Weekly News Review

February 11, 2017

Embassy of Kazakhstan to Canada Weekly News Review

February 6-11, 2017

Issue No. 207



  • Kazakh President Sets Goals Toward Third-Stage Modernisation
  • EU welcomes Nazarbayev’s initiatives – Peter Burian
  • 3rd modernization focuses on people - German experts


  • Kazakhstan welcomes first Syrian meeting, says another planned for mid-February
  • The importance of dialogue on Syria, however difficult
  • OSCE to Help Train Kazakh Law Enforcement Staff Fight Crime


  • 2017 Economic Growth in Kazakhstan Forecast at 2.5%
  • Kazakhstan to increase agro food export by 40% by 2021
  • Kazakhstan, UN sign agreement on UN's participation in EXPO 2017
  • 407 state-owned objects privatized in Kazakhstan


  • Kazakhstan Ranks Second in Team Standings at Almaty Universiade
  • Canadians thank Almaty for hosting Universiade
  • French photographer builds supernatural Astana, calls it “Utopia of the 21st Century”
  • Officials Discuss Developing Nomadic Tourism, Other Challenges at Tourism Conference





Kazakh President Sets Goals Toward Third-Stage Modernisation

Astana Times, 6 February 2017


President Nursultan Nazarbayev led a Feb. 3 expanded government meeting discussing the key objectives of the third stage of Kazakhstan’s modernisation, which were laid out n his Jan. 31 annual address to the nation.

Nazarbayev instructed the government to take into account the target indicators of the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy while developing a Strategic Development Plan until 2025.

He stressed the need for sustainable GDP growth at 5 percent pointing to the existing potential for further development of the national economy.

Nazarbayev instructed the regional akims (governors and mayors) and development institutions to reinforce projects in the framework of the state programme of industrial-innovative development that are now idling.

Nazarbayev drew attention to the decline of goods and services produced by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the involvement of citizens.

“According to government reports, the scheduled inspections were cancelled, the new risk management systems were implemented, whereas the state services were converted into electronic format. However, the number of employees in the inspection bodies was not reduced. For this reason, I instruct the government, the General Prosecutor’s Office and the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan Atameken to conduct a large-scale audit of the control and supervisory functions until the end of March,” Nazarbayev said.

“It is necessary to revise and cancel all inefficient tax breaks and preferences. Tax legislation should stimulate business activity, investments and reduce the share of the shadow economy,” he added.

Thereafter, Nazarbayev touched the topic of expanding the boundaries for business. He noted the need to reduce the proportion of the state-owned enterprises, as well as establish a list of organisations in accordance with the principles of Yellow Pages that will reasonably remain in state ownership on the results of privatisation.

The President also pointed out the lack of work on the development of public-private partnerships emphasising that akims should be more responsible in this area.

Nazarbayev noted the importance of measures of state support for domestic producers. It is necessary to ensure long-term contracts and introduce modern technologies and innovations. There should be created a unified IT-platform for purchases and producers, he said. According to him, it will provide import substitution and development of domestic production.

Nazarbayev underlined poor conditions of agricultural holdings and instructed the General Prosecutor’s Office in cooperation with the Audit Committee to carry out the relevant checks.

Nazarbayev stressed the importance of ongoing healthcare reforms noting that its results must improve the quality of services.

In addition, Nazarbayev stressed the importance of the transition to a 12-year education system, a new trilingual system and the updating of the rules of the United National Testing (UNT). He instructed the responsible state body to inform the country’s population about the positive effects of these changes.

All reforms are provided with the necessary funding sources, informed Nazarbayev. At the same time, he noted the responsibility of the state bodies for effective allocation of the state budget.


EU welcomes Nazarbayev’s initiatives – Peter Burian

Kazinform, 10 February 2017


The European Union welcomes the Kazakh President's initiatives on constitutional reform and Address to the Nation "The Third Modernization of Kazakhstan: Global Competitiveness". EU Special Representative for Central Asia Peter Burian said it in an interview with Kazinform correspondent.    

“We welcome the initiative on redistribution of power,” said Peter Burian.

“It is important both for Kazakhstan and the European Union to have a balance of powers between the government institutions. It is one of elements of stability and development of the state. Our Extended Partnership Agreement will also be used for the support of reformist steps. In this regard, we are ready to share our experience,” Peter Burian said.

Nevertheless, the Diplomat warned Kazakhstan of blind copying the experience of the EU countries.

