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Kazakh Report: January 29, 2002


29 January 2002

OSCE HOLDS FURTHER ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION ON POSSIBLE AMENDMENTS TO KAZAKH ELECTION LAW...
On January 29, the fourth session of a round table discussion devoted to possible changes in Kazakhstan's election legislation began in Astana. Members of Kazakhstan's Central Election Committee, staff from the OSCE's office in Kazakhstan and leaders of various political parties and movements are taking part in the session.

Also raised was the need to change the law on the mass media. Peter Norlander of OSCE 's office in Kazakhstan said at the session that all TV companies in Kazakhstan are state-run, adding that there is no possibility for independent opinions to be broadcast by such TV channels. According to Oral Saulebay, who is a leading member of Azat movement, the Kazakh language has never really established itself in the mass media since Kazakhstan became independent.

Kazakh politician Dos Koshim told RFE/RL correspondents that political parties and movements have proposed many amendments to the law on the mass media and the proposed draft law has been sent to the Kazakh Parliament for discussion. Bolat Abilov, a well known Kazakh businessman and former Parliament deputy who is now a member of the opposition movement Democratic Choice for Kazakhstan, said that Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his U.S. counterpart George Bush signed a joint communique in Washington last month, under which Kazakhstan agreed to adopt new election legislation to ensure that future elections in Kazkahstan are truly free and fair. In order to comply with that pledge, Abilov said, the government must draft a new law.

...WHICH REPUBLICAN PEOPLE'S PARTY OF KAZAKHSTAN BOYCOTTS
Leaders of Republican People's Party announced their refusal to take part in the fourth session of the round table discussion on possible changes to Kazakhstan's election legislation. Amirzhan Qosanov, who is chairman of the party's Executive Committee, told RFE/RL that the decision not to take part was taken on the eve of the third stage of the round table in May 2001. He explained that decision by the fact that Kazakh government had rejected 17 amendments to Kazakh law on election proposed by OSCE in 2000-2001. According to Qosanov, if Kazakhstan as a member of the OSCE does not accept that organization's proposals, no constructive dialogue is possible.

Asked to give his opinion about the 28 January resignation of Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqayev, Qosanov said it was due to many factors, the most important of which was probably that Toqayev became tired of being a puppet in Nazarbayev's hands. "His recent statements criticizing young Kazakh politicians opposed to Nazarbayev's regime showed that he is not able to express ideas of his own. I know that person, I have worked with him, he was not that sort of politician," Qosanov said. He added that the change of Kazakh Premier is "not a big deal in Kazakhstan," and that "such an event has the same significance as a change in the head of the Presidential Apparatus."

Qasymzhomart Toqayev resigned on January 28 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 January 2002), and on January 29, Nazarbayev appointed him to his earlier position of Foreign Minister and to that of State Secretary. In future those two posts, previously separate, are to be combined.

10,000 PRISONERS MAY SOON BE RELEASED FROM KAZAKH JAILS
The Senate (the upper chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament) adopted a draft law on amnesty this week. Debate on the draft first began in November and the amnesty was supposed to have been adopted on the eve of the10th anniversary of Kazakhstan's independence (December 16). Kazakh Deputy Minister of Justice Nikolay Belorukov told RFE/RL that over 10,000 inmates of Kazakhstan's jails will be released. The verdicts on about 12,000 citizens of Kazkahstan serving their punishment terms out of jail will be also annulled.

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