BBC HARDtalk On the Road in Kazakhstan

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BBC HARDtalk On the Road in Kazakhstan5

First shown 12:30am 20 Jun 2018.

HARDtalk is on the road in Kazakhstan, a vast country which was for years a remote outpost of the Soviet empire. It is now a crossroad linking China, Russia and Europe far to the west. Kazakhstan has been transformed by oil wealth. But while Central Asia's biggest economy is gearing for change, many who demand political freedoms and human rights are systematically silenced. Will political reform follow in a country whose leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has been in power for 27 years and wins elections with 97% of the vote?

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I take no credit and/or responsibility for this video at all. I receive no and shall not in future receive any financial benefit by publishing this video. It is here only for educational and historical reasons - this interview has some glimpses of events that took place in the republic under corrupt and bloody regime. There was blood all right : recall the circumstances under which Рахат Алиев, the estranged husband of the eldest daughter of the president, was found dead just after deciding to run for a president. Then there was the opposition member Алтынбек Сарсенбаев and his poor driver Журавлёв. They were all found executed. Recall how under strange circumstances Татишев was found dead in an incident while he was supposed hunting(Later on, his bank, BTA was taken over). I hope you folks can watch this modest interview and see how ugly this regime is - it tolerates no opposition. There are no elections. Instead, rigged and illegitimate, deterministic process, with pre-determined winner more aptly called "selection" is taking place every so often, with the winner taking absurd victories with figures like 97.7% or more. The regime has monopolized all the riches of the land, belonging to the people of the republic, but it only distributed debts to all its citizens, effectively taking its population as hostages. The mafia like run state/gov, run by the "family" and its loyal head-honchos, is hiding most of the wealth abroad in off-shores. Panama papers anyone? This regime is keen taking credit for its economic prudence. It even likes to paint the picture where it has revivified this unheard of oasis of prosperity, in the middle of nowhere, from the ashes of a collapsed/failed odious state - USSR. However, if you look closely and pay attention to details, you will see that the republic is still, just like back in the days of USSR, makes majority of its GDP from exporting raw resources. About 70% of the exports comes from oil and gas. The rest is metals, uranium and a bit of other minerals. While this is not too bad in itself, you have to ask yourself what did this regime bring or what did they brought about worthy of talking. The truth is somewhat painful – nothing. Essentially, their claim to fame is easily accounted by the fact that they only have been exporting raw resources. That is, this regime has not made any significant progress since the days of USSR, which it likes to paint as something that was rather backwards and wrong. Yet it didn't create those riches, instead it inherited all that and was siphoning and embezzling all that. Their economic ineptitude brought people numerous devaluations of the currency - Tenge. Take a look at FX rates: it started out with around 30 Tenges for a USD in around 1990s. In the 1995 Tenge devalued to 60 Tenges for a USD. That is, it devalued two times. In 1996 it took a hike to 70 Tenges for a USD. In 2000 it was 160 Tenges for a USD. That is 500% in 10 years. And it is not like people’s well-being rose five fold. Far from it. For the next decade, the oil prices were growing steadily, so there was no pressure on the Tenge, untill about 2014 when oil prices collapsed and with it Tenge tumbled to 180 and then to 380 Tenges for a USD in 2016. In 2018, it is about 340 Tenges for a USD. That is about 900% of currency devaluation. The irony is that initially, the regime was adamant that there was no crisis. That is they struggled to explain the nation the so called impedance mismatch whereby on the national TV everything was painted rosy and with promising outlook with the ever strong and stable leadership and the worsening economic situation of the people where their real buying power plunged quite painfully. However, in about 2008, after the infamous fall of US subprime mortgage market, the interest rates hiked around the world somewhat and the accounts of the borrowing markets of the developing economies dried up meaning that the housing prices were about to take a hit. And it did and with it, the housing bubble collapsed – yet the creditors abroad wanted their money back with interest. This is the time when the banking sector, of which the regime was so proud of took a massive hit. The regime was quick to blame external sources for the worsening economy of the state. Initially, however, they were adamant that the republic was an oasis of stability in the region and in the world showing its economic prowess, being this non-volatile economic and financial, maverick state. However the tune changed, dramatically so, after the prices on crude oil, the main export of the republic, fell from $150/barrel to about $30/barrel. Suddenly, the hacks in the GOV and the *supreme leader* was talking about unheard of before crisis in the world economy and the republic, being tightly integrated into the world economy took a hit. He was not to blame. That was the story anyway, broadcast for internal consumption. The world economy and major countries however never had a crisis at the time - instead, they took benefit from falling oil prices and enjoyed low energy prices. Instead it was weak, 3rd world economies and regimes in the region, reliant on export of crude oil and gas that were barely scrapping by. So much for the economic superpower in the Central Eurasia. So much for second Singapore. It is laughable to think about this in retrospect, but the regime in Kazakhstan likens itself on the paragon that was Lee Kuan Yew. At least that was the image they were channeling. However, the people felt the devaluation hard – they couldn’t pay the mortgages which were denominated in foreign, hard currency when their currency they get paid with weakened by the factor of two or so. And, this might look alien and shocking to ousiders, but in Kazakhstan a mortgage rate of 12% ( in USD of course. With such volatility on FX many banks collapsed after 2008 ) was considered quite normal. Such rates are considered unethical in many places of the world. So you get the idea, the people of the republic are quite naive and have been dominated by this crooked regime for decades. Majority of people have to live off minuscule income. I would estimate the monthly income per family! at about $300. To give some perspective, how poor majority of people are: the prices of most common goods like groceries, vehicles, drugs and other products are on par with those in Europe. Even more expensive in many cases, because the republic barely produces anything worthy of note. Everything worth buying is imported from other countries. So the market is ripe with low quality, knock offs like infamous abibas and others. The republic can't provide its population with food as well. If the borders are closed off and imports of food is banned the people will die in millions - there will be not much to eat. That is how bad it is really. Yet those talking heads you get on TV sound so bullish and look so smart. Yeah, sure.

