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Kazakh Report: January 2, 2002


2 January 2002

UZBEK POLICE DETAIN LEADING MEMBER OF AZAT MOVEMENT
Oral Saulebay, who is one of the leaders of Azat movement and Chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Kazakh Land, was detained by Uzbek police on 30 December in the village of Baghys in South Kazkahstan. Saulebay and several local citizens were detained two days after local activists announced their intention of proclaiming the so-called Independent Baghys Kazakh Republic. All those detained were released later, except for Saulebay, whose prsent whereabouts are not known.

While the presidents of Kazakhstan (Nursultan Nazarbayev), Kyrgyzstan (Askar Akayev), Tajikistan (Emomali Rahmonov) and Uzbekistan (Islam Karimov) were holding talks on regional security and cooperation in Tashkent on 28 December, hundreds of Baghys residents and Azat activists staged a protest demonstration on the Uzbek-Kazakh border to demand that the Uzbek and Kazakh leaders pay to attention to their problems. Some 2,500 inhabitants of Baghys and the nearby village of Turkestanets demanded the delimitation of the Kazakh-Uzbek border. The villages are situated along the border and their inhabitants still do not know what country they are citizens of.

Local activists (all ethnic Kazakhs) organized a special session on December 28 and announced their intention of proclaiming an Independent Baghys-Kazakh Republic if the border demarcation issue is not solved.

Late on 1 January a Committee for the release of Oral Saulebay was established in Almaty. Its members held a press conference on 2 January at which they said Saulebay's case should be solved and he should be released as soon as possible. The Uzbek police have accused Saulebay of insulting the dignity and honor of the presidents of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

GHALYMZHAN ZHAQIYANOV'S FORMER ASSOCIATE IS STILL IN JAIL
Sergey Gorbenko, a former Deputy Governor of Pavlodar Oblast, is still in jail and has been accused of the illegal privatization of state- owned depots in Pavlodar. The depots have been privatized by local private company "Ramat." Another former Deputy Governor of Pavlodar Oblast, Aleksandr Ryumkin is still in hospital with heart problems after having been interrogated by local police (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 28 December 2001). Both lost their jobs after Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov was sacked from the position of Pavlodar Oblast's governor in mid-November. Zhaqiyanov is one of the leaders of Kazakhstan's Democratic Choice movement, which openly opposes Kazakhstan's current leadership. Gorbenko began a hunger strike last week. He says that all the accusations against him are politically motivated.

GALES, HOMICIDES, ALCOHOL POISONING MAR NEW YEAR IN KAZAKHSTAN
According to Kazakhstan's Interior Ministry, in the night between December 31 and January 1, 250 crimes were committed in Kazakhstan, of which 201 have been reportedly been fully investigated. The crimes included 11 murders. In Almaty, 39 local citizens were hospitalized in the first hours of the new year after consuming alcoholic beverages of suspicious quality. Five more citizens of Almaty were hospitalised after having been knifed, but four of them were released from the hospital the following next day.

Residents of several villages and towns in Eastern Kazakhstan Oblast, including Ayagoz, Zhangiz-Tobe, Urzhar and Zharma, celebrated the New Year in total darkness after windy weather destroyed local power lines. Supplies were restored on 2 January.

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