Kazakhstan

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Overview

The area now known as Kazakhstan was originally settled by nomadic tribes in the 1st century BC, forming various nations according to family structures. The country became part of the Mongol Empire during the 13th century and became an important stop along the Great Silk Road. Kazakhstan developed a common language and culture in the 15th century and cultivated an agriculture-based economy. In the 18th century, Russia came to control Kazakhstan, partially through protection treaties and partially through military action. Eventually, though, the Kazakh people grew tired of colonial rule and briefly earned their independence as the Russian Empire fell. This independence was short lived, and Kazakhstan became part of the Soviet Union in the 1920s. Forced collectivization brought about starvation and hardship, forcing many Kazakhs to leave the country for Western China and other areas. As change occurred in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, Kazakhstan declared it independence in December 1991. Today, Kazakhstan is poised to become a powerful international trader on the basis of its rich oil reserves, along with other natural resources.

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Kazakhstan extends from the Caspian Sea to the Altay Mountains and from the plains of Western Siberia to the oasis and desert of Central Asia. The country has cold winters, hot summers, and an arid climate. Kazakhstan shares borders with Uzbekistan, Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan.

 
Population: 15.3 million
 
Religions: Sunni Muslim 49.8%, Christian (Protestant, Russian Orthodox, Catholic) 14.1%, Buddhist 0.1%, non-religious 35.7%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Kazakh 53.4%, Russian 30%, Ukrainian 3.7%, Uzbek 2.5%, German 2.4%, Tatar 1.7%, Uyghur 1.4%, other 4.9%.
 
Languages: Kazakh (official) 35.0%, German 6.3%, Uyghur 2.0%, Russian (official), Sinte Romani, Plautdietsch (low german), Ili Turki, Dungan.
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History

Kazakhstan was originally settled by nomadic tribes in the 1st century BC, though the land itself has been occupied since the Stone Age. From the 4th century through the 13th century, these nomadic tribes formed various nations that ruled Kazakhstan in succession.

 
In the early 13th century, Mongolians invaded the country and under the Mongol Empire, various administrative districts were established. These eventually became the territories of the Kazakh Khanate. Two of Kazakhstan’s largest medieval cities, Taraz and Turkestan, were founded during this time along the great Silk Road. 
 
Nomadic life on the steppe and semi-desert lands involved raising livestock and searching for green pastures on which to graze them. From these tribes came the Kazakhs in the 15th century. By the 16th century, the group had developed a common language, culture and economy. 
 
Then, in the early 1600s, the Kazakh Khanate was divided into the Great, Middle and Little (or Small) Hordes. These were based on extended family networks, many of which carried feuds forward. This competition, along with the lack of an internal market, weakened the Kazakh Khanate. The Khanate did survive this time and reached its zenith in the 18th century. 
 
Tsarist Russia gradually colonized the Kazakh-controlled territories over the next 150 years. The Little Horde, and part of the Middle Horde, signed protection treaties with Russia in the 1730s and 1740s, and much of the remaining territories were incorporated into the Russian Empire by 1840. Russia seized some of these territories belonging to the Great Horde in the 1860s, paving the way for the tsars to rule over Kazakhstan.
 
Russia competed with Great Britain for control of Central Asia during the 1800s. But its  efforts to build military installations and administer the government of Kazakhstan resulted in the resentment of the Kazakh people. By the 1860s, most Kazakhs resisted Russia’s annexation because of disruption to their traditional nomadic way of life and livestock-based economy.
 
In the late 1800s, a national movement began to preserve the Kazakh language and entity. There were several uprisings against the colonial rule of Russia, with the most serious happening in 1916. At the same time, the nomadic culture spread throughout the area, with some tribes settling in western China. 
 
When the Russian Empire collapsed, Kazakhstan enjoyed a brief period of independence. But by 1920, the country gave in once again to Russian rule, becoming a Soviet republic in 1936.
 
Soviet rule fostered repression and forced collectivization, which brought about mass hunger and starvation. Civil unrest followed, but Kazakhstan became fully integrated into the Soviet Union under Communism. As thousands were exiled from others parts of the Soviet Union in the 1930s, many flowed into Kazakhstan. Later, the country also became home for thousands of those evacuated from World War II battlefields.
 
During World War II, the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) contributed five divisions to Russia’s military efforts. Industrialization and increased mineral extraction also supported the fighting. But at the time of Josef Stalin’s death in 1953, Kazakhstan was still largely agricultural in its economy. That same year, Nikita Khrushchev began the “Virgin Lands” program to turn the traditional pasturelands of Kazakhstan into a major grain-producing region for the Soviet Union. This, along with other modernizations launched by leader Leonid Brezhnev, helped to rapidly develop the agricultural sector. To this day, agriculture remains the largest source of income for Kazakhstan’s people.
 
As tensions within the Soviet Union led to demands for political and economic reforms, Kazakhs became increasingly involved in Soviet politics. In December 1986, mass demonstrations took place in Almaty to protest Russia’s installment of a non-Kazakhstani First Secretary as leader. Soviet troops suppressed the unrest, jailing many and furthering discontent. 
 
Under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost, Kazakhstan declared its sovereignty as a republic within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in October 1990. Following the August 1991 abortive coup attempt in Moscow and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan declared independence on December 16, 1991. Shortly thereafter, the Kazakh government encouraged the return of ethnic Kazakhs from other areas by offering subsidies for returnees.
In the years since Kazakhstan declared its independence, the country has endured many reforms to its political and economic systems. Under Nursultan Nazarbayev, who initially came to power in 1989 as the head of the Kazakh Communist Party and was eventually elected president in 1991, Kazakhstan has made progress toward developing a market economy, for which it was recognized by the United States in 2002. The country has also enjoyed significant economic growth since 2000, partly due to its large oil, gas, and mineral reserves.
 
A Country Study: Kazakhstan (Library of Congress)
 
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History of U.S. Relations with Kazakhstan

Noted Kazakh-Americans

Aigul Buyuk: Nurse known for helping others in times of need during and after WWI. She also saved two boys’ lives at a Fourth of July parade disguised as a man.
Timur Bekbosunov: Vocal operatic performer who debuted at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2007. He has now began collaborating on the large-scale project The Silent Steppe Cantata, which is about Kazakhstan. His 2010 plans include appearing in the ALOUD series.
 
