On the New “Land Amendments”

The Kazakhstan authorities, it seems, are so frightened by the land protests that, once again, they are going to de-facto violate the Constitution.

To prove this, we will quote the press-release published on the Mazhilis website on November 29, 2017 called “N. Nigmatulin: Favorable Legal Conditions to Modernize Different Sectors of the Economy are Being Created in Kazakhstan” (bolding ours – Kazakhstan 2.0).

“Today, at the plenary session, the Mazhilis has approved, in the first reading, the legal amendments to the land matters regulation. In particular, they have established the detailed requirements on renting farming lands on competition basis. The areas of the castle ranges around populated localities necessary to sustain personal farm holdings have been outlined. The need of the population in having castle ranges is deemed state matters. The moratorium on renting farming lands to joint ventures with shares belonging to foreign individuals or foreign legal bodies is extended. Now any percent of foreign participation in the capital will lead to the impossibility of receiving the property rights. There is also a complete prohibition of using the lands located in the vicinity of the state borders for farming purposes. The land properties located near the state borders cannot be owned by foreign nationals, persons without citizenship, the Kazakhstan citizens married to foreign nationals or persons without citizenship, foreign legal bodies and the legal bodies with foreign contributors. The tenders (competitions, auctions) on selling farming lands or rental rights are to be held in the digital form only. To support internal migrants, providing land properties to migrants in the regions determined by the government for the purpose of building objects within the boundaries of populated localities, with exception of cities of the regional subordinance, is to be conducted without tender. The suggested amendments have been approved by the government opinion”.

By our estimate, the nature of the said amendments shows that Akorda is trying to solve a part of the existing land problems in the agricultural areas which one can only applaud. On the other hand, however, it will inevitably form an artificial obstacle on the way of the market relationships development in the agricultural complex. Since foreign investors will be seriously limited in their possibilities and will not be able, either directly or through Kazakhstan legal bodies, to rent farming lands, they will have to either buy them out which demands additional investments and is rather risky since there is no land market in Kazakhstan or to withdraw from all, even most interesting, projects.

The reasons why Akorda chose to toughen the land legislature cannot be of the economic nature since the country is highly interested in agricultural investments, first and foremost the foreign ones. This means that the authorities are driven by the political motives, in particular, by the fear of the new land protests.

However, the moratorium on giving farming lands to foreign individuals and legal bodies with foreign contributors is not a critical problem since the limitations can, in due course, be lifted or alleviated. As for Akorda’s attempt to de-facto divide the Kazakhstanis into “genuine” and “not genuine” ones, it seems quite dangerous. The said amendments restrict the rights of the Kazakhstan citizens married to foreign nationals or to individuals without citizenship.

Therefore, if the Parliament signs the legislature earlier approved by the government, it will violate the Constitution, namely, Article 14: “All are equal before the law and the court. No one can be discriminated against based on their origin, social, official, material status, gender, race, nationality, language, religion, opinions, place of residence, or any other circumstance”.


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