ASTANA – Members of the lower chamber of the Parliament (MPs), the Mazhilis, are discussing ways to raise the yearly rent for Russian military test sites in Kazakhstan, reported Deputy Defense Minister Okas Saparov on Feb. 16.
Russia is paying around $24 million per year for four rented military facilities: the Kapustin Yar test firing range, the Sary Shagan and Emba missile testing sites and the 929th State Test Flight Centre.
“I think that price is very low. In theory, it should be no less than the price of the land that Kazakhs use for agriculture. Farmers pay 2,000 tenge (US$5.77) per hectare to rent a plot, while Russia just 424 tenge ($US1.22). How is that possible? After all, in the current crisis, Kazakhstan could be getting tens of billions in profit for this rent,” said Mazhilis Member Kuanysh Aitakhanov, according to Kazakh television station KTK.
According to Aitakhanov’s colleague Murat Bakhtiyaruly, the United States “rents a tiny bit of land in Berlin and it costs them half a billion euros” while the total rent for all American bases in Germany is about three billion.
On top of that, Kazakhstan is planning to claim back some of the Russian leased lands in Sary Shagan in the Karaganda region.
“We mean those territories that we need but are being rented by Russia. These include the railway Zhezkazgan-Beineu and the highway Shymkent-Samara. Besides, we discovered some minerals in the territories of the site in the Karaganda region,” Saparov explained.
All in all, Kazakhstan will lose $2.5 million after the withdrawal of the claimed territories.
Saparov also added that another military training ground Emba will be claimed back as well this year. The site is located in western Kazakhstan.
“We have an agreement with Russia. Our minister of defence has agreed to shut down one more site Emba.”
Earlier, there were reports of discovered oil at Taisoigan site that is being rented by Russia in the Atyrau region. The reports were preceded by claims of full-scale production that would begin right after reclamation of the site from Russia.
Meanwhile, the Russian State Duma approved the waiver of the rental of unused military sites in Kazakhstan. It was reported that Russia will save some $4 million on this deal.