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Kazakh Deputies OK First Reading Of Law Banning Foreigners From Buying, Renting Farmland

The Kazakh Mazhilis approved the first reading of the bill on April 7. (file photo)
The Kazakh Mazhilis approved the first reading of the bill on April 7. (file photo)

NUR-SULTAN -- The Kazakh parliament's lower chamber has approved the first reading of a bill banning the purchase and rental of farmland by foreigners in the Central Asian nation ahead of the expiration of a moratorium on land sales this summer.

Agriculture Minister Saparkhan Omarov said at a session of the Mazhilis on April 7 that current agreements on farmlands rented by some foreign companies or joint ventures with foreign capital will expire in the 2022-2025 period and will not be extended.

The move comes after President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev proposed the ban in late-February.

The five-year moratorium on selling and leasing Kazakh agricultural land to foreigners was introduced in 2016 after thousands demonstrated in unprecedented rallies across the tightly-controlled nation, protesting the government’s plan to attract foreign investment into the agriculture sector by opening up the market.

The protests stopped after the government withdrew the plan, but two men who organized the largest rally in the western city of Atyrau, Talghat Ayan and Maks Boqaev, were sentenced to five years in prison each after being found guilty of inciting social discord, knowingly spreading false information, and violating the law on public assembly.

Ayan was released on parole in April, 2018, and Boqaev was released in February this year,

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