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May 18, 2011

Kazakh bank BTA asks UK to arrest former head

ALMATY, May 18 (Reuters) – BTA BTAS.KZ, Kazakhstan’s No. 3
bank by assets, has asked Britain to arrest its former head
Mukhtar Ablyazov, from whom it seeks billions of dollars in
compensation for alleged misappropriation.

One of Kazakhstan’s richest men, Ablyazov was part of Kazakh
President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s inner circle and ran BTA, the
country’s largest bank at the time, before he fell out with the
state and fled to London in 2009.

May 14, 2011

Bin Laden’s death may spur fresh terror: regional body

ALMATY (Reuters) – The killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces can trigger a backlash from his supporters and a “new wave of terror” across a giant area surrounding Afghanistan, a regional security body said on Saturday.

Dominated by China and Russia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) also unites the mostly Muslim ex-Soviet Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and occupies three-fifths of Eurasia, populated by over 1.5 billion, or a quarter of the world’s population.

Apr 27, 2011

Kazakh Alliance Bank in stake sale talks with EBRD

ALMATY, April 27 (Reuters) – Alliance Bank ASBN.KZ,
Kazakhstan’s sixth-largest lender by assets, said it was in
talks with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
[EBRD.UL] on the possible sale of its stake.

“Yes, we are in talks with the EBRD about the potential
acquisition of a stake in Alliance Bank,” Maral Amrina, managing
director of Alliance Bank, told a teleconference on Wednesday.

Apr 3, 2011

Newsmaker: Kazakhstan’s “man of steel” poised to rule on

ALMATY (Reuters) – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, certain of re-election to rule Central Asia’s largest economy for five more years, seems set on guiding the nation even after his long reign finally ends.

The 70-year-old former steelworker, popularly nicknamed “Papa,” has held an iron grip on power for two decades since Soviet days, paying little heed to home-grown opposition and pressure from the West for democratic reforms.

Mar 31, 2011

Economy trumps democracy ahead of Kazakh vote

ALMATY (Reuters) – Having set the pace among the post-Soviet economies of Central Asia, Kazakhstan’s president may need to twin further growth with some political reforms to emulate the route to prosperity of developed Asian economies.

Nursultan Nazarbayev, 70, has prioritised economic growth over democratic freedoms in more than two decades as leader of Kazakhstan. His supporters say higher incomes, industrial output and an economy worth $147 billion vindicate this policy.

Mar 28, 2011

Analysis – Successor question looms after Kazakh election

ALMATY (Reuters) – When he secures another five years in office on Sunday, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev will also win time to answer the question on everybody’s lips — who will succeed him? The 70-year-old former steelworker has steered his oil-producing Central Asian nation with an iron hand since Soviet times, brooking no dissent while putting in place market reforms and overseeing foreign investment. He left many of his critics and loyalists speechless when he set an early election for April 3 — a move some political analysts say was aimed at preventing a challenge from within his inner circle, rather than from the disparate opposition.

He is expected to win the presidential election easily.

Allowed by law to run for an unlimited number of terms, Nazarbayev has said he will rule for as long as he is fit. He also enjoys the official title “Leader of the Nation,” a status that will allow him to shape policy even after retirement.

Mar 17, 2011

Kazakh village believes God chose Nazarbayev to rule

USHKONYR, Kazakhstan, March 17 (Reuters) – Kazakhstan’s
veteran leader Nursultan Nazarbayev is set easily to win another
five years at the helm of Central Asia’s largest economy. His
native village thinks it knows why — Allah has chosen him.

In towns and cities across the oil-rich nation of 16.4
million, small groups of the disparate opposition are calling
for a boycott of a snap presidential election on April 3, while
three hopefuls challenging Nazarbayev smile down from posters.

Mar 15, 2011

Rights body closes Uzbek office after government pressure

ALMATY (Reuters) – Uzbekistan has forced Human Rights Watch to shut down its local office, the group said on Tuesday, calling for tougher U.S. and European Union policies towards the authoritarian Central Asian state.

“Human Rights Watch’s expulsion comes during a deepening human rights crisis in Uzbekistan,” New York-based HRW said.

Mar 1, 2011

Kazakhstan to offer KMG EP stake in “people’s IPO”

ALMATY (Reuters) – Kazakhstan’s citizens will be offered the chance to own a 5 percent stake in the listed arm of KazMunaiGas when the state kicks off a “people’s IPO” to boost exposure to the stock market, the country’s president said.

Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is expected to win an election on April 3 and extend his presidency into a third decade, said KazMunaiGas Exploration and Production (KMGq.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) RDGZ.KZ would sell shares worth a cumulative $500 million this year.

Jan 4, 2011

Factbox: Key political risks to watch in Kyrgyzstan

ALMATY (Reuters) – Kyrgyzstan, rocked by political violence and upheaval last year, has laid the foundation for Central Asia’s first parliamentary democracy, but it is unclear whether the new model will consolidate a country split by regional and ethnic clans.

The impoverished former Soviet republic, which hosts both Russian and U.S. military air bases, held elections on October 10 that resulted in five parties winning seats in a new parliament.