Domestic News in Brief

President Nursultan Nazarbayev issued a decree on March 23 for the convocation of the 20th Session of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan in Astana. The session is scheduled to meet on April 24. The session will be on the theme of “Kazakhstan – 2050: one nation – one country – one destiny.” The government will organize the event.

Kazakhstan National Railways (KTZ) has awarded Systra a contract to design and construct a 1,011 km (600 mile) high speed railway service between Almaty and Astana. The proposed 1520 mm gauge single-track line will carry trains up to 250 km per hour (150 miles per hour). A 10 km (six mile) bridge across Lake Balkhash will cut 300 kilometres (180 miles) off the current route between Kazakhstan’s capital and its main commercial city.

On March 21, President Nursultan Nazarbayev has signed amendments into law to allow the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to operate in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries of Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan and also has signed amendments to allow the Use of Special Funds in Recipient Countries and Potential Recipient Countries. Kazakhstan is a member of the EBRD and has to approve its operations along with dozens of other countries. It is also one of the largest recipients of aid and loans to the Bank. Since the establishment of the bank more than $15 billion were invested in the country, including free technical assistance in excess of $79 million. Today about 85 projects are implemented with a total borrowing of over $2.5 billion.

On March 21, President Nursultan Nazarbayev has signed a new law to confirm the charter of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)”. Minister of Industry and New Technologies Asset Issekeshev said Kazakhstan would get more help from IRENA “to obtain grants for international development, research renewable energy potential, and access expertise to reduce harmful effects on the environment.” IRENA helps countries develop their renewable energy resources.

The Baikonur Cosmodrome may become a centre of EXPO 2017 activities. The space port has been already visited by delegations that have evaluated its use and assessed the costs of expanding its infrastructure up to international exhibition level.

Kazakhstan will have around 100 universities remaining in the nearest two years. “The experience shows that the majority of the commercial universities are unable to provide education of the required quality. That’s why we plan to slash their number from 66 to 30 in the nearest three years. In the end, the total number of the universities (commercial and public) will make 100 in two years,” Minister of Education and Science Bakytzhan Zhumagulov said at the government meeting on March 26. He noted that all students of the merged universities should be able to continue their studies. According to Zhumagulov, “this is a strict requirement”. According to the Minister, the number of universities has already been slashed from 149 to 136 in the course of their consolidation.

An international space seminar is planned for Astana on April 10-11 2013: “Space Days in Kazakhstan”. The seminar, which is taking place on the eve of the anniversary of the first manned space flight by Yury Gagarin on April 12 1961, will also herald the launch later this year of Kazakhstan’s first remote sensing satellite. The launch of a second such satellite from Kazakhstan is planned for 2014.

The painting “Chinese Girl” by Kazakhstan-born painter Vladimir Tretchikov was sold at auction in London on March 20 for almost a million pounds ($1.52 million). Tretchikov made the painting in 1952 and died in 2006 in Cape Town, South Africa.