The United States was the first country to recognize Kazakhstan, on December 25, 1991, after it declared its independence from Russia. 
 
The two countries have long collaborated on issues of security and non-proliferation. Kazakhstan signed the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (1992), the START Treaty (1992), and the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1993). Kazakhstan completely renounced nuclear weapons in 1993, and the US has since assisted Kazakhstan in the removal of nuclear warheads and weapons-grade materials. In 1994, Kazakhstan transferred more than a half-ton of its weapons-grade uranium to the United States, and in 1995, it removed the country’s last warheads.
 
Since 1993, American companies have invested about $14.3 billion in Kazakhstan, mostly in oil and gas, business services, telecommunications and electrical energy sectors. A US-Kazakhstan Bilateral Investment Treaty and a Treaty on the Avoidance of Dual Taxation have been in place since 1994 and 1996, respectively.
 
Between 1992 and 2005, the United States provided roughly $1.205 billion in technical assistance and investment support  to programs in Kazakhstan. These programs were designed to promote market reform, establish a foundation for an open and democratic society, and address security issues.
 
Since 1993, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has administered technical assistance programs to support Kazakhstan’s transition to a market economy, funding programs in privatization, fiscal and financial policy, commercial law, energy, health care and environmental protection.
 
To address the water management problem of the Syr Darya River, Kazakhstan and other basin states, with technical assistance from USAID/Central Asia, established the 1998 Framework Agreement on the Use of Water and Energy Resources of the Syr Darya Basin. Kazakhstan also became a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1999 and, with US assistance, completed the sealing of 181 nuclear test tunnels in May 2000.
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Current U.S. Relations with Kazakhstan

The United States opened its Embassy in Almaty in January 1992. Relations between the two countries are cooperative and bilateral. The US Embassy moved to Astana in 2006.

 
The two countriessigned the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (2001). Under the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, the United States has spent $240 million to assist Kazakhstan in eliminating weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and WMD-related infrastructure.
 
Also in 2001, Kazakhstan and the United States established the US-Kazakhstan Energy Partnership. Since the advent of the war on terror, the US has assisted Kazakhstan to combat illegal narcotics, improve border security, and, more recently combat money laundering and trafficking in persons.
 
The United States and the European Union worked together with the Ministry of Environmental Protection to establish an independent, nonprofit, and nonpolitical Regional Environmental Center (REC) in Almaty in 2001, focused around strengthening civil society and supporting public awareness in the countries of Central Asia. In 2002, the US Environmental Protection Agency, US Embassy, and Ministry of Environmental Protection signed a memorandum of understanding to provide the REC with funding for its grants program.
 
Kazakhstan’s military participates in the US’s International Military Education and Training program, Foreign Military Financing, as well as NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. In 2005, US Central Command conducted approximately 45 bilateral “military cooperation events” with the Ministry of Defense of Kazakhstan and other agencies, an increase of more than 100% since 2002.
 
In 2006, Kazakhstan became the first country to share directly in the cost of a US government’s foreign assistance program. Through 2009, Kazakhstan will contribute over $15 million to a $40 million USAID economic development project aimed at strengthening Kazakhstan’s capacity to achieve its development goals.
 
The Peace Corps has about 140 volunteers working throughout Kazakhstan in business education, English teaching, and the development of environmental non-governmental organizations.
 
The United States supports increased citizen participation in the public arena through support for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Dozens of grants have been provided to support NGOs that promote an independent media, legal reform, women’s rights, civic education, and legislative oversight. USAID also has provided training courses for leaders and professionals.
 
In 2005, 25,346 Americans visited Kazakhstan. This represents a significant increase from 2002-2004, when the number of tourists remained close to 20,000.
 
In 2006, 5,629 Kazakhs visited the US. Tourism to the US began growing substantially after a stagnant period from 2002-2004, when the number of Kazakhs traveling to America was under  4,000.
 
USAID has provided for programs that have aided Kazakhstan in transitioning to become a market economy, and the US Commercial Services provides internships for Kazakhs with US companies, setting up a matchmaker program. The US further supports NGOs coming into the country to assist with legal reform, women’s rights, civic education, and legislative issues. Furthermore, Kazakhstan’s military is a part of the US International Military Education and Training program, Foreign Military Financing, and NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.
 
US, Kazakh Relations (Voice of America)
Kazakhstan’s Presidential Elections (Council on Foreign Relations)
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Where Does the Money Flow

Total US exports to Kazakhstan in 2009 equaled $599.5 million. The largest U.S. export category to Kazakhstan in 2009 was agricultural equipment, which totaled $118.2 million.

 
US exports on the rise included drilling and oilfield equipment, increasing from $31 million to $72.9 million; agricultural machinery equipment, moving up from $4 million to $143.4 million; passenger cars (new and used), increasing from $2.1 million to $114 million; and industrial engines, up from $4.4 million to $22 million.
 
US exports to Kazakhstan on the decline includedrailway transportation equipment, which decreased from $110.7 million to $51.7 million; meat and poultry, down from $16.4 million to $10.7 million; tobacco (unmanufactured), falling from $13.6 million to $9.2 million; finished metal shapes, decreasing from $12.5 million to $6.4 million, and telecommunications equipment, down from $48 million to $34.7 million.
 
U.S. Imports from Kazakhstan were valued at $1.5 billion, resulting in a trade deficit in 2009 of $946.3 million. More than $1 billion of these imports came in the form of fuel and crude oil ($489.7 million and $521.2 million). In 2009, the U.S. also imported $266.1 million worth of uranium. Kazaknstan has 15% of the world’s uranium reserves.
 
The 2010 Congressional foreign aid budget for Kazakhstan is down to $17.3 million in 2010 from $19.3 million in 2009. The largest portion comes from the Assistance for Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia account, and goes primarily towards peace and security ($6.85 million) and stabilization operations and security sector reforms ($3.5 million). According to the State Department, a major priority is developing Kazakhstan’s Huey II helicopter fleet.
 
Kazakhstan (USAID)
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Controversies

Kazakhs Threaten to Sue British Comedian for Portrayal in Borat

In 2006, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen appeared as Borat, a boorish Kazakh journalist. The film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, raised controversy among many Kazakhs, who considered the portrayal racist and insulting. However, Deputy Foreign Minister Rakhat Aliyev urged Cohen to visit the country, so he could see for himself. “He can discover a lot of things. Women drive cars, wine is made of grapes and Jews are free to go to synagogues,” said the minister. Among some of the assertions made by Borat are that Kazakhs are addicted to horse urine, fond of shooting dogs, and viewing incest as a respectable tradition. When the film opened, the Foreign Ministry ran ads on CNN, in The New York Times, and in the International Herald Tribune citing facts and figures on the nation’s economic growth, civil liberties and cultural achievements. Despite the controversy around the movie and character, Borat has gone on to become a top DVD in Kazakhstan.
Borat Invited To Kazakhstan (Associated Press)
 
ChevronTexaco Subpoenaed on Kazakhstan Bribery Charges
In September 2003, ChevronTexaco was subpoenaed by the US Justice Department, which was investigating charges of bribery in Kazakhstan’s oil industry. James Giffen, a US investment banker, was indicted earlier that year on bribery charges from Mobil Oil Corp. to senior Kazakhstan’s government officials, including President Nursultan Nazarbayev and oil minister Nurlan Balgimbaev. Giffen had previously served as the middleman between American and Soviet businesses. After the Soviet collapse, he became Kazakhstan’s leader’s oil advisor. His bribery case has become the biggest US foreign bribery case since the Foreign Corrupt Practices Law was passed in 1977.
 
ExxonMobil denied any payments had occurred. ChevonTexaco also denied any wrongdoing Giffen claimed that while he was working with Nazarbayev he was also working with the CIA, and says he requires access to confidential documents. In April 2009 Judge Pauley ruled against Gifffen.  The Kazakh venture was expected to produce 430,000 to 500,000 barrels of oil per day, and the case is now being referred to as Kazakhgate.  
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Human Rights

According to the State Department, Kazakhstan demonstrated the following human rights problems: “severe limits on citizens’ rights to change their government; military hazing that led to deaths; detainee and prisoner abuse; unhealthy prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; lack of an independent judiciary; restrictions on freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and association; pervasive corruption, especially in law enforcement and the judicial system; prohibitive political party registration requirements; restrictions on the activities of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); discrimination and violence against women; trafficking in persons; and societal discrimination”.

 
The 2009 US Department of State report found that abuse was common in prisons, and military hazing have lead to deaths, suicides, and serious injuries.
 
Police and prison officials at times beat and abused detainees, often to obtain confessions. The procurator general’s office (PGO) and the human rights ombudsman acknowledged that torture and other illegal methods of investigation were still used by some law enforcement officers.
 
A few army personnel continuedto subject conscripts to physical and verbal abuse.  On May 10, 2008, police beat Valery Issayev, who died the next day from injuries. The supervising officer at the time was later sentenced to seven years in prison. Military hazing has also been on the rise, up to 115 incidences in 2008 (which is up from 97 in 2007). As a result of these hazing, three people died and seven commited suicide.
 
Prison conditions remain harsh and facilities do not meet international health standards, although the government began renovating three prisons and two detention facilities during the year as part of a penitentiary development program. Mistreatment occurs in police cells, pretrial detention facilities, and prisons. Incidents of self-mutilation by inmates to protest prison conditions continue.
 
The government reported 167 cases of military hazing and power abuse in 2009, compared in 146 in 2008. Between April 13 and 16, 30 inmates from a prison in Northern Kazakhstan committed self-mutilation to protest poor prison conditions.
 
In October 2009 Inessa Karkhu, a prisoner, was cited by Amnesty International as not receiving essential medicine for glaucoma, which damages sight over time. Karkhu is serving an eight-year sentence for fraud, and could lose her sight if she doesn’t receive the medicine.
 
Corruption is widespread, including in the executive branch,various law enforcement agencies, local government administrations, the education system, and the judiciary. Corruption is evident at every stage of the judicial process. Although judges are among the most highly paid government employees, lawyers and human rights monitors alleged that judges, procurators, and other officials solicited bribes in exchange for favorable rulings in the majority of criminal cases.
 
Government opponents and their family members continue to report that the government monitored occasionally their movements and telephone calls.
 
Media and human rights activists continue to report cases of citizens being pressured or forced to leave their homes without due process, often in connection with planned new developments
 
The government uses a variety of means, including laws, harassment, licensing regulations, Internet restrictions, and criminal and administrative charges to control the media and limit freedom of expression. Judicial actions against journalists and media outlets, including civil and criminal libel suits filed by government officials, contributed to suspension of media outlets and self-censorship. Harassment of and violence against journalists remain problems.
 
There are no formal government restrictions on access to the Internet, but observers reported that the government monitorse-mail and Internet activity, blocking or slowing access to opposition websites, and plantingprogovernment propaganda in Internet chat rooms.
 
The law provides for limited freedom of assembly; there are significant restrictions on this right in practice, and police used force to disrupt peaceful demonstrations. The law defines unsanctioned gatherings, public meetings, marches, demonstrations, illegal picketing, and strikes that upset social and political stability as national security threats.
 
The law provides for limited freedom of association; however, there are significant restrictions on this right in practice. Participation in unregistered public organizations may result in administrative or criminal liability, such as fines, dissolution, probation, or imprisonment.
 
Violence against women, trafficking in persons, and discrimination against persons with disabilities, homosexuals, and non-ethnic Kazakhs in government are also problems.
 
Violence against women, including domestic violence, is a problem. There is no specific domestic violence law, but it can be addressed under assault and battery provisions of the criminal code. Trafficking in women remains a problem.
 
Human rights groups publicly drew attention to the problem of discrimination against women. According to observers, women in rural areas face greater discrimination than women in urban areas, and suffer from a greater incidence of domestic violence, limited education and employment opportunities, limited access to information, and discrimination in their land and property rights.
 
Most workers arenot able to join or form trade unions of their choice. The government exercises considerable influence over organized labor and favorsstate-affiliated unions over independent unions.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Note: The United States recognized Kazakhstan, Dec 26, 1991. Embassy Alma-Ata (now Almaty) was established Feb 3, 1992, with Courtney as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.

 
William Harrison Courtney
Appointment: Aug 11, 1992
Presentation of Credentials: Sept 15, 1992
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 1, 1995
 
A. Elizabeth Jones
Appointment: Oct 3, 1995
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 18, 1995
Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 12, 1998
 
Richard Henry Jones
Appointment: Oct 22, 1998
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 23, 1999
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 10, 2001
 
Larry C. Napper
Appointment: Aug 3, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 19, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 7 2004
 
John M. Ordway
Appointment: May 12, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 17, 2004
Termination of Mission: 2008
 
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Kazakhstan's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Umarov, Kairat

The central Asian nation of Kazakhstan—the largest of the former soviet republics that gained independence during the dissolution of the old Soviet Union—sent a new ambassador to the U.S. at the beginning of 2013. Kairat Umarov, now serving his third stint in Washington, D.C., presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on January 14, succeeding ambassador Erlan A. Idrissov, who had served since July 4, 2007.

 

Born January 12, 1963, in Fergana, Uzbekistan, Kairat Yermekovich Umarov earned his undergraduate degree at the Almaty Pedagogical Institute of Foreign Languages in 1985, teaching there as well from 1987 to 1988, and a Ph.D. in History at the Kazakh University of History, Archeology and Ethnography in 1989. He was chief editor of the Writers’ Union of Kazakhstan from 1989 to 1991. 

 

After Kazakhstan declared its independence in 1991, Umarov left the academic orbit for public service in the nation’s newly founded Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 1992 to 1994, he served as second secretary, first secretary, and head of section at the Ministry headquarters in the capital city of Almaty.

 

Umarov’s first foreign posting was to the U.S., as he served as first secretary and counselor at the Kazakh Embassy in Washington, from 1994 to 1996. Back in Almaty, Umarov served as deputy director of the Ministry's European States Department from 1996 to 1997, and as  eputy director of its Third Department from 1997 to 1998.

 

Umarov returned for his second American stint to serve as minister-counselor at the embassy from 1998 to 2003. In 2004, he served as ambassador-at-large and chief inspector of the Foreign Policy Center of the Administration of the President of Kazakhstan.

 

Later in 2004, Umarov received his first ambassadorship, serving as ambassador to India at the Kazakh embassy in New Delhi from 2004 to 2009, concurrently accredited to Sri Lanka from 2008 to 2009. He then served as deputy foreign minister of Kazakhstan from 2009 to January 2013. 

 

Umarov, speaks Kazakh, Russian, English and French. He and his wife, Galiya, have one son.

 

Official Biography

Speech at the Forum “The April 26 Almaty ‘Istanbul Process’ Meeting: Toward Clarity on Post-2014 Afghanistan?” (by Kairat Umarov)

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Kazakhstan's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan

Krol, George
ambassador-image

 

George A. Krol was nominated by President Barack Obama to be ambassador to Kazakhstan on May 1, 2014. If confirmed by the Senate, it will be the third ambassadorial post for the career Foreign Service officer.

 

Krol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1956, and raised in Manchester Township, New Jersey, the youngest of three sons of Mr. and Mrs. Anthony J. Krol. He attended St. Peter’s Preparatory School in Jersey City, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in History, magna cum laude, at Harvard University. At Oxford University in England he received both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

 

Krol taught at the National War College, and joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1982, taking assignments for the State Department in India, Poland and the Ukraine. In 1991, he was the U.S. consul in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). From 1993 to 1995, he served as deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires in Minsk, Belarus. Between 1995 and 1997, he was special assistant to the Ambassador-at-Large for the New Independent States, and from 1997 to 1999 he served as director of the Office of Russian Affairs—both positions based in Washington, D.C.

 

In 1999, Krol was named minister-counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia, a post he held through 2002. The following year he was appointed U.S. ambassador to Belarus, a position he held through 2006.

 

In April 2007, President George W. Bush announced his intention to nominate Krol to be the U.S. ambassador to Turkmenistan, but he was never confirmed, although the reasons are unclear. Krol subsequently served as deputy assistantsSecretary for South and Central Asian Affairs. Among his responsibilities was engaging in direct consultation with Uzbek government officials.

Krol was nominated to be ambassador to Uzbekistan in July 2010 and assumed the post about a year later. While there, he has taken criticism from human rights groups in the country for deferring to the regime of Islam Karimov, under which there are frequent rights violations, including forced labor of its citizens, and little freedom of expression. However, Uzbekistan has been a vital part of the U.S. supply train to American forces in Afghanistan.

 

Krol is married to Melissa Welch.

                                                                                    -Danny Biederman, Steve Straehley

 

Official Biography

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan

Fairfax, Kenneth
ambassador-image

Experienced in both nuclear and economic issues, Kenneth J. Fairfax was finally approved by the United States Senate to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan. The former Soviet republic has been a focus of ongoing efforts to safeguard nuclear materials once owned by the Soviet military, which had key bases in Kazakhstan. Nominated by President Barack Obama on March 29, 2011, Fairfax was sworn in on September 15. 

 
A Kentucky native, Fairfax graduated from Xavier High School in Louisville in 1977, and earned a B.A. in Government from Oberlin College in 1981. He worked as an urban economist with a private consulting firm in San Francisco, California, and was the president of a small technology company in nearby Silicon Valley.
 
Fairfax left the private sector in 1987 to join the Foreign Service, beginning his career that year as an Economics and Commercial Officer at the embassy in Muscat, Oman. In 1990, he was assigned to South Korea, where he was Vice Consul at the consulate in Pusan, and then Consul at the embassy in Seoul. While working as Environment Science and Technology Officer at the embassy in Moscow, Russia, from 1993 to 1995, Fairfax specialized in nuclear issues, and is credited with writing several key cables that prompted Washington policymakers to take steps to ensure the safe storage and disposal of nuclear materials recovered from dismantled nuclear weapons. Back in Washington he served as director of nuclear materials security at the National Security Council.
 
Fairfax’s next assignment was as Deputy Consul General in Vancouver, Canada, from 1997 to 2000. Returning to the former Soviet Union, Fairfax was Counselor for Economic Affairs at the embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, from 2000 to 2002. He returned to consular work, serving as Principal Officer and Consul General at the Consulate General in Krakow, Poland, from 2003 to 2006, and at the Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, from July 2007 to 2010. His last overseas assignment was as Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs at the embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, from 2010 to 2011.
 
Fairfax and his wife, Nyetta Yarkin, have been married since about 1986 and have two children. 
 
