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Kazakh Report: January 15, 2002

15 January 2002

A spokesman for former Pavlodar Oblast governor Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov told RFE/RL that Zhaqiyanov was hospitalized in Almaty on January 12 due to a minor heart problem reportedly caused by lawsuit recently brought against him by the Kazakh authorities, but was released two days later. Zhaqiyanov is officially accused of abuse of power and financial mismanagement. Zhaqiyanov's former associates Aleksander Riumkin and Sergei Gorbenko were likewise accused last month of similar alleged misdeeds. Gorbenko is on hunger strike in his cell at Pavlodar City jail.

Several other local officials in Pavlodar Oblast were sacked after Danial Akhmetov replaced Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov in mid-November. Igor Mandziuk, the Director of a Chemical Factory in Pavlodar, held a press conference in Almaty on 15 January at which he told journalists that Akhmetov is trying to annul all the deals made by the former oblast leadership, including the sale as the result of special tender held last autumn of 60 per cent of the Pavlodar Chemical Factory's shares to Astana Holding for 60 million Tenges ($402,600). Astana Holding agreed to pay off all the factory's debts, which amount to 165 million Tenges, and to cover all the debts to the factory's workers (63 million Tenges). But Akhmetov's administration announced the results of the tender are "not fair" and may soon be revised.

A Chinese Parliament delegation led by Ismail Amat - a member of China's State Council, arrived in Astana on January 14. Amat thanked the Kazakh leadership for supporting China's fight against Muslim separatists. He met the same day with Zharmakhan Tuyaqbayev, the Chairman of the Mazhilis (the lower chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament). China's Western Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous province is mainly populated by Uighurs (who are Turkic speaking Muslims) and other Turkic minorities, such as Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and Uzbeks. The region has been hit by unrest allegedly caused by Uighur separatists in the last several years. The territory of Xinjiang used to have statehood in the far past and in recent history. The most recent official name of the independent state of what is now known as Xinjiang was Eastern Turkistan.

Amat is a representative of the Uighurs of Eastern Turkistan (or Xinjinag - which means New Frontier in Chinese). Ismail Amat also met with Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqayev.

On January 15, the deputy chairman of the upper parliament chamber, Omirbek Baigeldy and a group of Kazakh Senators held talks with the Chinese delegation during which the importance of Kazakh-Chinese diplomatic and economic relations was stressed. Amat and his delegation are expected to leave for Kyrgyzstan later on 15 January.

Well-known Kazakh disident Karishal Asanov was summoned to Almaty City Prosecutor's office on January 15. Asanov told RFE/RL that he has been officially charged with insulting the personal dignity and honor of Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Speaking at a mass meeting in Almaty in November 2001, Asanov called on Nazarbayev to resign as president and hold new presidential elections (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 28 November 2001).