most of the papers only come out once a week here.

The Egemen Kazakhstan newspaper is published in the Kazakh language, and generally goes to government clerks and workers. Around 150,000 copies are distributed each week.

The most important newspapers in Kazakhstan are considered to be Turkistan, which was first published in 1994 and is in Kazakh, Aikyn, which is also publishes in Kazakh and lies under the control of the ruling Nur Otan party, Lider, which is the Russian-language version of Aikyn, and Jasqazaq, which targets the youth audience.As a rule, Russia lends financial support to media organizations publishing and broadcasting in the Russian language via the Ruski Mir (Russian World) Foundation founded by President Vladimir Putin.

This foundation does not have links to the newspapers in Kazakhstan. But the rest of the Kazakh media is considered an extension of the state, as in other former Soviet republics.

For this reason, newspapers are not really power centers at all in Kazakhstan, and they have a difficult time finding aertising. Nor do they really involve regular columnists — just news stories, and some analytic research pieces and interviews.

So newspapers donand#39t really hold influence, but there are some intellectual journalists, some of whom are thinking about the countryand#39s future in a way never done before.The Eurasian Customs Union and the annexation of Crimea have wound up increasing Russiaand#39s influence inside Kazakhstan.

Prior to the inception of the Eurasian Customs Union, Central Asian countries had generally obtained their international brands (Nestle, Unilever, etc.) via Istanbul.

Now, after the customs union, the center for these sorts of goods has become Moscow. In the meantime, there is only one Western bank left in Kazakhstan: City Bank.

And Kazakhstan, with its small population (17 million), its wide-flung geography and its long winter, has become more of a market for goods produced in Russia than a center for production itself.But the Eurasian Customs Union has truly begun working against the fortune of Kazakhstan.

In the face of a cheapening Russian ruble and Russian goods, the Kazakh tenge and Kazakh goods donand#39t stand a chance. And while the Kazakh state may make claims about supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, the fact is that the Kazakh bureaucracy makes this support evaporate before it can actually reach Kazakh industries.

With one dollar currently at 185t tenge, there is great concern that continuous devaluation will disrupt the countryand#39s political stability. In the meantime, Salafist winds blowing in from Syria are having a decided effect on the hopeless youth of Kazakhstan.

While the political and economic strength of Russia to its north is on the rise, Kazakhstan also sees increased economic pressure from China to its south. The Xinjiang autonomous Uyghur region in China is actually the southern neighbor to all of Central Asia And with the rapid strengthening of that regionand#39s industrial power, the dependency of the Central Asian economy on China is increasing.

In the meantime, more and more contraband Chinese goods enter Central Asia The Russian population along the Chinese border is around 3 million (5 million if you count Central Asian lands), while the Chinese population that lives near the border with Russia is around 300 million. This huge imbalance in populations, combined with Chinaand#39s economic power, means that neither Central Asia nor Siberia stand a chance against ChinaRecent events in Ukraine and Syria have had a deep effect on Kazakhstan.

The future of Kazakhstan is being re-designed even now. The year 2015 is set to be the year that the countryand#39s state structure and historical roots are strengthened.

It is also going to be the 20th anniversary of the Kazakhstan Peopleand#39s Assembly, and the 550th year of the great Kazakh dynasty.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman