Weekly News Review

March 13, 2017

Embassy of Kazakhstan to Canada Weekly News Review

March 7-13, 2017

Issue No. 211


  • Kazakh President congratulates women on International Women’s Day
  • Women’s contributions give Kazakhstan reason to celebrate


  • Kazakh President signs amendments to Constitution into law
  • Kazakhstan Set to Deepen Partnership with Caribbean Partners
  • Central Asian countries need to strengthen cooperation within region and beyond, scholar says


  • Delegation from Kazakhstan participated in PDAC-2017
  • Government to launch additional 410 agricultural cooperatives to assist small farms
  • Industry experts optimistic about introduction of autonomous vehicles in Kazakhstan


  • WBC add Kazakh flag to belt in honor of Gennady Golovkin
  • Canadian Producer to Make Film about Kazakh Domestication of Wild Horses
  • British leather goods with Kazakh soul



Kazakh President congratulates women on International Women’s Day

Astana Times, 9 March 2017

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev congratulated March 7 the women of Kazakhstan on the upcoming International Women’s Day, noting the invaluable role of women in the development of Kazakhstan society.

“Today, women of Kazakhstan make a special contribution to the formation of our state. The representatives of the beautiful half of humanity are working tirelessly in various spheres of our economy, including public service, science, private sector, education and health. Fifty-five percent of civil servants in the country are women,” Nazarbayev said at a large meeting held in Akorda with women coming from different walks of life.

He also touched upon the state’s demographic policy, focusing on the issues of support and protection of motherhood and childhood.

“Upon my instructions, the implementation of the Family and Gender Policy Concept until 2030 begins this year. In July, the amount of childbirth allowances will be increased by 20 percent. The annual cost of financial support for maternity and childhood constitutes 160 billion tenge (US$506 million). Another 120 billion tenge (US$380 million) is paid to parents from the State Social Insurance Fund. In 10 years, we have achieved a reduction in maternal mortality by 3.7 times, children’s deaths decreased by 1.5 times,” the head of state said.

In addition, the Kazakh President singled outtasks to strengthen the country’s gender policy, notingthe first task is to strengthen the institution of a family. In this regard, Nazarbayev noted that every third marriage breaks up in Kazakhstan, in particular, due to the unpreparedness of the spouses for responsibility.

“There are half a million single-parent families in our country. It is necessary to take measures to address this problem,” Nazarbayev stressed.

At the same time, the President drew attention to the need to eradicate any manifestations of aggression against children and to provide employment for the younger generation by strengthening patriotic education in special circles and institutions.

“In addition, we can consider the possibility of holding an all-Kazakhstan Children’s Olympiad every four years under the supervision of Olympic champions. The next issue is that the average women’s income is still one-third lower than that of men. One of the reasons for this is the list of jobs approved by the government, on which the use of women’s labour is prohibited,” said Nazarbayev.

The head of state pointed out as next priorities of gender policy the need to create a comfortable environment for a mother and a child, as well as promote a culture of respect for motherhood.

“Perhaps, it is worth holding a nationwide open day for children. I hope that with your help, dear women, we will be able to implement all our plans,” the President noted.

Nazarbayev expressed confidence that it is women who will play a big role in the current political modernisation.

Participants of the meeting shared their achievements both in professional and daily activities.

At the end of the event, the head of state awarded the mother of many children Oksana Mukasheva with the “Altyn alka” (Golden Pendant) award and conducted a tour around the Akorda residence for the meeting participants.


Women’s contributions give Kazakhstan reason to celebrate

Astana Times, 7 March 2017

Foreign visitors, particularly from Europe and North America, are often surprised to find that Women’s Day is both a public holiday and national celebration in Kazakhstan. While they may be accustomed in their home country to March 8 being a day to highlight the long battle for women’s equality, here it is more like a cross between Valentine’s and Mothers’ Day – the chance to show appreciation to mothers, wives and girlfriends.

It is a tradition, now decades-old, shared by many other countries in our region. Families are brought together on what is a joyous occasion in the national calendar. Flower-sellers enjoy one of their busiest days of the year.

But while the focus over the next few days will be on family celebrations, this does not mean the roots of the day in the struggle for women’s rights, or why it is so important, is forgotten in Kazakhstan. In fact, the government has made dismantling the barriers which prevent women playing their full role in our economy and society a major priority.

There is, of course, good reason for this emphasis. In the knowledge-based economy, the countries that succeed will be those who harness the full potential of all their citizens. And failing to make the most of the talents and energy of an entire gender will make it very difficult for any nation to achieve its economic and social goals.

It is an area where our country can point to solid progress. It is not often, that Kazakhstan, despite all the achievements of the last 25 years, finds itself ahead of both the United States and Japan in a global index measuring social progress. They are, after all, two of the world’s most successful and prosperous nations. So, the report last year putting our country above these international leaders on gender equality received global coverage.

The Girls’ Opportunity Index from Save the Children, the international charity, put Kazakhstan in 30th place – two above the United States and five ahead of Japan. Kazakhstan scored particularly well because of the higher proportion of women in Parliament. Women now make up 27 percent of those in the lower house – a major improvement on the 10 percent only 10 years ago.

Progress in the economy has been even more impressive. A conference in Astana last month heard that 44 percent of the country’s small and medium sized businesses – the engines of growth – are now run by women. With targeted support from the government, which has made supporting and expanding the SME sector a national priority, and international organisations such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, we can expect this number and the jobs they support to increase.

Women are also moving into sectors, such as the energy industry, which have been the traditional preserve of men right across the world. With a big increase in recent years in female students taking degrees in engineering and other technical subjects – having long out-numbered men at the country’s universities – there will be many newly trained recruits in the years ahead.

But there is no room for complacency. There is plenty of scope for further improvements. For example, we also reported last month that there are still more than 200 occupations from which women are barred, largely because of out-dated regulations.

Ending such restrictions – while necessary – is not, however, the whole answer. It is also important to change the culture that puts in place informal barriers or fosters the belief that women should not be recruited or promoted. It may be done from the point of view that women are to be protected but the end result remains a damaging reduction in the pool of talent available.

This is not, of course, just a challenge for Kazakhstan but for all countries across the world. No nation has yet managed to produce a true level playing field which enables everyone, whatever their background or gender, to contribute fully to the success of their national economy and society.

The faster Kazakhstan can achieve this goal and provide genuine opportunity for all, the better for everyone, men as well as women. And that will be another reason for national celebrations.



Kazakh President signs amendments to Constitution into law

Astana Times, 13 March 2017

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed amendments and additions to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan March 10.

The law “On introducing amendments and additions to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan,” which was approved by the Parliament and presented to the President was sent to the Constitutional Council on March 6. The Constitutional Council of Kazakhstan approved March 9 the amendments to the country’s major document after determining it complies with the Constitution, including its values, fundamental principles of work and the country’s form of governing.

The bill had been passed in its first reading on March 3. The nationwide discussion of the amendments to the Constitution took place Jan.26 to Feb. 24.

The new law introduced 26 amendments to 19 articles of the Constitution.  A considerable part of amendments concern redistributing the powers of the President, the Parliament and the government. These amendments are aimed at implementing the 100 Concrete Steps Plan of the Nation.

“First, the new law significantly strengthens the Parliament’s role in state affairs, including in the formation of the government. Second, the government becomes more independent, receiving the powers to directly manage the economy. Third, the constitutional basis of law enforcement and judicial systems will be modernised. The law lays the foundations for the activities of the Prosecutor General’s Office, providing the highest supervision over the observance of the rule of law and representation of state interests in court. Fourth, constitutional control will be strengthened. Fifth, guarantees of immutability of our independence, unitary status, territorial integrity and form of government are to be fixed at the constitutional level,” Nazarbayev explained, during a joint meeting of the chambers of the Parliament March 3.

The head of state noted the high professionalism of all branches of government, emphasising their ability to take responsibility and make decisions independently. “The new challenges mentioned in my state-of-the-nation address lay particular responsibility on the legislative and executive bodies. I am sure the expansion of powers of the Parliament and the government will contribute to a more effective achievement of the objectives of the third modernisation of the economy,” the President said.