The Loose Nukes Cable that Shook Washington (by David Hoffman, Foreign Policy)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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News
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Overview

The area now known as Kazakhstan was originally settled by nomadic tribes in the 1st century BC, forming various nations according to family structures. The country became part of the Mongol Empire during the 13th century and became an important stop along the Great Silk Road. Kazakhstan developed a common language and culture in the 15th century and cultivated an agriculture-based economy. In the 18th century, Russia came to control Kazakhstan, partially through protection treaties and partially through military action. Eventually, though, the Kazakh people grew tired of colonial rule and briefly earned their independence as the Russian Empire fell. This independence was short lived, and Kazakhstan became part of the Soviet Union in the 1920s. Forced collectivization brought about starvation and hardship, forcing many Kazakhs to leave the country for Western China and other areas. As change occurred in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, Kazakhstan declared it independence in December 1991. Today, Kazakhstan is poised to become a powerful international trader on the basis of its rich oil reserves, along with other natural resources.

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Kazakhstan extends from the Caspian Sea to the Altay Mountains and from the plains of Western Siberia to the oasis and desert of Central Asia. The country has cold winters, hot summers, and an arid climate. Kazakhstan shares borders with Uzbekistan, Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan.

 
Population: 15.3 million
 
Religions: Sunni Muslim 49.8%, Christian (Protestant, Russian Orthodox, Catholic) 14.1%, Buddhist 0.1%, non-religious 35.7%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Kazakh 53.4%, Russian 30%, Ukrainian 3.7%, Uzbek 2.5%, German 2.4%, Tatar 1.7%, Uyghur 1.4%, other 4.9%.
 
Languages: Kazakh (official) 35.0%, German 6.3%, Uyghur 2.0%, Russian (official), Sinte Romani, Plautdietsch (low german), Ili Turki, Dungan.
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History

Kazakhstan was originally settled by nomadic tribes in the 1st century BC, though the land itself has been occupied since the Stone Age. From the 4th century through the 13th century, these nomadic tribes formed various nations that ruled Kazakhstan in succession.

 
In the early 13th century, Mongolians invaded the country and under the Mongol Empire, various administrative districts were established. These eventually became the territories of the Kazakh Khanate. Two of Kazakhstan’s largest medieval cities, Taraz and Turkestan, were founded during this time along the great Silk Road. 
 
Nomadic life on the steppe and semi-desert lands involved raising livestock and searching for green pastures on which to graze them. From these tribes came the Kazakhs in the 15th century. By the 16th century, the group had developed a common language, culture and economy. 
 
Then, in the early 1600s, the Kazakh Khanate was divided into the Great, Middle and Little (or Small) Hordes. These were based on extended family networks, many of which carried feuds forward. This competition, along with the lack of an internal market, weakened the Kazakh Khanate. The Khanate did survive this time and reached its zenith in the 18th century. 
 
Tsarist Russia gradually colonized the Kazakh-controlled territories over the next 150 years. The Little Horde, and part of the Middle Horde, signed protection treaties with Russia in the 1730s and 1740s, and much of the remaining territories were incorporated into the Russian Empire by 1840. Russia seized some of these territories belonging to the Great Horde in the 1860s, paving the way for the tsars to rule over Kazakhstan.
 
Russia competed with Great Britain for control of Central Asia during the 1800s. But its  efforts to build military installations and administer the government of Kazakhstan resulted in the resentment of the Kazakh people. By the 1860s, most Kazakhs resisted Russia’s annexation because of disruption to their traditional nomadic way of life and livestock-based economy.
 
In the late 1800s, a national movement began to preserve the Kazakh language and entity. There were several uprisings against the colonial rule of Russia, with the most serious happening in 1916. At the same time, the nomadic culture spread throughout the area, with some tribes settling in western China. 
 
When the Russian Empire collapsed, Kazakhstan enjoyed a brief period of independence. But by 1920, the country gave in once again to Russian rule, becoming a Soviet republic in 1936.
 
Soviet rule fostered repression and forced collectivization, which brought about mass hunger and starvation. Civil unrest followed, but Kazakhstan became fully integrated into the Soviet Union under Communism. As thousands were exiled from others parts of the Soviet Union in the 1930s, many flowed into Kazakhstan. Later, the country also became home for thousands of those evacuated from World War II battlefields.
 
During World War II, the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) contributed five divisions to Russia’s military efforts. Industrialization and increased mineral extraction also supported the fighting. But at the time of Josef Stalin’s death in 1953, Kazakhstan was still largely agricultural in its economy. That same year, Nikita Khrushchev began the “Virgin Lands” program to turn the traditional pasturelands of Kazakhstan into a major grain-producing region for the Soviet Union. This, along with other modernizations launched by leader Leonid Brezhnev, helped to rapidly develop the agricultural sector. To this day, agriculture remains the largest source of income for Kazakhstan’s people.
 
As tensions within the Soviet Union led to demands for political and economic reforms, Kazakhs became increasingly involved in Soviet politics. In December 1986, mass demonstrations took place in Almaty to protest Russia’s installment of a non-Kazakhstani First Secretary as leader. Soviet troops suppressed the unrest, jailing many and furthering discontent. 
 
Under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost, Kazakhstan declared its sovereignty as a republic within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in October 1990. Following the August 1991 abortive coup attempt in Moscow and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan declared independence on December 16, 1991. Shortly thereafter, the Kazakh government encouraged the return of ethnic Kazakhs from other areas by offering subsidies for returnees.
In the years since Kazakhstan declared its independence, the country has endured many reforms to its political and economic systems. Under Nursultan Nazarbayev, who initially came to power in 1989 as the head of the Kazakh Communist Party and was eventually elected president in 1991, Kazakhstan has made progress toward developing a market economy, for which it was recognized by the United States in 2002. The country has also enjoyed significant economic growth since 2000, partly due to its large oil, gas, and mineral reserves.
 
A Country Study: Kazakhstan (Library of Congress)
 
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History of U.S. Relations with Kazakhstan

Noted Kazakh-Americans

Aigul Buyuk: Nurse known for helping others in times of need during and after WWI. She also saved two boys’ lives at a Fourth of July parade disguised as a man.
Timur Bekbosunov: Vocal operatic performer who debuted at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2007. He has now began collaborating on the large-scale project The Silent Steppe Cantata, which is about Kazakhstan. His 2010 plans include appearing in the ALOUD series.
 
