Nazarbayev opens World Kurultai of Kazakhs in Astana

ASTANA – Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev opened June 23 the fifth World Kurultai of Kazakhs in Astana, which takes place in the capital within the framework of EXPO 2017. Nearly 850 delegates and guests, including 350 ethnic Kazakhs from 39 countries, arrived in Astana to take part.

“I want to address Kazakhs from the rostrum with lines from a poem – every Kazakh is the one and only for me. I send my warmest greetings to our compatriots living abroad,” Nazarbayev said in his opening remarks.

He noted that every Kazakh contributes to the development of Kazakhstan regardless of where they live.

Established in 1992 and taking place every five years, the general idea behind the creation of Kurultai, which means congregation in Kazakh, is to unite Kazakhs all over the world, promote Kazakh culture and traditions as they can be subject to assimilation and let Kazakhs know that they are welcome in their historical homeland.

Eighty percent of all delegates this year are taking part in the Kurultai for the first time. Unlike previous years, this time the organisers put the focus on Kazakh youth residing in foreign countries – 60 percent of delegates are young people not older than 35, who succeeded in various fields abroad.

The delegates will focus on issues related to the funding of Kazakh cultural centres abroad, various forms of assistance to Kazakh diasporas and measures to encourage young Kazakhs from abroad to study in Kazakhstan.745b73154b20ff180306b7e76883ae9c

According to Nazarbayev, one of the many ways to unite Kazakhs is to accelerate the introduction of the Latin alphabet. “Transition of the Kazakh language to Latin alphabet is a step closer to greater integration in global science and education system and to our spiritual unity. On the post-Soviet space, we use Cyrillic, our compatriots in China use the Arabic script and our brothers in the West use Latin. When we speak to each other, it is one language, but when it comes to reading, we have three different languages. We cannot understand each other. We become estranged,” Nazarbayev noted, as reported by Kazinform news agency.

With the potential of the Latin alphabet to unite Kazakhs around the world, Nazarbayev believes the transition can occur earlier than 2025 initially announced in his state-of-the-nation address in 2012. “I believe it is not difficult, because our children learn English since the first grade. All schools have English language classes, which use the Latin alphabet. The young generation will have no problem with that. We will not have any problems either,” Nazarbayev added.

Initially scheduled for 2016, Kurultai was postponed to coincide with a major international event now taking place in Astana – EXPO 2017, – as delegates expressed their interest in attending the exhibition.

As part of their visit, delegates will visit pavilions at the expo, Astana’s sights and attractions and Ethnic Village complex, which brings visitors closer to the Kazakh culture and traditions. They will also take part in round tables and seminars organized by the country’s ministries.

Approximately one million ethnic Kazakhs have returned to Kazakhstan since the country gained its independence in 1991. Last year, Kazakhstan simplified citizenship application procedures for ethnic Kazakhs, which increased the number of Kazakh families returning to Kazakhstan eight times.



Forum presents Kazakh President’s model of national unity

ASTANA – The model of public accord and nationwide unity of led by President Nursultan Nazarbayev was presented at the forum of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan (APK) called Energy of Peace and Harmony within EXPO 2017, according to the press service of Akorda presidential residence

“The Constitution of our country guarantees and protects the equality of rights of all citizens regardless of race, nationality, religion or social status,” said State Secretary of Kazakhstan Gulshara Abdykalikova at the event, emphasising that Kazakhstan has more than 100 ethnicities and 18 faiths living in peace.

The forum gathered the Deputy Chairperson and head of the APK Secretariat Darkhan Mynbai, members of the Mazhilis (lower house) of the Parliament, members of the assembly, representatives of state bodies, diplomatic corps, ethno-cultural associations, foreign guests of expo, scientific intelligentsia, masters of folk and applied art.

The events took place at the National Museum of Kazakhstan, where a detailed presentation of the Kazakhstan model of public accord and national unity is presented for the period of the expo.

Abdykalikova noted Kazakhstan’s model has become a recognised standard of a balanced policy in the integration of a multi-ethnic society. She also said the energy of peace and harmony is the cleanest, most noble energy on the planet.

Forum participants also visited the exhibition of special editions of mass media of ethno-cultural associations, as well as viewed the products of masters of folk and applied art and attended master classes on national Kazakh cuisine.

The Secretary of State and guests of the presentation took part in the opening ceremony of the Alley of Peace and Accord of the Assembly of Kazakhstan on the territory of the Expo Park.

“Let everyone who passes along the Alley of Peace and Harmony take away a piece of warmth of hospitable and benevolent Kazakhstan land,” added Abdykalikova.



Kazakh e-government mobile app offers 83 services

ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s electronic government mobile app offers 83 services to its citizens, announced  Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Kairat Balykbayev at a June 15 session of the 10th Astana Economic Forum devoted to the digitalisation of world economies.