“Our countries have passed various transformation processes and Kazakhstan would be interested in studying these models. We should consider also some errors which your countries made in this process of transformation,” he said.

“The democratic institutions, the rule of law and human rights are the important elements of the country’s stability. We will welcome if the constitutional reforms focus on these issues,” Perer Burian added.

In his opinion, ‘these values can be a prerequisite for soonest integration of Kazakhstan into the global economic trade system.’

Commenting on the President’s Address, the expert said that Kazakhstan ‘has all opportunities for choosing the best development directions.

“Of course, it is impossible to build economy based upon energy only. You need diversification and modernization. In this regard, N.Nazarbayev’s decision seems to be right. You need new sources of economic rise and new drivers of economic development,” Peter Burian stressed.

He is confident that the upcoming EXPO 2017 international specialized exhibition will contribute to the implementation of the Third Modernization of Kazakhstan.

“EXPO 2017 will demonstrate the trends of innovative development and will help define the areas for development. The advantages and opportunities will be used fully,” he noted.

According to him, the European Union backs Kazakhstan’s efforts on accession to the club of 30 most developed countries of the world.

“Almost all countries of the EU are the members of the OECD and we support Kazakhstan’s objective to integrate into this organization. We are waiting for you in this club,” Peter Burian concluded. 



3rd modernization focuses on people - German experts

Kazinform, 9 February 2017

Representatives of German social, political and economic circles commented on the recent President's Address.

"The goals of this Address are ambitious and realizable. Implementation of its provisions, will undoubtedly contribute to the growth of foreign investments into Kazakh economy. I especially liked the special measures to support small and medium-sized businesses. As we can see on the German example, the more SMEs in the economy, the more stable political, economic and social situation in the country is", said the former vice-president of the EEC and European Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, Günter Verheugen.

In turn, CEO of METRO Cash & Carry Anton Van Gorp noted that "with the launch of the third modernization Kazakhstan in the context of global competitiveness is looking for responses to the future challenges of the global economy".

"We, as an international investor in Kazakhstan, appreciate the aim to accelerate the development of non-extractive sectors of the economy and invest in technological modernization and infrastructure as it will lead to long-term stabilization. Moreover, as a company that sells mainly food stuffs, we highly support the idea of making the agricultural sector a new driver of the economy. Indeed, potential of the agricultural sector in Kazakhstan is far from being covered. The essence of the third economic modernization of Kazakhstan is to focus on people, their potential, their contribution and how to enable them to jointly participate in the economic development of Kazakhstan. Therefore, it is absolutely right to push it forward, together with the decision on the people's participation in the improvement of the political system of the country", said Anton Van Gorp.





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

Astana Times, 9 February 2017


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.

“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, rganized 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.


The importance of dialogue on Syria, however difficult

Astana Times, 11 February 2017


Ending conflicts is always difficult, pain-staking work. Shattered trust has to be slowly restored before any progress can be made. Space must be allowed for grievances to be aired and overcome. Small building blocks have to be put in place on which the larger platform for peace can be securely laid. Guarantors to ensure the agreement reached will not be breached are often required.

The more savage the conflict and the more parties involved, of course, the greater the challenge. So there should be no surprise that progress towards a deal to end the fighting in Syria has been so hard. It is not just the ferocity of the civil war and its impact on millions of people which make any resolution so difficult. There are also many different groups with different objectives involved in the fighting – who, in turn, are receiving moral and physical support from outside the country’s borders.

Syria’s nightmare is made much worse because of the involvement in the civil war of extreme terrorist groups. The danger their ambitions cause regionally and globally have added to the urgency to finding a new future for Syria that will allow everyone to work together to counter this threat.

Finding a lasting solution to such a devastating, long-running and complex conflict is going to take time, patience and a huge amount of effort. It will need negotiations to take place at different levels to help overcome both practical difficulties as well as to shape a wider framework for the country’s future.

It is against this difficult background that the progress being made in continuing talks in Astana on Syria should be judged. Just the fact that the initial talks last month were the first involving the Syrian Government and armed opposition was an encouraging sign. We saw, too, tangible results with Russia, Iran and Turkey – with the support of the United Nations – agreeing mechanisms to monitor, maintain and strengthen the desperately-needed ceasefire.

Over the last few days, we have seen high-level teams from the three guarantor countries meet in Astana to try to find solutions to the inevitable flash-points and problems that have emerged. They have also worked to find how humanitarian relief can more quickly and securely reach the millions who need it. The involvement of Jordan, which has provided a safe haven for hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and is a major voice for moderation and peace in the region, is another important move in the right direction.

