Kazakhstan. On March 1, President Nursultan Nazarbayev
signed a decree requiring foreign investors to be tax-exempt
in whole or in part during the first five years of
operations in Kazakhstan.
A few days later, the president decided on a major
reorganization of the government. Several ministries were
abolished, including the Ministry of Petroleum and Gas.
measure strengthened State Secretary Achmetzhan Jesimov's
power at the expense of then-Prime Minister Akezjan
Kazjegeldins. Jesimov was also appointed head of the newly
formed State Investment Committee, with the task of
supporting direct investment in K.
A new language law entered into force on July 16.
According to this, Kazakh is the official language, while
Russian has equal status in state organizations and in some
schools (colleges and vocational schools).
On August 23, the National Security Committee released
former Prime Minister Akezjan Kazjegeldin from charges of
corruption. It was in November 1996 that Kazjegeldin and
several other government officials of the mayor of Alma-Ata
were accused of illegally transferring government money to
foreign bank accounts.
Despite the acquittal, on October 10, President
Nazarbayev dismissed Prime Minister Kazhegeldin and his
government. Nurlan Balgymbajev, head of the state oil
company, was appointed new head of government. The official
reason for Kazjegeldin's departure was stated to be poor
health. Several of the key figures from the Ministry of
Kazakhstan received important posts in the new government as
In mid-October, it was announced from the presidential
residence that the official move from Alma-Ata to the new
capital Akmola had been postponed until December 10. The
reason was that a monitoring commission had discovered
deficiencies in Akmola that needed to be addressed before