During the official signing ceremony at the Akorda residence, the President underlined vital importance of the document for the country. “The current reform is a natural result of the state development. We are a young country building its statehood. We need to meet the requirements of a changing world, both in the economy and in politics,” Nazarbayev said being flanked by the country’s top officials.

“The political system will acquire a greater degree of democracy and stability. At the same time, the presidential form of government will remain in Kazakhstan,” he noted.

“I express my sincere gratitude to the members of the Working Group, the deputies of the Parliament and all the people in Kazakhstan for their support and invaluable contribution to the implementation of the constitutional reform,” Nazarbayev highlighted.

According to the President, the rapid technological revolution in the modern world shapes a new reality of the global economy. He said the updated Constitution is an answer to the current challenges and called on all the citizens to unite their efforts in order to achieve the strategic goal for Kazakhstan to enter the list of 30 developed countries of the world.

“I am confident that together we will be able to ensure the successful development of the state and prosperity of our people in the 21st century. The main goal of the reforms is to preserve our unity, friendship, mutual understanding, as well as equality in terms of ethnic, linguistic and confessional principles. Thanks to our cohesion, we achieved many victories. Following these postulates, we will achieve new ones,” he said.

Kazakhstan Set to Deepen Partnership with Caribbean Partners

On March 10, 2017 in Havana, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Canada and Plenipotentiary Representative of Kazakhstan to the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) Konstantin Zhigalov participated in the 22nd Ordinary Meeting of the ACS Ministerial Council, hosted by the President of the Republic of Cuba Mr. Raul Castro and Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla. Kazakhstan was granted the observer status to the ACS during the 7th Summit of the ACS Heads of States and Governments in June 2016.

While in Havana, Ambassador Zhigalov held bilateral meetings with the ACS Secretary General Ambassador June Soomer and Assistant Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ambassador Colin Granderson. At the meetings, Ambassador Zhigalov reaffirmed Kazakhstan’s commitment to strengthening partnership with the ACS and CARICOM and to promoting common goals and interests within the United Nations as a non-permanent member of UN Security Council in 2017-2018.

On the margins of the ACS Ministerial Meeting, Ambassador Zhigalov also met with a number of heads of delegations from the 25 members states, 9 associated members, and 24 observers of the ACS, including The Honourable Maxine Mcclean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, The Honourable Elvin Nimrod, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Grenada, The Honourable Marlene Malahoo-Forte, Attorney General of Jamaica, Ms. Yldiz Pollack-Beighle Minister of Foreign Affairs of Suriname, Mr. Manuel Gonzalez Sanz, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cult of Costa Rica, and Mr. Hugo Rivera Fernandez, Vice-minister of Foreign Affairs of Dominican Republic.

During the meetings, the parties discussed important topics of international agenda and reviewed the recent progress in bilateral cooperation, including Caribbean countries’ participation in the EXPO-2017 “Future Energy” in Astana. Ambassador Zhigalov took this opportunity to present to the heads of delegations of Guyana and Suriname invitation letters from President Nursultan Nazarbayev to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Summit on Science and Technology, scheduled for September 2017 in Astana. 

On March 8, Kazakhstan delegation led by Ambassador Zhigalov attended the inaugural Cooperation Conference of the ACS, where regional projects on climate change, environment protection, and infrastructure development were presented to the regional and international partners of the ACS.


Central Asian countries need to strengthen cooperation within region and beyond, scholar says

Astana Times, 12 March 2017

Central Asia is a historically important region comprised of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Mongolia, the north-western part of China and some regions of the Russian Federation are also designated as part of the Central Asian region. Geographically it is located between Europe and Asia, rapidly-developing China with a population of almost 1.5 billion, Middle Eastern countries and Russia. Therefore, stable development of the region is important not only for the Central Asian states, but for all Eurasian countries, said Ph.D. political science candidate Muratbek Uspanov in a March 6 interview with The Astana Times.

“It is important to be aware of challenges that the Central Asian countries face. Thus, we can identify internal and external ones. Speaking about internal ones, we should note that the core of the region consists mainly of young independent countries formed after the collapse of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). They differ in social, economic and political development and have the following main features: insufficient social and economic level of development of states, lack of water resources, lack of access to the world’s oceans, immaturity of state institutions, and, as a consequence, some political instability,” he said.

Indicators of gross domestic product per capita in the Central Asian countries are low, he noted. While Kazakhstan has managed to achieve worldwide average figures, the situation is quite challenging in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

“These countries have developed weak economies. There are such problems as poor quality of healthcare, education, public services, high unemployment rate and low wages; the population has to migrate massively to more prosperous states in search of work. The economies of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are heavily dependent on external earnings from labour migrants,” he noted.

“The situation is somewhat better in Uzbekistan. The country in many respects has the same problems as its neighbours while additional pressure is exerted by the population statistics – there are more than 30 million people living there. Turkmenistan is significantly better off than these countries, but there is a strong dependence on the oil and gas industry, which provides the main export and budget revenue. In addition, citizens rely primarily on state support and benefits and as a result, the economy of Turkmenistan is quite inert and poorly represented by other sectors, except oil and gas. In this regard, Kazakhstan has the strongest economy in the region that is the most diversified and integrated into the world economic system. However, large territory with a low population density with uneven settlement creates high costs for economic development,” said Uspanov.

All Central Asian countries experience a shortage of water resources that creates tensions both within states and in relations with neighbouring states. Uspanov believes these problems might be solved in a constructive manner.

The states of the region gained independence only 25 years ago after the collapse of the USSR. Social disintegration and political instability fuelled ethnic conflicts, massive impoverishment of the population and even a civil war. Amid severe conditions, not all countries managed to pass smoothly through the period of formation, development and consolidation of state institutions.

“In recent years, Kyrgyzstan witnessed two revolutions that led to a change of power. Nevertheless, President Almazbek Atambayev calmed the situation, paving the way for legal change of the country’s leadership. In Tajikistan, the head of state, Emomali Rahmon, managed to relieve some tension; however, people still remember the Tajik civil war. Uzbekistan has recently suffered the loss of its long-standing leader Islam Karimov, who firmly defended the country against any threats. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who replaced Karimov, should adapt the country to the current situation, taking all the best from the former leader. The situation is similar in Turkmenistan, but its leader, Saparmurat Niyazov, died earlier in 2006,” he said.

“In Kazakhstan, President Nursultan Nazarbayev is not only the leader of the nation, but he is also one of the most authoritative world leaders. His ability to think for years to come, experience, personal qualities… have allowed him to carry out the necessary vital reforms, strengthening the economy and statehood of the country to unprecedented heights in history,” said Uspanov.

Modern challenges, however, pose new tasks. Therefore, Kazakhstan needs to preserve the dynamics of development and ensure smooth transfer of large powers and responsibility from the President to the government, Parliament, local government agencies and local self-government bodies, the scholar said.

Analysing external factors affecting regional dynamics, Uspanov believes threats and challenges are largely related to drug trafficking, international terrorism and religious extremism as well as to historical influence of world powers in the region.

“Drug trafficking creates risks for the Central Asian states. A huge flow of drugs from Afghanistan to Russia and Europe puts pressure on the institutions of power, on the health and welfare of the population and on its security. It is necessary to strengthen the fight against this phenomenon, coordinating efforts with all interested parties at the interstate level,” said Uspanov.

In recent years, international terrorism and religious extremism became particularly dangerous; hundreds of terrorist acts perpetrated in the world have killed innocent civilians, elderly people, women and children. The Central Asian states also experienced these attacks while Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have witnessed terrorist threats by extremists.

“The so-called emissaries propagate hateful ideas among the young people, giving false values and eventually involving some of them in the ranks of terrorists. Even the most powerful states cannot cope with this evil alone. Therefore, deep cooperation among the world countries, and particularly the Central Asian states, is necessary to fight this threat in effective ways,” he said.

“Speaking about the influence of states on the Central Asian region, we shall note the political and diplomatic confrontation that existed in the 19th century between Britain and Russia over Afghanistan and neighbouring territories in Central and South Asia. Now, we can point to the role of Russia, China and the U.S. pursuing a policy towards the region in their national interests. These interests largely coincide with the interests of the Central Asian countries and have a positive effect (investments, loans, technology, cultural cooperation, security, etc.) Therefore, the countries shall know how to benefit from the presence of major players,” he added.