This video needed to be on YouTube - as the content is unlikely to be ever shown on Kazakhstani national TV in any other way. More of them, Kazakhstani nationals, need to watch their corrupt, kleptocratic, stone-age feodal Gov challenged, their *supreme leader* Nazarbayev called for what he really is - an autocratic dictator, a tyrant with wealth worth more than $100B, appropriated or stolen from his people. All these unpopular views are unheard of on national/state TV. So let this be posted out here, in the name of freedom of information.

Author — Janek Szczypulla

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I don’t want to see Nazarbayev anymore, but unfortunately there’s no opposition. Only his family members and close friends oligarchs (((

Author — Gaukhar Akhmetova

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Thank you for publishing this video. I'll share this.

Author — Nariman Shuakbayev

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The foreign minister is a spineless week guy

Author — RebelinhoKZ

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disappointed with the interview of our Minister of Foreign affairs. One of the ordinary officials.

Author — Madi Mukash

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I am ashamed of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Author — SuperMoneyBusiness

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Thank you for such true video. I respect this journalist for bravery cuz local journalists will never take a risk for such gesture. I liked how journalist raised in this video pretty sensible questions and problems. FM was nervous and desperate in interview. Keep doing more videos about KZ.

Author — Baurzhan Kozibayev

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Be very very careful before investing in the Astana International Financial Centre. There are much safer and better offshore centres.

Author — Dr Spock

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Mr.Sackur thank you so much for the honest interview with the puppets of the regime...

Author — Can From Fairytale

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I'm assuming this Minister is no longer alive.

Author — J B

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It seems that all of efforts were made to leave without alternatives.

Author — SuperMoneyBusiness

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I think its better to have one responsible president for 100 years instead of changing all the time .I credit Kazakhstan president and I wish we can have someone like him in my country. Every 4 years we change president but nothing has changed In my country the last is always better than the new ...no vision many African countries haven been there for 20 year no development. Kazakhstan president is the best.

Author — Mr Kelz Kelvin

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Евгений Жовтис золотой и справедливый человек. Назарбаев гандон Ибаный диктатор ответить за смерть невинный людей в Жанаозене.

Author — Джон Джон

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Thanks for the good video you still need to show about corruption among the police in Kazakhstan.

Author — NASIR AHMAD

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wtf is this aggressive journalism with obviously predetermined agenda. Reporter is just constantly pushing his curve with interviewees just to support whatever point of view he already had. Well done BBC. This not a report, this is propaganda.

Author — ialt3coffee