The hope is that this progress and the follow-up meeting in Astana of the so called joint operational group scheduled for Feb. 15-16 will create the conditions for the launch of the next round of the full Geneva peace talks. These must be held under the auspices of the UN and must involve a wider range of countries.

There is, of course, a long way to go. No one should be under any illusions of just how difficult it will be to reach a lasting, comprehensive agreement. There are many, many obstacles to be overcome before we see a stable and peaceful future for Syria in which all its people can share – a future which requires the threat from violent extremism to be extinguished. But thanks to what has come to be termed as the Astana process, hope is increasing that this might be possible.

This progress has earned praise for Kazakhstan from commentators. The Times of London went so far as to say that Astana has now “taken an unlikely new role at the centre of a new world order.”  But this role is not a surprise to Kazakhstan’s international partners. It is the product of our country’s long-standing commitment to dialogue and peace and the good relations we have forged across the international community.

This has already seen Kazakhstan’s mediation help reduce the intensity of the conflict in Ukraine as well as defuse tensions between Russia and Turkey – an essential precondition for finding a peaceful future for Syria. It was a powerful reason, too, for the country’s historic election to the UN Security Council. It is why, despite the challenges ahead and the inevitable setbacks, Kazakhstan will need to continue striving for peace and working to heal divisions in Syria and throughout the world. It is a role that has never been more valuable.


OSCE to Help Train Kazakh Law Enforcement Staff Fight Crime

Astana Times, 6 February 2017

Head of the Department of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Economic and Environmental Activities Andrei Muntean recently pledged during his meeting with Rector of the Academy of Law Enforcement under the General Prosecutor’s Office Ulan Baizhanov to help the academy create a regional law enforcement hub.

The Kazakh head of state set the task to create a law enforcement hub that would meet society’s expectations and would have personnel trained according to the highest international standards, Baizhanov said. To do this, the country needs leaders of the new formation: educated, trustworthy and with high morals.

The academy is implementing a system of special trainings. Last year, it trained 45 people for the prosecutor’s office, internal affairs, economic and anti-corruption investigation services, while nine of the graduates have been appointed to senior positions.

Baizhanov briefed Muntean about the completion of several intermediate stages of work on the creation of the hub and next steps towards its completion, suggesting qualitatively new approaches to strengthening the ties between the hub and the academy.

“In the near future, the academy plans to sign a memorandum with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to establish a hub and proceed directly to the training of specialists for the Central Asian states in the region,” said the rector of the academy.

The OSCE’s support for the academy is affirmation of the academy’s commitment to fundamental OSCE security principles. Baizhanov thanked Muntean for supporting academy, General Prosecutor’s press service reported in a press release.

Muntean praised the level of cooperation received from Kazakhstan and highlighted the academy’s contribution to the effective use of scientific and educational spheres as a tool to solve national and regional issues.

The parties also discussed implementing existing agreements, priorities for bilateral cooperation and future projects.

Baizhanov noted the OSCE has helped strengthen international security over the last four decades and contributed to Kazakhstan’s development by helping the country respond to modern challenges.




2017 Economic Growth in Kazakhstan Forecast at 2.5%

Sputniknews.com, 09.02.2017

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has increased its forecast of economic growth in Kazakhstan for the current year, up to 2.5 percent from the October figure of 0.6 percent.

"While growth slowed in 2016, a pickup is expected in 2017," the IMF said in a Wednesday statement, adding that economic growth in Kazakhstan "is projected to reach 2.5 percent in 2017 and non-oil growth should reach 4 percent by 2021."

According to the IMF, inflation in Kazakhstan is expected to fall within the National Bank (NBK) target of 6-8 percent in 2017.

NBK reserves increased by $2 billion in 2016, the IMF said. Economic growth in Kazakhstan amounted to 1 percent last year, amid increased oil production.




Kazakhstan to increase agro food export by 40% by 2021

Timesca.com, 10.02.2017

Kazakhstan plans to increase the export of food products by 40 percent by 2021 through diversification of agricultural production. In 2017, the agro food export is expected to grow 10 percent, the official website of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan reported.

Six tasks have been set before the Ministry of Agriculture to turn the agro-industrial sector into a new driver of Kazakhstan’s economy, First Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Kazakhstan Kairat Aituganov told a press conference on February 9.