Regional conflicts are triggered by territorial disputes, lack of water resources and interethnic disagreements, noted Uspanov. Although there are potential conflicts, the parties have reached constructive solutions to the problems in recent years.

“To ensure national security, the Central Asian countries should deepen interstate cooperation in key areas, not only between each other but also with other key states; ensure sustainable development of the economy; find new growth points and adapt the economy and political system to the modern fast-changing realities of the day taking into account the national specifics. Countries need to use the advantageous geographical location, become a transport hub of Eurasia, attract international investment, develop science, education and medicine, strengthen armed and law enforcement forces and pursue accurate cultural and religious policies. Realising these tasks, the countries will gain the necessary stability and competitiveness, which will significantly reduce any risks to national security,” said Uspanov.




Delegation from Kazakhstan participated in PDAC-2017

A delegation from Kazakhstan headed by Mr. Timur Toktabayev, Vice-Minister of Investments and Development visited Toronto and Ottawa on March 6-10, 2017. Among the delegates were Director of the Subsoil Use Department Mr. Ruslan Baimishev, deputy CEO of KazGeology National Company Mr. Eldar Tagash and others.

In Toronto, the delegation participated in the annual Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) International Convention, Trade Show & Investors Exchange, which includes over 900 exhibitors and 22,000 attendees from 125 countries.

As in previous year, a national booth of Kazakhstan was organized in order to provide the visitors and guests with the latest information on the country’s mining sector and its potential, reforms in the area of subsoil use and mining industry. 

On the margins of the Convention, the delegates held a series of meetings, including with Mr. Al MacDonald, Mayor of North Bay and Mr. George Burton, president of Invest North Bay Development Corporation, representatives of Quebec’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, Laurentian University, and many companies, including Cameco Corporation, RioTinto, Kinross Gold Corp., GeoTech, Phoenix Geophysics and others.

The delegation also participated in the Eurasia Mining Conference organized by the Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association (CERBA), which takes the role of a secretariat of a Kazakhstan – Canada Business Council (KCBC). One of the main topics of the KCBC Mining and Natural Resources Working Group was discussion of the current preparations to the Kazakhstan – Canada Business Council’s 2nd meeting that will be organized in Astana in June on the margins of EXPO-2017.

In Ottawa, Kazakhstan’s delegates met with Ms. Stefania Trombetti, Director General, Policy and Economics Branch, Lands and Minerals Sector, Natural Resources Canada and held the detailed exchange of information with Canadian colleagues regarding Canada’s regulatory environment for mining, tax incentives for exploration, and research & development and other issues.

In general, the visit of Kazakhstan’s delegation to Canada allowed to establish new business connections and expand the existing partnerships, as well as to introduce the Canadian and international business community with the main aspects of Kazakhstan’s new Subsoil Code, which is currently being developed in accordance with the Third Modernization Program aimed at ensuring the global competitiveness of the country.


Government to launch additional 410 agricultural cooperatives to assist small farms

Astana Times, 13 March 2017

Four-hundred-and-ten agricultural cooperatives will be established in 2017 to support small and medium-sized farms. The cooperatives will help farms buy equipment, store and transport products, provide veterinary services, organise the supply of fodder and agrochemical products and help with lending.

Vice Minister of Agriculture of Kazakhstan Kairat Aituganov said the programme was launched last year and 157 cooperatives are already cooperating with 15,000 farms. The cooperatives created more than 100 milk collecting centres and 7,000 forage bases. In general, the indicative plans are executed in all regions, according to Kazinform.

Aituganov reported that as of March 9, all tasks have been achieved in all regions of the country.

The Ministry of Agriculture developed approaches to involve small and medium-sized farms in agricultural cooperation under the State Programme for the Development of the Agricultural and Industrial Complex for 2017-2021, an initiative of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The vice minister reported that financing of the cooperatives by the fund of financial support became the top priority of the fund. He emphasised that the initial payment is made at the expense of investment subsidies.

The fund implemented new directions of subsidising farmers: milk production cheapening, fattening of bulls and lambs, cheapening of the cost of equipment and machinery up to 50 percent and subsidies to cooperatives for reimbursement of VAT.

