Kazakhstan. Opposition leader Galimzjan Zhakijanov was released in January after being jailed for over three years, convicted of abuse of power. His supporters put the punishment in connection with Zhakijanov’s newly formed and banned party, Democratic elections, which called for reform.
According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in Kazakhstan include Independence Day (December 16) and New Year (January 1). Another prominent opposition politician, Altynbek Sarsenbaiuly, was murdered in February. His bodyguard and driver were also shot to death. It was the second time in a few months that an opposition politician was found dead under mysterious circumstances. Both had previously been President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s ally but had gone into opposition and accused the presidential family of widespread corruption. Several people in the security service were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the murder of Sarsenbaiuly, and the head of the security service resigned. An official at Parliament’s office was also arrested and, according to the Interior Minister, he had admitted the murder. But the opposition suspected that the official was being used as a scapegoat. Opposition leaders demanded that the investigation include the president’s daughter and daughter-in-law, who were in legal dispute with Sarsenbaiuly.
In the midst of the criticism from the opposition, President Nazarbayev and his daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva formed a political alliance, where the daughter’s party Asar joined the President’s Otan. Thus, the ruling family increased its political and economic power.
In September, President Nazarbayev visited the United States and President George W. Bush. The United States is the largest investor in Kazakhstan ‘s growing oil and gas industry, but China and Russia are simultaneously increasing their influence. Competition for Kazakhstan ‘s energy raw materials has given the country an unusually strong economic growth compared to the other former Soviet Union. Nazabayev’s opponents believe that because of this, the United States sees between the fingers of the undemocratic system.
When Borat’s film comedy became a world success in the fall, many Kazakhstani were upset over British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s operation with Kazakhstan . They perceived the film as racist and sexist. However, when President Nazarbayev visited Britain, he explained that laughter was the best reaction to Borat.
In November, the Social Democratic Party refused registration. The party is led by Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, one of President Nazarbayev’s sharpest critics.
In December, opposition leader and businessman Bolat Abilov was charged with fraud charges, a charge he claimed was politically motivated.
In April 2015, Nazarbayev was re-elected as president with 98% of the vote. In March 2016, he conducted parliamentary elections. His party, Nur Otan got 82.2% of the vote and 84 out of Parliament’s 98 seats.
In December 2015, the EU upgraded relations with Kazakhstan through its Partnership Agreement. In March 2016, EU President Jean-Claude Juncker met with Nazarbayev, declaring that “the country’s reforms were promising”.
In April and May 2016, peaceful demonstrations were carried out against planned changes to the land laws, giving foreigners the right to lease unused land for up to 25 years. Authorities responded again by blocking access to the larger squares and main arteries, and by using administrative jail to prevent potential participants from participating. Both organizing and attending peaceful assemblies without the permission of the authorities was a violation of both the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Offenses. It could be punished with significant fines or up to 75 days in detention. New protests against the land law were scheduled for May 21 in Astana, Almaty and other cities. In days 17-20. May at least 34 were arrested as organizers of the demonstrations, after announcing their intention to participate on social media and passing on information about time and place. Most were detained administratively for 10-15 days. On May 21, police again blocked access to the larger squares where the protests were to take place. They arrested about 500 people in Almaty and a smaller number in other cities. At the police station, the detainees were forced to sign a declaration that they had attended an illegal meeting and to give their fingerprints. Most were released again after a few hours of detention. It also applied to 48 journalists who tried to cover the protests. However, not everyone got off so easily. In July, folk singer Zhanat Esentaev was sentenced to 2½ years in prison for his participation,
In June 2016, the country was elected a seat of the UN Security Council during the period 2017-18.
In August, opposition leader Vladimir Kozlov was released on trial.
In September 2016, Nazarbayev removed Prime Minister Massimov. He was replaced by Bakhytzhan Sagintayev.
After Donald Trump’s election victory as US President in November 2016, he spoke with Nazabayev at the end of the month. Trump took the opportunity to declare that Kazakhstan’s achievements under Nazabayev’s leadership had been a “miracle.” In December, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Kazakhstan. The two countries signed research and development agreements, aviation, agricultural cooperation and the establishment of a joint agricultural consortium.