National news in brief

ASTANA – Police officers in Kazakhstan will likely soon be employing a version of the United States’ famous “Miranda warning” to inform suspects of their rights when being arrested. First Deputy Prosecutor General Iogan Merkel told lawmakers on Oct. 31 that a new draft Criminal Procedural Code proposes that law enforcement officers must warn suspects being taken into custody that they are entitled to legal counsel, have the right to remain silent and that anything they say can be used against them in court. Merkel also told Parliament that the new code will allow suspects to mitigate their sentences by making deals with the court based on guilty pleas and their cooperation with investigators. Kazakhstan would become the first Central Asian nation to have such a law on its books if the draft code is approved by lawmakers as expected. The Miranda warning was implemented all over the U.S. after that country’s Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a person who made incriminating statements without having been informed of his rights.

Drivers may be jailed for up to 20 years for fatal road accidents, Chairman of the Committee of the Administrative Police of Kazakhstan’s Internal Affairs Ministry Igor Lepekha said at an Oct. 29 briefing held at the Central Communications Service. “Acts that result in death will be punished by imprisonment for a term from seven to 20 years, with revocation of the right to hold specific posts. Driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated will not be an administrative violation any more, but criminal misconduct,” Lepekha said. Earlier, during the government’s broadened meeting, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan demanded stiffer penalties for those responsible for road accidents. “We need to be stricter. A driver who sat behind the wheel drunk is a criminal. He should be punished to the fullest extent of the law that we have, or it is necessary to strengthen this law,” the President said.

Two more stations of the Almaty subway will be put into operation in 2014, Akim (Mayor) of Almaty Akhmetzhan Yessimov said at a Central Communications Service press conference on Nov. 1. “The subway in Almaty was launched two years ago. The number of passengers is growing every year. Presently, about 24,000 people use it daily. 4.8 million people used the subway over the first nine months of the year. The growth percentage compared to last year is 18 percent,” Yessimov said. “People are used to the subway now. The percentage of people using subway services is growing and we plan to put two more stations into operation next year. Presently, work on connecting the tunnels is underway. I think that next summer we will launch two stations connecting residential districts and the centre of the city,” Yessimov said.

A Nov. 1 report noted that the success of the Seventh Asian Winter Games and the presence of unique sport facilities will allow Almaty to hold international sports competitions. Over the past two years, the city has hosted the World Bandy Championship, the Five Nations Asian Rugby Cup, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) Water Polo World League Super Final, grand prix stages of the World Ski Jumping Cup and world fighting championships. A number of international competitions were held in the city in the past two months. These include a stage of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) Volleyball Grand Prix, a stage of the Ski Jumping World Cup, the World Judo Grand Prix and the World Boxing Championship. In 2017, Almaty will host the Winter Universiade. Several sport facilities will be built in the city specifically for this event, including an ice palace and ice rink as well as a village for athletes. Almaty also recently submitted an application to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. President of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah and President of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge rated the Asian Games held in Almaty highly, saying the city had great potential for hosting the Winter Olympics and expressing their support for it. Almaty already has all the necessary sports facilities to host an Olympic Games. The Olympics have never been held in Central Asia.

On Oct. 29, President Nazarbayev signed a decree on improving the state administration system of Kazakhstan, the Akorda press service reported. The decree mandates that the Ministry of Environment Protection of Kazakhstan be reorganised into the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources of Kazakhstan. The new ministry will take on functions of public water supply and water disposal previously performed by the Ministry of Agriculture. The ministry is also responsible for the rational and complex use of underground waters previously executed by the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies, except for geological exploration of the subsoil for the availability of underground waters. The President’s Administration was charged with executing the decree. The decree comes into effect upon its signature.

Another sectoral meeting of the advisory board “The Dialogue Platform on Human Dimension” on the development of democracy in Kazakhstan took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Astana on Oct. 25 under the chairmanship of Ambassador-at-large Ussen Suleimen. The event included detailed exchange of views on the basis of which representatives of civil society and Kazakh officials prepared and handed over a list of recommendations to the Government and the Parliament on improving electoral legislation and developing local self-government in order to bring them into accordance with Kazakhstan’s international obligations.

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