Tripartite plans have been concluded between the ministries of agriculture, labour and social protection of the population and city and regional administrations. A single call centre for consultations on cooperation and a website have been created. A group of experts has been trained on the basis of Atameken scientific and production enterprise to implement the new programme. Special information materials, including booklets and videos for training in the regions are used as well.

According to the vice minister, training seminars were organised in all 165 districts and cities of the state from Feb. 1 to 22 this year. As of March 9, 75 farms have purchased equipment using the state programme.

The ministry plans to allocate 50 billion tenge ($157.9 million) this year to support small and medium-sized farms.


Industry experts optimistic about introduction of autonomous vehicles in Kazakhstan

Astana Times, 13 March 2017

Iveco representative in Kazakhstan Lorenzo Bernardeli said he was optimistic about the future of autonomous vehicles in Kazakhstan during an international forum in Astana, according to the press services of Agromashholding and SaryarkaAvtoProm. Its partner in Kazakhstan will most likely be the AllurGroup assembly plant in Kostanai.

“During the forum, the representative of Iveco, Lorenzo Bernardeli, presented futuristic concepts of the cars with innovative solutions. Iveco is part of the CNH Industrial Corporation and is demonstrating an active introduction of cutting-edge technologies in the commercial technology sector. The speaker noted that the producer adheres to the policy of switching to the unmanned cars and expressed hope that Kazakh colleagues will be able to follow suit,” the press release read.

Bernardeli also said the range of Iveco cars manufactured in Kostanai was adapted for Kazakhstan to meet the needs of customers in this market, including climatic conditions and road conditions of the southern and central regions of the country.

“We are seeing a rapid development of production in Kazakhstan and the desire of our innovative partner AllurGroup to test and implement innovations and technologies; we think that models of futuristic cars will be available to the Kazakhstan market in the future,” he said.

Kostanai’s plant was the first plant to switch to the full-cycle production of cars and became a springboard for the formation in the country of adjacent production of auto components and spare parts, such as batteries, tires, glasses, electrical engineering, among other technological products while the plant is also developing commercial transport.

The production site is working on the localisation of processes and today, in addition to assembling, is carrying out welding and painting of parts in some models of commercial vehicles. Commercial vehicles meet all European standards and regulations of the Euro 5 type of fuel, and they also have a number of improved technical qualities. The share of localisation of technology is some 33 percent and in specialised assemblies is up to 50 percent. With the use of new technologies, it was possible to reduce the operational cost of equipment by 4 percent.

To ensure the maximum productivity Iveco has done considerable work to create the best braking system for all types of car parts. These innovative solutions are also applied in models that are being assembled in Kostanai today.





WBC add Kazakh flag to belt in honor of Gennady Golovkin

worldboxingnews.net, 12 March 2017

The World Boxing Council's famous green and gold belt has undergone several modifications in its 37 years, and the latest is the inclusion of Kazakhstan's impressive flag.

The WBC belt has being represented by the best and most spectacular champions in history including: Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez, Larry Holmes, Vitali Klitschko, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, Oscar de la Hoya and Floyd Mayweather.

Now as a mark of respect to Gennady 'GGG' Golovkin, who's brought so much honor to his nation, the Kazakh colors will also adorn the much admired belt.

An apt and timely inclusion, as the WBC middleweight belt will contested on March 18 when Gennady Golovkin defends his title against the capable, determined and also hard hitting Daniel Jacobs.




Film chronicling Kazakh domestication of wild horses to be released in 2018

Astana Times, 13 March 2017

A Canadian producer plans to release a film titled “Equus” about the history of horse domestication in the Central Asian region, announced Minister of Information and Communications Dauren Abayev at a March 7 conference in the capital.

“Today, we are planning to sign a very important memorandum between Kazakhstan State Television and Radio Company and famous Canadian director and anthropologist Niobe Thompson. This project is important for Kazakhstan and it will improve the image and tourism potential of our country. A large study was supported by Canada, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S.,” said Abayev.

