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Kazakh Report: February 12, 2002


12 February 2002

GOVERNOR OF SOUTH KAZAKHSTAN IS NOT DEPORTING ETHNIC KAZAKHS FROM UZBEK-KAZAKH DISPUTED TERRITORIES TO KAZAKHSTAN
The Almaty-based 31 Kanal and KTK commercial television channels, as well as Kazakhstan Today News Agency, reported late on 11 February that South Kazakhstan Oblast governor Berdibek Saparbayev is moving ethnic Kazakhs from the villages of Turkestanets and Baghys, which are disputed between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, to other regions of Kazakhstan.

But a spokesman for the South Kazakhstan Oblast administration told RFE/RL on 12 February that the Oblast administration has announced its readiness to provide all ethnic Kazakhs who want to move from Turkestanets village to South Kazakhstan Oblast with housing and other means of support. That spokesman also told RFE/RL that it has been agreed between Kazakh and Uzbek officials that Baghys village will belong to Kazakhstan while Turkestanets village will be under the full jurisdiction of Uzbekistan. Since about 20 per cent of the residents of Turkestanets village (about 400 people) are Kazakh passport holders, they may want to move to Kazakhstan. That is why South Kazakhstan Oblast officials issued an official statement about their readiness to help those who want to move, the spokesman said.

VETERANS OF SOVIET AFGHAN WAR AGAINST SENDING KAZAKH TROOPS TO AFGHANISTAN
Kazakh veterans of the Soviet Afghan war (1979-1989) held a press conference in Almaty on February 12 where they made clear their negative attitude to the idea of sending Kazakh peace keeping forces to Kabul. According to Qayrat Mediev of the Kazakh Association of Afghan War Veterans, before sending young Kazakh soldiers to war, Kazakhstan should adopt new laws on support for those who will return from Afghanistan, especially for those who will return disabled or crippled. Mediev said that during the Soviet era all young men who returned from the Afghan war were forgotten by the government, and they were not provided with any financial, moral, or psychological support. We do not want our younger brothers to face the same disastrous situation when they are back after having been used by our government as so-called peacekeepers in Afghanistan, Mediev said. He added that he and his friends who took part in the Soviet-Afghan war knew the reality in that country, adding that all young Kazakh solders should be given enough information and special training about diseases and other aspects of life in Afghanistan.

KAZAKH MINISTER OF INFORMATION, CULTURE AND SOCIAL CONCORD HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE
Kazakhstan's Minister of Information, Culture and Social Concord Mukhtar Qul-Mukhammet held a press conference in Astana on 12 February where he said that the Cabinet has allocated increased funding for his ministry this year. He said this year the volume of funding is 49 per cent higher than it was last year. He added that this year the wages of workers and artists of the Almaty-based theater of Opera and ballet will be drastically increased and the Ghabit Musrepov Youth Theater will be renovated under a special government-financed program.

PRESENTATION OF US-PRINTED PHOTO-ALBUM ABOUT KAZAKHSTAN HELD IN ASTANA
On February 12, a special presentation of a new photo-album called "The Soul of Kazakhstan" was held in Astana. The album was published in the U.S. by Exxon-Mobil Oil Company. It was reported at the ceremony that in 30 years Exxon-Mobil has printed 30 such photo albums about the countries it operated in. Materials for the album started being compiled in 1997. The first presentation of the album was held in Washington during Kazakh Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqayev's working visit to the U.S. earlier this month.

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