The United States was the first country to recognize Kazakhstan, on December 25, 1991, after it declared its independence from Russia. 
 
The two countries have long collaborated on issues of security and non-proliferation. Kazakhstan signed the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (1992), the START Treaty (1992), and the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1993). Kazakhstan completely renounced nuclear weapons in 1993, and the US has since assisted Kazakhstan in the removal of nuclear warheads and weapons-grade materials. In 1994, Kazakhstan transferred more than a half-ton of its weapons-grade uranium to the United States, and in 1995, it removed the country’s last warheads.
 
Since 1993, American companies have invested about $14.3 billion in Kazakhstan, mostly in oil and gas, business services, telecommunications and electrical energy sectors. A US-Kazakhstan Bilateral Investment Treaty and a Treaty on the Avoidance of Dual Taxation have been in place since 1994 and 1996, respectively.
 
Between 1992 and 2005, the United States provided roughly $1.205 billion in technical assistance and investment support  to programs in Kazakhstan. These programs were designed to promote market reform, establish a foundation for an open and democratic society, and address security issues.
 
Since 1993, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has administered technical assistance programs to support Kazakhstan’s transition to a market economy, funding programs in privatization, fiscal and financial policy, commercial law, energy, health care and environmental protection.
 
To address the water management problem of the Syr Darya River, Kazakhstan and other basin states, with technical assistance from USAID/Central Asia, established the 1998 Framework Agreement on the Use of Water and Energy Resources of the Syr Darya Basin. Kazakhstan also became a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1999 and, with US assistance, completed the sealing of 181 nuclear test tunnels in May 2000.
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Current U.S. Relations with Kazakhstan

The United States opened its Embassy in Almaty in January 1992. Relations between the two countries are cooperative and bilateral. The US Embassy moved to Astana in 2006.

 
The two countriessigned the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (2001). Under the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, the United States has spent $240 million to assist Kazakhstan in eliminating weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and WMD-related infrastructure.
 
Also in 2001, Kazakhstan and the United States established the US-Kazakhstan Energy Partnership. Since the advent of the war on terror, the US has assisted Kazakhstan to combat illegal narcotics, improve border security, and, more recently combat money laundering and trafficking in persons.
 
The United States and the European Union worked together with the Ministry of Environmental Protection to establish an independent, nonprofit, and nonpolitical Regional Environmental Center (REC) in Almaty in 2001, focused around strengthening civil society and supporting public awareness in the countries of Central Asia. In 2002, the US Environmental Protection Agency, US Embassy, and Ministry of Environmental Protection signed a memorandum of understanding to provide the REC with funding for its grants program.
 
Kazakhstan’s military participates in the US’s International Military Education and Training program, Foreign Military Financing, as well as NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. In 2005, US Central Command conducted approximately 45 bilateral “military cooperation events” with the Ministry of Defense of Kazakhstan and other agencies, an increase of more than 100% since 2002.
 
In 2006, Kazakhstan became the first country to share directly in the cost of a US government’s foreign assistance program. Through 2009, Kazakhstan will contribute over $15 million to a $40 million USAID economic development project aimed at strengthening Kazakhstan’s capacity to achieve its development goals.
 
The Peace Corps has about 140 volunteers working throughout Kazakhstan in business education, English teaching, and the development of environmental non-governmental organizations.
 
The United States supports increased citizen participation in the public arena through support for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Dozens of grants have been provided to support NGOs that promote an independent media, legal reform, women’s rights, civic education, and legislative oversight. USAID also has provided training courses for leaders and professionals.
 
In 2005, 25,346 Americans visited Kazakhstan. This represents a significant increase from 2002-2004, when the number of tourists remained close to 20,000.
 
In 2006, 5,629 Kazakhs visited the US. Tourism to the US began growing substantially after a stagnant period from 2002-2004, when the number of Kazakhs traveling to America was under  4,000.
 
USAID has provided for programs that have aided Kazakhstan in transitioning to become a market economy, and the US Commercial Services provides internships for Kazakhs with US companies, setting up a matchmaker program. The US further supports NGOs coming into the country to assist with legal reform, women’s rights, civic education, and legislative issues. Furthermore, Kazakhstan’s military is a part of the US International Military Education and Training program, Foreign Military Financing, and NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.
 
US, Kazakh Relations (Voice of America)
Kazakhstan’s Presidential Elections (Council on Foreign Relations)
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Where Does the Money Flow

Total US exports to Kazakhstan in 2009 equaled $599.5 million. The largest U.S. export category to Kazakhstan in 2009 was agricultural equipment, which totaled $118.2 million.

 
US exports on the rise included drilling and oilfield equipment, increasing from $31 million to $72.9 million; agricultural machinery equipment, moving up from $4 million to $143.4 million; passenger cars (new and used), increasing from $2.1 million to $114 million; and industrial engines, up from $4.4 million to $22 million.
 
US exports to Kazakhstan on the decline includedrailway transportation equipment, which decreased from $110.7 million to $51.7 million; meat and poultry, down from $16.4 million to $10.7 million; tobacco (unmanufactured), falling from $13.6 million to $9.2 million; finished metal shapes, decreasing from $12.5 million to $6.4 million, and telecommunications equipment, down from $48 million to $34.7 million.
 
U.S. Imports from Kazakhstan were valued at $1.5 billion, resulting in a trade deficit in 2009 of $946.3 million. More than $1 billion of these imports came in the form of fuel and crude oil ($489.7 million and $521.2 million). In 2009, the U.S. also imported $266.1 million worth of uranium. Kazaknstan has 15% of the world’s uranium reserves.
 
The 2010 Congressional foreign aid budget for Kazakhstan is down to $17.3 million in 2010 from $19.3 million in 2009. The largest portion comes from the Assistance for Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia account, and goes primarily towards peace and security ($6.85 million) and stabilization operations and security sector reforms ($3.5 million). According to the State Department, a major priority is developing Kazakhstan’s Huey II helicopter fleet.
 