Firstly, it is necessary to reconsider the principles of allocation of subsidies. Currently, new rules are under development and will soon be adopted; as a result 11 possible types of inefficient subsidies will be abolished and the coverage of state support measures for agricultural producers will increase 7.5-fold with the same amount of funds.

Secondly, the government will create conditions to help 500 thousand private farms and small farms join into cooperatives within five years. At the moment, 154 cooperatives have already been created; more than 100 milk collection centers and 7,000 family feedlots were organized on their basis. The number of new cooperatives will be doubled in the current year.

Thirdly, the sector should increase the level of processing of agricultural products, to create an effective storage, transportation and marketing system.

Fourthly, it is necessary to increase productivity and reduce production costs through modernization and introduction of the latest agricultural technologies.

The fifth task is to improve the efficiency of land use and increase the area of irrigated land by 40% within five years.

And the sixth task is to increase investment in the agro-scientific research. Work on the creation of two agricultural centers on the basis of the National Agricultural University in Almaty and the Kazakh Agro Technical University in Astana has already begun.



Kazakhstan, UN sign agreement on UN's participation in EXPO 2017

Akipress.com, 10.02.2017

Chairman of Astana EXPO-2017 Akhmetzhan Yessimov met with Cihan Sultanoglu, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS (RBEC) at UNDP,  on February 9.

The two signed an agreement on UN participation in the EXPO 2017.

The sides discussed issues of preparation for the EXPO-2017 during the meeting. Akhmetzhan Yessimov informed that currently 115 countries and 18 international organizations have confirmed their participation in the exhibition. 18 countries have already received pavilions and began themed exposition. He expressed confidence that the UN exhibition will demonstrate the best projects and the achievement of the organization in the field of renewable energy.

For its part, Ms. Sultanoglu praised Kazakhstan's leadership in promoting sustainable development goals (SDGs) as well as the country's ability to engage in dialogue and promote the adoption of reform measures in sustainable and rational use of energy.

"We support the President Nazarbayev's initiative to establish a center of green technology and are ready to support this project. I am confident that the exhibition will be an excellent opportunity for Kazakhstan to give impetus to the theme of sustainable energy. UN ready to contribute," Cihan Sultanoglu said.

In the role of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations in the EXPO-2017, Ch. Sultanoglu coordinates the participation of the entire United Nations system in the exhibition.



407 state-owned objects privatized in Kazakhstan

Azernews.az, 10.02.2017

As much as 407 state-owned objects have been sold in Kazakhstan within the privatization program which started in June 2014, Kazakh finance minister said in message.

Earlier it was planned to sell 603 state objects in this period.

As much as 26 of the sold objects were owned directly by the state, 73 objects – by the state companies and holdings, 101 – by socio-entrepreneurial corporations and 207 by municipal administrations.

Kazakh state budget received about 8.57 billion tenges (324 tenges = $1) from privatization deals reached in this period, the regional budgets – 17.65 billion tenges, national holdings – 73.69 billion tenges, and the socio-entrepreneurial corporations – 6.77 billion tenges.

The privatization program was initiated by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Within the privatization plan, Kazakhstan will transfer such large state-owned companies as Kazakhstan Railways, KazMunaiGas, Kazatomprom, Samruk-Energy, Tau-Ken Samruk, Kazpost, Air Astana, Kazgeology, Kazmortransflot National Maritime Shipping Company, Atyrau Refinery, Pavlodar Petrochemical Plant, and PetroKazakhstan Oil Products to a competitive environment.

The program will reduce the state’s participation in the economy to 15 percent, which is the level set for countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Kazakhstan plans to sell 1,008 state-owned objects and facilities to private owners within the privatization program in 2014-2020.






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

Astana Times, 8 February 2017

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.


Canadians thank Almaty for hosting Universiade

Kazinform, 8 February 2017

The national team of Canada chose a great way to thank Almaty for hosting the 28th World Winter Universiade at its closing ceremony, Kazinform correspondent reports. 

The Canadian team carried a banner saying Almatyga rakhmet! (Thank you, Almaty!) during the Parade of the Athletes. Medalists and participants of the Universiade will be honored at the closing ceremony in Almaty. 

Over 2,000 athletes from 57 countries are participating in the parade. Canada was ranked 13th in the overall medal tally with one gold, one silver and one bronze medal.



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

Astana Times, 9 February 2017

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 sputnik.kz.

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.


Officials Discuss Developing Nomadic Tourism, Other Challenges at Tourism Conference

Astana Times, 9 February 2017


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.

“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, inform.kz 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