“It is necessary to note that the Global E-Government Forum named Kazakhstan’s e-government mobile app the best one in the one-stop shop nomination in terms of provision of public services,” he said.

Balykbayev said Kazakhstan has the infrastructure necessary for e-government in the offering of more than 700 types of services in electronic format and through the e-government portal.

All licences in Kazakhstan have been issued only in electronic format since 2012, he said.

Balykbayev also said the number of public services offered through the Centres for Public Services (so called TSONs) grows annually. The centres provided more than 26 million services in 2016.

Kazakhstan’s citizens have three options to receive public services – the electronic government portal, Centres for Public Services and Government for Citizens State Corporation.

With the idea of electronic government initially announced by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the electronic government portal was established in 2006 with registered users now equalling six million. Among many benefits of electronic government, including mobility and time, it also contributes to fighting corruption, as it eliminates personal interaction between service provider and service recipient.

The country’s efforts in improving its electronic government system fostered Kazakhstan’s high performance in international rankings. For instance, Kazakhstan was ranked 33th among 193 countries in the United Nations E-Government Survey 2016.

It also held 39th position among 139 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Networked Readiness Index 2016 that assesses how countries use communication and technologies to foster competitiveness of their economies.




Civil Service Affairs and Anti-Corruption Agency seek to fight quasi-public sector procurement corruption

ASTANA – The imperfection of the legislative base contributes to the growth of corruption in quasi-public sector procurement, said Civil Service Affairs and Anti-Corruption Agency Deputy Chairperson Alik Shpekbayev at a June 12 roundtable on legislative regulation of quasi-public sector procurement.

Alik Shpekbayev. Photo credit kapital.kz

The number of corruption offenses in public procurement in quasi-public sector companies has increased 1.5 times this year in comparison to the previous year. One hundred and thirty seven offences were registered in 2016 and 51 offences have been recorded since the beginning of this year, reported Kapital.kz.

The main problem is that only individuals performing administrative functions are subject to corruption offenses, according to the criminal code and the law on combating corruption.

A number of measures to eliminate corruption in quasi-public sector procurement were announced at the meeting.

“There is a proposal to revise the approach to procurement in the quasi-public sector, to develop a separate law and to introduce modern electronic procurement mechanisms to exclude corruption risks in this area. There is a need to take into consideration the introduction of a centralised procurement system in the quasi-public sector ensuring transparency in decision-making according to world experience. This experience is widespread in Denmark, South Korea, the U.S. and the U.K.,” said Shpekbayev.

A need also exists to introduce appropriate changes in criminal and administrative legislation in terms of expanding the range of subjects of corruption offenses. The norms of the legislative acts should be disseminated adequately in terms of discussion, approval, registration, introduction and publication of internal documents. Anti-corruption expertise should also be conducted.

“This directly influences the public’s attitude. Citizens must know what documents and normative acts are adopted in the joint stock companies,” he said.

It is important to audit all internal documents of national holdings and companies that regulate the expenditure of public funds and allocations and to create a special working group consisting of representatives of interested state bodies. The institution of public control at all stages of managing the activities of companies in the quasi-public sector should also be introduced.

“We propose rotating employees every two years, taking into account the fact that the procurement sector has high corruption risks. This is also an international practice,” he said.

Taking measures to conduct an external analysis of corruption risks, as provided by the law on anti-corruption in the companies in the quasi-public sector, is also necessary.



Surgicorps conduct free life-changing surgeries in Kazakhstan

ASTANA – Doctors from the U.S.-based Surgicorps International conducted 72 free reconstructive surgeries during its May 19-25 mission in Astana.

Photo credit: kz.usembassy.gov

American plastic surgeons together with local surgeons from the Maternity and Childhood Care National Centre treated children with severe congenital facial malformations, such as cleft lip and palate and burn scars.

Students from Nazarbayev University School of Medicine (NUSOM) headed by Massimo Pignatelli took part in the operations as volunteers. They also served as interpreters between Surgicorps team and local doctors.

“I believe that this is a unique chance to be in a surgery room with one of the best surgeons and professionals and watch how their knowledge, skills and passion to work changes the lives of people,” NUSOM student Dias Argandykov said.

Sophomore medical student Yekaterina Khamzina also shared her interest in this programme. “To work with Surgicorps International is an excellent opportunity to learn from some of the most committed doctors in the U.S. An opportunity to observe surgeries and assist the team in the surgery room makes it a valuable experience. It is also a great chance to help and apply my knowledge in practice,” she added.

The main mission was Surgicorps’ third trip to Kazakhstan after their two introductory trips in October 2016 and March 2017, during which they identified significant demand in reconstructive surgeries and compiled the list of children scheduled for the operations.