Kazakhstan (USAID)
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Controversies

Kazakhs Threaten to Sue British Comedian for Portrayal in Borat

In 2006, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen appeared as Borat, a boorish Kazakh journalist. The film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, raised controversy among many Kazakhs, who considered the portrayal racist and insulting. However, Deputy Foreign Minister Rakhat Aliyev urged Cohen to visit the country, so he could see for himself. “He can discover a lot of things. Women drive cars, wine is made of grapes and Jews are free to go to synagogues,” said the minister. Among some of the assertions made by Borat are that Kazakhs are addicted to horse urine, fond of shooting dogs, and viewing incest as a respectable tradition. When the film opened, the Foreign Ministry ran ads on CNN, in The New York Times, and in the International Herald Tribune citing facts and figures on the nation’s economic growth, civil liberties and cultural achievements. Despite the controversy around the movie and character, Borat has gone on to become a top DVD in Kazakhstan.
Borat Invited To Kazakhstan (Associated Press)
 
ChevronTexaco Subpoenaed on Kazakhstan Bribery Charges
In September 2003, ChevronTexaco was subpoenaed by the US Justice Department, which was investigating charges of bribery in Kazakhstan’s oil industry. James Giffen, a US investment banker, was indicted earlier that year on bribery charges from Mobil Oil Corp. to senior Kazakhstan’s government officials, including President Nursultan Nazarbayev and oil minister Nurlan Balgimbaev. Giffen had previously served as the middleman between American and Soviet businesses. After the Soviet collapse, he became Kazakhstan’s leader’s oil advisor. His bribery case has become the biggest US foreign bribery case since the Foreign Corrupt Practices Law was passed in 1977.
 
ExxonMobil denied any payments had occurred. ChevonTexaco also denied any wrongdoing Giffen claimed that while he was working with Nazarbayev he was also working with the CIA, and says he requires access to confidential documents. In April 2009 Judge Pauley ruled against Gifffen.  The Kazakh venture was expected to produce 430,000 to 500,000 barrels of oil per day, and the case is now being referred to as Kazakhgate.  
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Human Rights

According to the State Department, Kazakhstan demonstrated the following human rights problems: “severe limits on citizens’ rights to change their government; military hazing that led to deaths; detainee and prisoner abuse; unhealthy prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; lack of an independent judiciary; restrictions on freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and association; pervasive corruption, especially in law enforcement and the judicial system; prohibitive political party registration requirements; restrictions on the activities of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); discrimination and violence against women; trafficking in persons; and societal discrimination”.

 
The 2009 US Department of State report found that abuse was common in prisons, and military hazing have lead to deaths, suicides, and serious injuries.
 
Police and prison officials at times beat and abused detainees, often to obtain confessions. The procurator general’s office (PGO) and the human rights ombudsman acknowledged that torture and other illegal methods of investigation were still used by some law enforcement officers.
 
A few army personnel continuedto subject conscripts to physical and verbal abuse.  On May 10, 2008, police beat Valery Issayev, who died the next day from injuries. The supervising officer at the time was later sentenced to seven years in prison. Military hazing has also been on the rise, up to 115 incidences in 2008 (which is up from 97 in 2007). As a result of these hazing, three people died and seven commited suicide.
 
Prison conditions remain harsh and facilities do not meet international health standards, although the government began renovating three prisons and two detention facilities during the year as part of a penitentiary development program. Mistreatment occurs in police cells, pretrial detention facilities, and prisons. Incidents of self-mutilation by inmates to protest prison conditions continue.
 
The government reported 167 cases of military hazing and power abuse in 2009, compared in 146 in 2008. Between April 13 and 16, 30 inmates from a prison in Northern Kazakhstan committed self-mutilation to protest poor prison conditions.
 
In October 2009 Inessa Karkhu, a prisoner, was cited by Amnesty International as not receiving essential medicine for glaucoma, which damages sight over time. Karkhu is serving an eight-year sentence for fraud, and could lose her sight if she doesn’t receive the medicine.
 
Corruption is widespread, including in the executive branch,various law enforcement agencies, local government administrations, the education system, and the judiciary. Corruption is evident at every stage of the judicial process. Although judges are among the most highly paid government employees, lawyers and human rights monitors alleged that judges, procurators, and other officials solicited bribes in exchange for favorable rulings in the majority of criminal cases.
 
Government opponents and their family members continue to report that the government monitored occasionally their movements and telephone calls.
 
Media and human rights activists continue to report cases of citizens being pressured or forced to leave their homes without due process, often in connection with planned new developments
 
The government uses a variety of means, including laws, harassment, licensing regulations, Internet restrictions, and criminal and administrative charges to control the media and limit freedom of expression. Judicial actions against journalists and media outlets, including civil and criminal libel suits filed by government officials, contributed to suspension of media outlets and self-censorship. Harassment of and violence against journalists remain problems.
 
There are no formal government restrictions on access to the Internet, but observers reported that the government monitorse-mail and Internet activity, blocking or slowing access to opposition websites, and plantingprogovernment propaganda in Internet chat rooms.
 
The law provides for limited freedom of assembly; there are significant restrictions on this right in practice, and police used force to disrupt peaceful demonstrations. The law defines unsanctioned gatherings, public meetings, marches, demonstrations, illegal picketing, and strikes that upset social and political stability as national security threats.
 
The law provides for limited freedom of association; however, there are significant restrictions on this right in practice. Participation in unregistered public organizations may result in administrative or criminal liability, such as fines, dissolution, probation, or imprisonment.
 
Violence against women, trafficking in persons, and discrimination against persons with disabilities, homosexuals, and non-ethnic Kazakhs in government are also problems.
 
Violence against women, including domestic violence, is a problem. There is no specific domestic violence law, but it can be addressed under assault and battery provisions of the criminal code. Trafficking in women remains a problem.
 
Human rights groups publicly drew attention to the problem of discrimination against women. According to observers, women in rural areas face greater discrimination than women in urban areas, and suffer from a greater incidence of domestic violence, limited education and employment opportunities, limited access to information, and discrimination in their land and property rights.
 
Most workers arenot able to join or form trade unions of their choice. The government exercises considerable influence over organized labor and favorsstate-affiliated unions over independent unions.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Note: The United States recognized Kazakhstan, Dec 26, 1991. Embassy Alma-Ata (now Almaty) was established Feb 3, 1992, with Courtney as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.

