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one week before sauseschritt arrived in astana, the country faced a severe shortage of bread in Astana and other cities of kazakhstan. this is, as the economist put it, a huge embarrassement for the kazakh leadership after its (expected) victory in the august elections.

the recent raise in prices for bread (30 per cent) and doubling for sugar, flour and sunflower oil recalled the darkest days of hyperinflation of post soviet days, writes the economist. between 1991 and 1995 in kazakhstan real GDP fell by 39 %, exports collapsed and poverty grew to amounts, which had not been experienced in the former soviet union for a long time. this past economic crisis is well remembered by the kazakh population although economic growth (but not poverty reduction) seems to be working compared to other countries of the central asian region.

experiencing a remarkable economic recovery (led by the prospering oil and mining sectors) and facing the growing wealth of a narrow segment of the population, its hard to understand for kazakh citizens that a shortage of basic food becomes reality.

the economist warns

(...) a home-made food crisis is politically far more dangerous to the countries authoritarian leadership than a financial meltdown, which can be partly blamed on wobby international markets. the elderly complain that even during the harsh years under Joseph Stalin they always had bread (...)

by the way, international markets (increased world-market prices) were of course a serious reason for the bread shortage not only in kazakhstan but also in other emerging economies. even russia established
price control meachanisms to secure food prices and froze prizes by mid october. Shouldn´t we rather talk about securing foor for the population instead of blaming countries for soviet style interventions in the economy? one would expect that a country with a prospering economy to have enough financial resources to counteract those shortages immediately. due to the political danger the government immediately has undertaken measures to avoid future shortages. if you are interested in the multifacetted reasons of the so called bread crisis in kazakhstan, read the cacianalyst!

officially the shortages are now declared being over - at least in hotels and other places, where sauseschritt stayed during his visit in astana. but this does not say anything. its a big O mission and big O missions mostly are safe, comfortable and far away from the social reality of the majority of people. AGB


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