Headed by Surgicorps founder Jack Demos, 12 doctors served the needs of Kazakh patients including Tara Burns, Melinda Handler, Betty Hearne, David Kim, Guy Leone, Aamir Siddiqui, James Terman and Anna Wooten. The group included surgeons, anesthesiologists, therapists, paramedics, nurses, surgical assistants, physiotherapists and pathologists.

This unique project initiated by the Asyl Bala Foundation with the help of the International Assistance Group and Surgicorps team seeks to exchange experience and knowledge between local surgeons and U.S. colleagues as well as decrease the disability rate among children in Kazakhstan.

Surgicorps International is a non-profit organisation founded by Jack Demos in 1994. The idea to establish medical missions came to him during his first medical mission trip to the Philippines. The team strives to provide free reconstructive surgeries to people in need in developing countries who are unable to access treatment due to either poor medical conditions in a country or financial obstacles.

Each mission gathers 15-35 doctors as well as non-medical volunteers, young people who plan to become doctors. They assist the team in coordinating schedule, helping patients in pre- and post-operation periods as well as recording the entire trip in form of photos or blogs. Teams normally change, because needs in various specialties and medical equipment vary across destinations.

The mission is supported by various donations, yet doctors who volunteered are fully responsible for their expenses. Each trip costs $40,000 – $90,000, depending on the amount of equipment required for each country.

Surgicorps surgeons have conducted more than 5,000 life-changing surgeries in 20 countries since 1994. This year they have been to Bhutan, Kazakhstan and plan to visit Guatemala, Zambia and Vietnam.



Kazakhstan conducts first stage of nuclear fusion reactor physical launch

ASTANA – National Nuclear Centre of Kazakhstan completed June 9 the first stage of physical launch of Kazakh Tokamak for Material Testing (KTM), a nuclear fusion reactor developed jointly with Russia and at the instruction of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Photo credit: nnc.kz

“One of the main issues important for building future thermonuclear reactors has been the creation and testing of structural materials. This problem will be solved with the launch of Kazakh Tokamak for Material Testing,” said General Secretary of the National Nuclear Centre of Kazakhstan Erlan Batyrbekov.

The event took place in Kurchatov in eastern Kazakhstan, the same place where in the 1950s a group of Soviet scientists produced the first tokamaks.

“The Kazakh-made Tokamak will serve as a platform for material testing at heat equal to 20 megawatts per a square metre, which meets the parametres of energy load for future thermonuclear reactors,” Batyrbekov added.

Unlike nuclear fission reactors widespread across the world, nuclear fusion reactors produce energy by fusing atoms. However, it has long been a difficult task for scientists to achieve the generation of energy through nuclear fusion, the same mechanism going on in the Sun, yet hard to achieve at earth conditions.

In accordance with the adopted programme of physical launch of the KTM, the goal of the physical launch phase is to debug and check the working capacity of KTM systems. This stage entails adjustment of the initial phase of the plasma discharge scenario – formation of necessary conditions inside a vacuum camera of KTM with following break-down.

The work involved experts from the National Nuclear Centre of Kazakhstan, thermonuclear research unit of the National Research Centre’s Kurchatov Institute and State Research Centre of the Russian Federation Troitsk Institute for Innovation and Fusion Research. Following the launch, the National Nuclear Centre of Kazakhstan and Kurchatov Institute signed a protocol stating that the main goals of the first stage of physical launch of KTM were achieved.

In the meantime, the work is underway, and KTM is scheduled to be commissioned by the end of 2017.

According to Batyrbekov, the research potential of KTM will address numerous engineering and scientific issues. Indeed, in the next two years, the facility will turn into a platform for joint research under the programme of cooperation of Commonwealth of Independent States countries in the peaceful use of atomic energy until 2020 called Cooperation Atom-CIS.



Kazakhstan’s population nears 18 million people

ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s population stood at 17.9 million people as of May 1, Chairperson of Statistics Committee of National Economy Ministry Nurbolat Aidapkelov announced at a June 5 government briefing.

However, the committee is not publishing open data on the population base yet. When the number reaches 18 million people an announcement will be made, Vlast.kz reports.

“As of May 1, the number amounted to 17,994,000 people. As a whole, the growth amounted to 241,000 people per one year. … We do not see 18 million yet but are expecting,” Aidapkelov said.

The population has increased 1.45 percent in 2017 from 2016. Detailed information about the population base in separate regions, birth rate, mortality and other figures has not been published from July of last year, a previous report by Total.kz stated.

First Vice-Minister of National Economy Ruslan Dalenov mentioned it has been a long time since the country’s population numbers were publicly available.

One can track the moment when the population reaches 18 million by visiting a website the committee on statistics will establish in July.

“We are now going to launch an online register. This means every citizen will see how many people are currently residing in Kazakhstan at an interval of several seconds. We will be publishing this data and launching this project during the next month,” Dalenov added, according to Vlast.kz.