 
William Harrison Courtney
Appointment: Aug 11, 1992
Presentation of Credentials: Sept 15, 1992
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 1, 1995
 
A. Elizabeth Jones
Appointment: Oct 3, 1995
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 18, 1995
Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 12, 1998
 
Richard Henry Jones
Appointment: Oct 22, 1998
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 23, 1999
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 10, 2001
 
Larry C. Napper
Appointment: Aug 3, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 19, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 7 2004
 
John M. Ordway
Appointment: May 12, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 17, 2004
Termination of Mission: 2008
 
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Kazakhstan's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Umarov, Kairat

The central Asian nation of Kazakhstan—the largest of the former soviet republics that gained independence during the dissolution of the old Soviet Union—sent a new ambassador to the U.S. at the beginning of 2013. Kairat Umarov, now serving his third stint in Washington, D.C., presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on January 14, succeeding ambassador Erlan A. Idrissov, who had served since July 4, 2007.

 

Born January 12, 1963, in Fergana, Uzbekistan, Kairat Yermekovich Umarov earned his undergraduate degree at the Almaty Pedagogical Institute of Foreign Languages in 1985, teaching there as well from 1987 to 1988, and a Ph.D. in History at the Kazakh University of History, Archeology and Ethnography in 1989. He was chief editor of the Writers’ Union of Kazakhstan from 1989 to 1991. 

 

After Kazakhstan declared its independence in 1991, Umarov left the academic orbit for public service in the nation’s newly founded Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 1992 to 1994, he served as second secretary, first secretary, and head of section at the Ministry headquarters in the capital city of Almaty.

 

Umarov’s first foreign posting was to the U.S., as he served as first secretary and counselor at the Kazakh Embassy in Washington, from 1994 to 1996. Back in Almaty, Umarov served as deputy director of the Ministry's European States Department from 1996 to 1997, and as  eputy director of its Third Department from 1997 to 1998.

 

Umarov returned for his second American stint to serve as minister-counselor at the embassy from 1998 to 2003. In 2004, he served as ambassador-at-large and chief inspector of the Foreign Policy Center of the Administration of the President of Kazakhstan.

 

Later in 2004, Umarov received his first ambassadorship, serving as ambassador to India at the Kazakh embassy in New Delhi from 2004 to 2009, concurrently accredited to Sri Lanka from 2008 to 2009. He then served as deputy foreign minister of Kazakhstan from 2009 to January 2013. 

 

Umarov, speaks Kazakh, Russian, English and French. He and his wife, Galiya, have one son.

 

Official Biography

Speech at the Forum “The April 26 Almaty ‘Istanbul Process’ Meeting: Toward Clarity on Post-2014 Afghanistan?” (by Kairat Umarov)

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Kazakhstan's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan

Krol, George
ambassador-image

 

George A. Krol was nominated by President Barack Obama to be ambassador to Kazakhstan on May 1, 2014. If confirmed by the Senate, it will be the third ambassadorial post for the career Foreign Service officer.

 

Krol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1956, and raised in Manchester Township, New Jersey, the youngest of three sons of Mr. and Mrs. Anthony J. Krol. He attended St. Peter’s Preparatory School in Jersey City, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in History, magna cum laude, at Harvard University. At Oxford University in England he received both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

 

Krol taught at the National War College, and joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1982, taking assignments for the State Department in India, Poland and the Ukraine. In 1991, he was the U.S. consul in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). From 1993 to 1995, he served as deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires in Minsk, Belarus. Between 1995 and 1997, he was special assistant to the Ambassador-at-Large for the New Independent States, and from 1997 to 1999 he served as director of the Office of Russian Affairs—both positions based in Washington, D.C.

 

In 1999, Krol was named minister-counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia, a post he held through 2002. The following year he was appointed U.S. ambassador to Belarus, a position he held through 2006.

 

In April 2007, President George W. Bush announced his intention to nominate Krol to be the U.S. ambassador to Turkmenistan, but he was never confirmed, although the reasons are unclear. Krol subsequently served as deputy assistantsSecretary for South and Central Asian Affairs. Among his responsibilities was engaging in direct consultation with Uzbek government officials.

Krol was nominated to be ambassador to Uzbekistan in July 2010 and assumed the post about a year later. While there, he has taken criticism from human rights groups in the country for deferring to the regime of Islam Karimov, under which there are frequent rights violations, including forced labor of its citizens, and little freedom of expression. However, Uzbekistan has been a vital part of the U.S. supply train to American forces in Afghanistan.

 

Krol is married to Melissa Welch.

                                                                                    -Danny Biederman, Steve Straehley

 

Official Biography

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan

Fairfax, Kenneth
ambassador-image

Experienced in both nuclear and economic issues, Kenneth J. Fairfax was finally approved by the United States Senate to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan. The former Soviet republic has been a focus of ongoing efforts to safeguard nuclear materials once owned by the Soviet military, which had key bases in Kazakhstan. Nominated by President Barack Obama on March 29, 2011, Fairfax was sworn in on September 15. 

 
A Kentucky native, Fairfax graduated from Xavier High School in Louisville in 1977, and earned a B.A. in Government from Oberlin College in 1981. He worked as an urban economist with a private consulting firm in San Francisco, California, and was the president of a small technology company in nearby Silicon Valley.
 
Fairfax left the private sector in 1987 to join the Foreign Service, beginning his career that year as an Economics and Commercial Officer at the embassy in Muscat, Oman. In 1990, he was assigned to South Korea, where he was Vice Consul at the consulate in Pusan, and then Consul at the embassy in Seoul. While working as Environment Science and Technology Officer at the embassy in Moscow, Russia, from 1993 to 1995, Fairfax specialized in nuclear issues, and is credited with writing several key cables that prompted Washington policymakers to take steps to ensure the safe storage and disposal of nuclear materials recovered from dismantled nuclear weapons. Back in Washington he served as director of nuclear materials security at the National Security Council.
 
Fairfax’s next assignment was as Deputy Consul General in Vancouver, Canada, from 1997 to 2000. Returning to the former Soviet Union, Fairfax was Counselor for Economic Affairs at the embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, from 2000 to 2002. He returned to consular work, serving as Principal Officer and Consul General at the Consulate General in Krakow, Poland, from 2003 to 2006, and at the Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, from July 2007 to 2010. His last overseas assignment was as Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs at the embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, from 2010 to 2011.
 
Fairfax and his wife, Nyetta Yarkin, have been married since about 1986 and have two children. 
 
The Loose Nukes Cable that Shook Washington (by David Hoffman, Foreign Policy)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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