Tag Archives: floods

Tokayev orders Kazakh billionaires to pay for flood reconstruction

ALMATY/APRIL 19 2024 (The Bulletin) — Kazakh Pres. Kassym Jomart Tokayev ordered Kazakh billionaires to pay for reconstruction projects in the north and west of the country after the worst flooding in living memory.

He told people who had fled their homes in the Kostanay region that the richest Kazakhs would be assigned a region to fund.

“We have very large entrepreneurs who are on the Forbes list. We will have a conversation with them and assign each region, district, village to answer by name,” he said, making a reference to the Forbes Rich List.

Snow in Kazakhstan’s mountains and on its steppe melted quicker than usual at the end of March because of high temperatures, bursting rivers and overwhelming dams. 

Kazakh emergency workers have said that they have now evacuated more than 117,000 people from their homes. Uralsk, near the border with Kazakhstan, is one of the most recent cities to flood.

Floods have also hit Russian cities in neighbouring southern Siberia.

Mr Tokayev has previously forced wealthy Kazakhs to fund reconstruction projects. In 2022, he forced Kazakhstan’s wealthiest men to pay for the reconstruction of the country after mass protests.

The protests undermined the power and influence of his predecessor as president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Many Kazakh billionaires owe their wealth to Mr Nazarbayev’s regime, which analysts have said was a kleptocracy.

Kenes Rakishev, a businessman, closely associated with Mr Nazarbayev, has pledged 1.2b tenge ($2.7m) to rebuild cities after the floods.

Mr Tokayev has already cancelled the high-profile Astana International Forum and he has now said that he wants to reduce the budget of the World Nomad Games, which Kazakhstan is hosting in September.


— This story was published in issue 565 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on April 23 2024

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2024

Floods in north Kazakhstan worsen

ALAMTY/APRIL 14 2024 (The Bulletin) — The Yesil River which runs through Petropavlovsk burst its banks as the worst flooding in generations continued to ravage north and west Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan’s emergencies ministry said that more than 111,000 people and 106,000 animals have now been evacuated since the flooding started in March. Several people have died.

Kassym Jomart Tokayev, the Kazakh president, has also warned of a potential second wave of flooding, caused mainly by a sharp rise in temperatures which melted tonnes of snow in the mountains and on the steppe faster than usual.

“The government and akimats should quickly solve the problems of accommodating the affected people and providing them with the necessary assistance,” he said. “The situation at the evacuation points should be constantly monitored.”

Rivers across north and west Kazakhstan, as well as in southern Russia, that drain huge areas have swollen and burst their banks. Dams have been breached. 

Mr Tokayev has been quick to blame regional leaders for failing to prepare for the floods and for not handing out aid and preparing accommodation speedily.

And reports from the west of the country have said that local anger is rising.  In the town of Qulsary, near Atyrau, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported that people were demonstrating outside a local government building demanding compensation for the floods.

Demonstrators also said that they were worried about the spread of disease because floodwaters had churned up the decomposed bodies of people buried in shallow graves during Covid. 

Analysts have also warned that climate change may make mass flooding in Kazakhstan seasonal.


— This story was published in issue 564 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on April 15 2024

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2024

Tokayev cancels Astana International Forum

ALMATY/APRIL 13 2024 (The Bulletin) — Kazakh Pres. Kassym Jomart Tokayev cancelled his set piece Astana International Forum because of heavy floods in the north and west of the country.

He said that it would be inappropriate to host the annual event after what he has described as the worst snowmelt floods in 80 years forced thousands of people to flee.

In a Tweet, Mr Tokayev said that the priority for Kazakhstan was to “save financial resources to eliminate the consequences of large-scale destruction and provide assistance to the citizens of the country”.

The Astana International Forum was first held in 2008 and is used by the Kazakh government to show off the country to various international dignitaries. Only the Covid pandemic had previously forced the forum to be cancelled.


— This story was published in issue 564 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on April 15 2024

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2024

Trial begins of manslaughter over dam collapse

DEC. 25 2020 (The Bulletin) — Uzbekistan’s Supreme Court began the trial for manslaughter through negligence of eight men who built and designed a dam in the north of the country that burst in 2020, flooding thousands of acres of farmland, forcing 70,000 people to flee their homes and killing six people. The case is being closely watched in Uzbekistan. Officials said that they suspected that corruption was partly to blame for the failure of the dam, which was finished in 2017.


— This story was first published in issue 467 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Landslide kills 24 people in south Kyrgyzstan after heavy rainfall

BISHKEK, APRIL 29 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — A landslide in south Kyrgyzstan buried a village, killing 24 people, including nine children.

The landslide has forced the government to explain why more people hadn’t been evacuated from the area around Osh, known to be vulnerable to landslides, after heavy rain.

