has a population of 18.28 million (2018). Kazakhstan became President of the OSCE at the New Year,
the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The
role of Kazakhstan was questioned in many Member States
because of the lack of democracy and the suppression of
human rights. President Nursultan Nazarbayev, on the other
hand, described the presidency as a recognition of
Kazakhstan's international authority.
The Presidency of the OSCE may have had an impact on a
verdict in February, when a ban on media criticism by
President Nazarbayev's son-in-law was lifted. The ban had
been severely criticized by the OSCE. The son-in-law Timur
Kulibayev is one of Kazakhstan's most powerful businessmen
and is mentioned as a possible successor to Nazarbayev.
After the bloody fighting in southern Kyrgyzstan in the
spring, the deposed Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakijev fled
to Kazakhstan but then traveled to Belarus.
The uprising in Kyrgyzstan led the Kazakh president to
strengthen his power. In May, Parliament decided to grant
Nazarbayev greater powers and, moreover, immunity from
prosecution for both himself and his family. He also got a
new title, Elbasy (country father). In addition, it became
illegal to distort images of the president.
Nazarbayev, who according to the Constitution can
candidate as many times as possible, announced in the fall
that he plans to run in the 2012 presidential election and
intends to stay until at least 2020.
After severe drought, this year's cereal harvest was
about one-third less than normal. Kazakhstan is one of the
world's largest grain producers, and the mist growth helped
raise world market prices for cereals, flour and bread.
When President Nazarbayev turned 70 in July, the world's
largest tent was erected in the capital, Astana, at a cost
of more than SEK 1 billion. The tent, or the steel and
plastic building, reached 150 m in height, and on the ground
there was a business gallery and adventure palace.
At the end of the year, Kazakhstan entered into a new
customs union with the Russian Federation, but Belarus,
which would also have been involved, chose to stay outside.
In December, President Nazarbayev hosted the OSCE Summit,
held in Kazakhstan's capital Astana. Some countries, such as
Sweden and the United States, questioned Kazakhstan's role
as OSCE chairman and did not allow themselves to be
represented by the heads of government.