“We were not publishing until that moment because we are clarifying methodology. Because we are introducing an electronic meter, we were clarifying all data, which has taken time. Now after an online register will be published, we will go back to the monthly publishing of ‘solid’ reports on the figure of our population,” he added.

More than seven million Kazakh residents were born in the past 25 years. Approximately 3.59 million were females and 3.77 million were males. South Kazakhstan has been setting birth rate records during this period as more than 1.5 million people were born there.



New road emergency response system expected to save hundreds of lives per year

ASTANA – The government will adopt by the end of 2018 a notification system to emergency services for road accidents that is expected to reduce emergency response times by 30 to 40 percent and save hundreds of lives per year, Minister of Defence and Aerospace Industry Beibut Atamkulov said during a June 7 government hour in the Mazhilis (lower chamber of Parliament).

The system will be used to call emergency response services, monitor vehicles on the road and forecast emergency situations.

“Thanks to this system, relief aid will be delivered over a period of the so called ‘golden hour,’ this will allow to reduce mortality on roads to a significant degree. The system functions in pilot mode now from Jan. 1 of this year, as foreseen by Kazakhstan’s obligation within the Customs Union. The works on this continue and will be completed next year,” Atamkulov said, adding that 50 percent of all this occur because emergency services did not respond in time.

The system will involve a signal for assistance that will pass to a data processing centre, which will determine the coordinates of a road accident and which cars are involved.

The signal will pass from the centre to an operator who in real-time mode will contact the person sending out the call for help to clarify whether medical aid is needed, the number of victims and that information is passed to emergency agencies.

A programme of support was developed for the system’s data centre in all 14 regional emergency departments with system operators and automation.



Kazakhstan improves on key indices of latest UN Human Development Report

ASTANA – Kazakhstan improved on key indices over 2015 in latest United Nations Global, Regional and National Human Development report.

Compared to 2015, life expectancy increased to 69.6 years from 69.4 years, average years in education rose to 11.7 compared to 11.4 and per capita gross national income reached $22,093, up from $20,876, according to a June 8 press release from the UN office in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan’s overall ranking as a high human development status country remained at 56.

The findings of the latest report were presented June 8 at Nazarbayev University by UN representatives and the Istanbul Regional Hub of the United Nations Development Programme.

“All three of these reports focus on ensuring that the benefits of human development are fairly distributed, and that no one is left behind. Such a focus is critically important, both in the world in general and in upper middle-income countries like Kazakhstan,” Cihan Sultanoglu said, the June 8 press release of the UN office in Kazakhstan reported.

Sultanoglu is the UN Commissioner-General for EXPO 2017, Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

According to the report, the significance of opportunities for the development of people and their well-being is the vital element of the human development concept and not the Gross National Product.

Each year, UNDP experts calculate the index to track and measure changes in the living standards between countries by comparing life expectancy, level of education and level of living.

In light of the growing importance of the human development concept, reports cover more areas of sustainability, such as inequality and empowerment in a broader sense.

Experts also say the Human Development Index indicates the course of political reforms and that it could become a tool for policymakers.

“In this regard, the presentation of the reports served as a platform for comprehensive discussion in the field of human development and its issues on global, regional and national levels,” the press release mentioned.



Rehabilitation centre for people with disabilities opens in Karaganda region

ASTANA – A rehabilitation centre for people with disabilities was opened in Karkaralinsk, a town in the Karaganda region. The centre was designed and built in consultation with those who will use the facility and in line with international standards.

“Inpatient social and medical care is as close to home conditions as possible … Creation of comfortable conditions for people with disabilities is a priority in the social policy of the state in accordance with the law on ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” said Deputy Akim (Governor) of the Karaganda region Zhandos Abishev, Kazinform reports.

The three-story building of the centre, which can treat up to 64 patients, was using daily consultations with people with disabilities who came to the construction site to consult with builders.

The project cost 703 million tenge (US$2.2 million), including the repair and purchase of medical equipment. At that, 447 million tenge (US$1.4 million) was allocated from the state budget for the construction. The remaining 225 million (US$717,000) tenge was given by a sponsor.

For visually impaired people, information is presented in Braille. The facility also includes two hairdressing salons, a room for social and domestic rehabilitation, a kitchen where people with disabilities can cook their own meals if they wish. In the medical building, there are double and single rooms. There is a separate block with beds for spinal patients. There are offices of traumatologist-orthopedist, rehabilitologist, neurologist and surgeons on the first floor.

“The institution is ready to provide services to more than 500 persons with disabilities per year. In total, nearly 16,000 people with disabilities live in the Karaganda region. The rehabilitation period lasts two-six weeks,” said Maxim Galiullin, acting head of the department for coordination of employment and social programmes of the region.