Landslides are common in Kyrgyzstan, a poor and mountainous country where many people eke out a living from rearing cattle in remote areas.

Pictures from the landslide show a whole section of green hill had given way and crashed into the village of Ayu below.

The Kyrgyz ministry of emergencies, which has previously been criticised for being under-funded and ineffective, said that it had earlier issued warnings to everybody in the village to leave.

Elmira Sheripova, a spokeswoman for the ministry said that a dozen families chose to stay. She explained that families across Kyrgyzstan often refuse to relocate despite warnings from the authorities.

“Families refuse to leave dangerous zones for two reasons,” she said. “First, people say that they have been living in their houses for more than 20 years. Even their parents lived there for many years and nothing dangerous has ever happened. Second, people were not satisfied with the land provided from local governments.”

Nearly 18,000 families in Kyrgyzstan are considered to be living in dangerous area.

Ms Sheripova said that over 11,000 have been resettled from dangerous areas, 4,000 are on a list waiting for land to be allocated to them by local authorities but more than 3,000 have refused to relocate.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 327, published on May 5 2017)


Floods hit the north Kazakhstan

APRIL 17 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — Heavy rainfall triggered floods in north and central Kazakhstan, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes. Media reports said that 5,000 people have been evacuated to high ground. The worst hit area was around the town of Atbasar, 260km north of Astana.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 325, published on April 17 2017)


Heavy rain floods Azerbaijani capital for the second time this year

BAKU, OCT. 17/18 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — Heavy rainfall flooded parts of Baku forcing dozens of people to flee their homes and triggering a round of grumbling by locals about a lack of investment into essential infrastructure.

This is important because the popularity of Azerbaijan’s government has fallen sharply over the last couple of years with a drop in living standards linked to a devaluation in the local currency and a squeeze in GDP levels. Earlier this year, virtually unprecedented protests against a drop in living standards swept across a handful of towns in rural Azerbaijan.

This was the second major flood in Baku this year. The ministry of ecology described a flood in September as the worst for 36 years.

Reaction from Baku residents showed the levels of frustration felt by people. Aygun, a 28-year old teacher, said the government should start improving infrastructure in Baku and its environs.

“In the villages around Baku, the roads are all unpaved. So even after a day of rain, we get stuck in the mud,” she said.

And Emin, a 33-year-old consultant, agreed. He blamed corruption and mismanagement for the flooding.

“If they are going to build a new sewage system, they will need millions of manat,” he said. “But I’m not sure they have the money now when the oil prices are down. I don’t even know if they have the will.” He also referenced a cartoon on social media which showed the mayor of Baku, Hajibala Abutalibov, sitting and calmly ignoring the rain.

“I think the message is that it’s always ordinary people who suffer, never the authorities,” Emin said. “And that’s the reality.”

The government declined to comment but a spokesman for Azersu, Azerbaijan’s water operator, said the city’s sewage system needed updating.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 301, published on Oct. 21 2016)

Tajik town renames itself Rakhmonabod after Pres. Rakhmon

MARCH 3 2016, DUSHANBE (The Conway Bulletin) — Tajikistan’s senate approved a request from a small town in the east of the country to be renamed Rakhmonabod, after President Emomali Rakhmon, as a thank you for his prompt aid after a flood in 2015. Villagers of Pitovdasht, in the mountainous Gorno-Badakhsan region, officially applied for the name change last September.

Residents said they wanted this to be a symbol of gratitude for Mr Rakhmon, president of Tajikistan since the mid-1990s, who fulfilled his promise of building 82 new homes after the flooding.

In July 2015, the region was hit hard by floods after glaciers melted and over 10,000 people had to be resettled.

Observers have said the town’s name change lies somewhere between genuine gratitude and the president’s cult of personality.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 270, published on March 4 2016)


Zoo re-opens in Georgian capital

SEPT. 12 2015, TBILISI (The Conway Bulletin) — The city’s zoo has re-opened three months after a flood hit it killing 19 people and an estimated 277 animals.

Pictures of dead lions and tigers and of a hippo wandering through central Tbilisi flashed around the world on the morning of June 14 after the flood tore into the zoo. A quarter of its animals were killed in the flood.

The zoo has re-opened on its original site but will move to a new premise on the outskirts of the city later in the year, the zoo’s director Zurab Gurielidze said.

He also said European zoos had agreed to give 150 animals to the zoo.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 248, published on Sept. 18 2015)


Georgians find tiger’s body

JULY 5 2015 (The Conway Bulletin) – The body of the final animal missing from Tbilisi Zoo after a flood swept into it in June has been found in central Tbilisi, media reported. Salima was an Ussuri tiger. Last year she gave birth to three cubs.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 239, published on July 9 2015)