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Kazakh Report: January 3, 2002


3 January 2002

ORAL SAULEBAY IS STILL IN TASHKENT JAIL
RFE/RL correspondents report that it became clear on 3 January that Oral Saulebay, one of the leaders of Kazakhstan's Azat movement and Chairman of Committee on Protection of Kazakh Land, is being held in the Tashkent Oblast Internal Affairs Department jail (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 2 January 2 2002). His lawyer, Sergey Rakhmanberdiev of the Uzbek Lawyers Association, told RFE/RL that Uzbek officials have charged Saulebay with "organizing an unsanctioned mass gathering" under Chapter 154 of the Uzbek Criminal Code. If guilty, he could face a prison sentence of up to three years. Rakhmanberdiev said that Saulebay began a hunger strike on January 1 to demand that representatives of the Kazakh Embassy be present during his interrogations. He is refusing to answer any questions before he meets with Kazakh diplomats. Ashirbek Seidualiyev of South Kazakhstan Oblast told RFE/RL that Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry should take up the issue.

Saulebay openly criticized the Kazakh and Uzbek Presidents at a mass gathering on 28 December organized by local residents of Baghys and Turkestanets villages on the Kazakh-Uzbek border. He said that the Uzbek and Kazakh leaderships should have completed the delimitation of the Kazakh-Uzbek border long ago. The gathering was held on the same day that the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan held talks in Tashkent.

2002 DESIGNATED AS YEAR OF HEALTH
The Presidential Press Service announced on January 3 that President Nursultan Nazarbayev has designated 2002 as health year. Special financial support will be allocated for the health care sector in Kazakhstan this year.

SOME UTILITIES BECAME MORE EXPENSIVE ON JANUARY 1, 2002
The Astana Anti-Monopoly Agency has announced a 35 percent increase starting January 1, 2002 in the cost of water used for industrial purposes. Although nothing was said about either electricity and heating supply services or other housing utilities, residents are concerned about a possible increase in the cost of those utilities.

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