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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


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West Taps Kazakh Potential

Whilst lower taxes and clearer laws make doing business in Kazakhstan easier than in Russia, there are still many of the same problems if you are not a major oil company. ""It's a lot easier here"", says Gerard Kuhn de Chizelle, the French oil company Elf Aquitaine's representative in the capital, Alma Ata. ""The Kazakhs are keen to attract foreign investment, particularly to find and develop oil fields. They go out of their way to do just that"". It is a view echoed by many Western businessmen who visit here in search of ventures. ""The Kazakhs are a lot more sincere than the Russians"", says Bruce Wallace, an American digital oil-field cartographer. Wallace was here for the first time in the wake of a completion date announcement for Kazakhstan's largest oil deal for $4. 7 billion with American oil giant Chevron. He says: ""In writing at least, their tax laws are much stricter. They don't change from day to day. Corruption here is less pervasive. and they're not so suspicious"".

The KGB Should Keep Out of Sales

The Russian Foreign Ministry is apparently stepping up visa sales abroad in an attempt to make up a massive shortfall in the budget. The former KGB has piloted a new magazine as its first official commercial venture. It seems that Russia's state organs, like every enterprise in the country, are hustling for ways to make money in these hard times. So long as these are legal and do not abuse the ministrie's monopolistic positions, it is hard to criticize them for that. But not in the case of the Security Ministry. The former KGB has an American agent who helps it market information. He helps negotiate with publishers for book contracts based on information in the KGB files, for film footage and other valuable resources. It is all quite legal and logical. But imagine if, instead of having to abide by the Freedom of Information Act, America's CIA distributed documents according to free market principles. You would apply not to a court but to a sales agent from Los Angeles to obtain what you wanted.

Hospital Power Loss Kills Patient

A hospital patient attached to an artificial respirator died during an operation this week when a Novgorod hospital experienced a blackout. The operation for an unspecified disease was apparently going well when the blackout plunged the operating room into darkness and shut down the respirator. A back-up electrical generator also failed. By the time doctors had lit candles to continue to operation in the chief Army hospital in town, the patient had died, Itar-Tass reported from the local Novgorodskiye Vedomosti newspaper.
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