“I think the project will be of great interest. We plan to release it in 2018. About 50 countries are ready to show it. We believe that this project is able to arouse serious interest in the world to the history, culture and traditions of the nomadic civilisation. This will give a new impetus to the development of popular science films in our country,” he said.

As a large base of archaeological material, Kazakhstan will be represented as the cradle of horsemanship and horse breeding in the film. The authors plan to demonstrate the revolutionary role horse breeding played in the migration of peoples, trade and military affairs.

Thompson noted that the culture of domestication of horses began on the territory of Kazakhstan.

“Unique excavations in Botai prove that the domestication of horses began in Kazakhstan, and we have a unique opportunity to open this history to the whole world and to present our film,” said Thompson.

Thompson has been studying the relationship between man and horse for many years. He expressed confidence that the domestication of the horse helped progress the development of human culture.

“I believe that the history of man during all these 6,000 years is the history of the equestrians. Horse domestication created our common civilisation. Many people know about this because we live in a different world. It is important to inform people that everything we see around us is the consciousness of people on horses,” he said.


British leather goods with Kazakh soul

Astana Times, 7 March 2017

Aiman Sagatova, also known by her artistic nickname Vasya, created Kazakhsha Leather Art Studio almost three years ago in Aldershot, England. After working as an interpreter, the young artisan decided to make her hobby a full-time job.

“Most of my items are made of full grain vegetable tanned leather, which is the best material among other types of leathers. Working with this particular kind of leather, I use old techniques such as hand sewing and tooling. Almost every work, product and project I do has a hint of nomadic touch with a blend of Central Asia spirit and heritage of Sarmatian and Scythian ancient cultures,” notes her website,www.kazakhshaleatherartstudio.co.uk.

Sagatova is not only an artisan, she is also a businesswoman, running her studio and coping with everything on her own. The studio is not only about creating, as she needs to multi-task orders to keep her business going. Sagatova has numerous responsibilities, such as customer calls, administrative work, promotion and working on new designs, she said in an interview for this story.

“For me, my art studio is both my business and way to express my creativity. It is my lifestyle. My work is shaped and scheduled around my leather art studio. It takes practically all my life. It supports me, pays my bills and supports my children. I think it is a unique situation when a person does what he wants and it pays his bills, because in real life sometimes people do what they don’t like. They do office work and absolutely hate it and back home they wish they could be someone else,” she said.

Sagatova has been living in the United Kingdom for 10 years. Speaking fluent English and Italian, she previously worked as an interpreter. She always had hobbies, but they never were on a full-time or professional level.

“I enjoyed my job. It was the right decision to go in that area, but at some point I felt that there was no more progression for me. There is always room for improvement in any profession, but I didn’t see myself working as an interpreter until the end of my life,” she said.

She has been doing crafts since age six, working not only with leather, but also with metal, wood, wool and silver. Three years ago she finally decided to launch her own studio, Kazakhsha, which literally means Kazakh.

“I am from Kazakhstan. It is my identity. I’m not promoting Kazakhstan. I don’t think the country needs promotion. The country is representing itself. I think that Kazakhsha is sort of a reminder for me where I am from, where my roots are. That’s it,” said Sagatova.

Kazakhsha Leather Art Studio produces items such as bags, wallets, clutches, passport covers and belts and Sagatova falls in love with every item she makes. Each piece is different and takes a different amount of time, such as a rifle case that needed two months.

She is inspired by various styles, techniques and themes.

“I like Kazakh motifs. I am familiar with them, they are native for me, but I have to accommodate different tastes and different clients. Some people ask for replicas of certain images; some ask for images of horses, Scandinavian patterns, Celtic patterns and others. It is not 100 percent Kazakh motifs,” she said.

Customers are not always familiar with Kazakhstan or Kazakh designs.

“Central Asia has still not been discovered for Europe. Some people don’t know where it is. Some people find something interesting and mesmerising in Kazakh patterns, but not everyone. People have different tastes, different backgrounds – cultural, economical. There are so many English girls who fall in love with the bracelets that I do with Kazakh patterns, but they are not really interested whether it is a Kazakh pattern or not,” she added.

Sagatova sells items through her website, which hosts an e-commerce platform. They are also available on Etsy, a popular online marketplace featuring handmade items.