The chairman of the Institute Open Society and the head of the Soros foundations network, George Soros, believes that the current toughening of Kazakh legislation in the sphere of civil society may harm the country in the future.
He said this speaking at the international business conference "Kazakhstan is attracting a new wave of investment - strategies of diversification and sustainable growth" in Almaty today.
George Soros believes that the recent change of the political situations in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan have made "the Kazakh government nervous".
In particular, he thinks that the government's instinctive reaction was directed at toughening legislation norms, namely, on fighting extremism, ensuring national security and on activities of NGOs.
Soros believes that these amendments to legislation "create the government's control, similar to the Uzbek style, in particular, over NGOs by strongly limiting their rights to freedom of speech and associations".
He recalled that an opposition party, the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan, and the Respublika opposition newspaper were closed down this year and one of the president's opponents [Zamanbek Nurkadilov] was convicted of libel. He said that his foundation had faced tax evasion charges and this led to a "politically-motivated" criminal investigation.
He does not think that Kazakhstan might follow Uzbekistan's path but Kazakhstan's recent political initiatives in legislation "do not help the country much in implementation of its promising potential".
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