The Alakol Battle

The Alakol district of the Almaty region is becoming one of Kazakhstan’s accelerated growth areas. Here, around Lake Akakol, they are building a resort area of the national significance. President Nursultan Nazarbayev himself has recently pointed out the importance of this area’s development. As always, the question is — qui bono?

According to the Kazakhstan media, in August, the Akshi village hosted an official opening of the multi-purpose five-star hotel complex Koktem Grand Resorts capable to accommodate up to 30 thousands guests a year.

Here is a quote from an article published by Tengrinews.kz (text in bold by kz.expert).

«Speaking at the opening ceremony, Governor of the Region Amandyk Batalov noted that the authorities of the Almaty region are conducting serious work to carry out the President’s requests on the infrastructural developments on Lake Alakol. The Governor informs that, with the aid of the local budget funds, they have completed the reconstruction of the road between the Akshi village and the Lake Alakol resort areas. 3 bln tenge was spent to reconstruct 23.8 km of the road. The authorities have started the reconstruction of motorways Usharal — Dostyk, Taldykorgan — Usharal.

To make the stay at Lake Alakol comfortable for the visitors, the regional authorities are subsidizing rail service Zhetygen — Dostyk — Zhetygen and air service Astana — Usharal — Astana, Almaty — Usharal — Almaty, Taldykorgan — Usharal — Taldykorgan.

The local authorities have allocated 516.4 mln of the budget funds to complete these tasks. Next year, they plan to conduct the reconstruction of the Usharal airport runway as well as to carry out the shore protection works at Lake Alakol. »All this is to attract even more tourists. If, last year, 700 people visited Alakol, this year, there has been more than a million visitors«, said Batalov congratulating the participants on the new venue opening».

«It stands to mention that, currently, the Alakol district has 213 tourist-accommodating facilities which constitutes 30% of the total number of such facilities in the region (701). By preliminary estimates, in the summer of 2018, the Alakol district has rendered 5.8 bln tenge of the healthcare services (against 3.5 bln tenge for the year 2017) and accommodated more than a million visitors (700 thousand people for the year 2017)».

Note that Nursultan Nazarbayev visited the Alakol district in May 2018 after which he held a special press-briefing where he spoke positively about the work that the Almaty Region Governor is conducting on carrying out the state programs and the President’s requests. He also mentioned the importance of developing the tourist cluster around Lake Alakol.

Akorda’s press-release quotes Nazarbayev’s words (text in bold by kz.expert).

«During the trip, I had visited the tourist cluster at Lake Alakol. I would like to draw the attention of all the Kazakhstan citizens to the fact that we have a wonderful vacation place. It had not been developed before, there was no infrastructure, no hotels. But today, the businesses are actively working in this area. On the shores of Lake Alakol, they have erected a five-star hotel that complies with all the international standards».

«The state has built wonderful road Almaty — Taldykorgan. It will be a transit path through Alakol to East Kazakhstan. The building of the road will help to create many jobs».

Based on our information, Nazarbayev’s interest to the Alakol district or, more precisely, to the tourist area around Lake Alakol has been lobbied by one of his closest relatives that have already invested large sums of money in the tourist cluster and is planning to invest further. This person is obviously keen on having his investments returned.

However, the opportunity to make some serious money have attracted the other influential personas of the region. Therefore, we are likely to have a serious escalation of the elite fighting in the Almaty region, particularly between the Karasay (aka Kaskelen) and the Taldykorgan clans. So, it looks like we are soon to expect an upsurge of exposing and damaging publications in the press and especially on social media as well as opening criminal investigations against those officials and entrepreneurs who have dared to cross the line.


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