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Kazakh Report: February 18, 2002


18 February 2002

COMMISSION ON STATE BUDGET MEETS...
On February 15, Kazakhstan's Commission on the State Budget held a session at which the parameters of the state budget for 2003 were reportedly discussed. Kazakh Premier Imanghaliy Tasmaghambetov, who is also Chairman of the Committee, participated. Deputy Premier and Kazakh Finance Minister Alexander Pavlov told journalists after the session that the Commission on the State Budget will in future work on a permanent basis and more systematically. He added that even the level of the Commission's status has become higher now that it is chaired by the premier. This year the Commission held its first session in the middle of February which is three months earlier than last year.

...AS DOES STATE COMMISSION ON TENDERS FOR BROADCASTING LICENSES
Kazakhstan's State Committee on Tenders for Broadcasting Licences discussed licences for television channels and radios in Astana on 15 February. Zhunusbek Sultanmuratov of the Kazakh Cabinet's press service told RFE/RL that several local private television channels and radios have been deprived of their licences and new tenders for those frequencies will be held soon.

AFGHAN WAR VETERANS MARK 13TH ANNIVERSARY OF SOVIET TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM AFGHANISTAN
On 15 February, hundreds of Kazakhstani veterans of the Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989) gathered in Almaty's Park of Afghan War Victims and commemorated their fallen comrades. On February 15, 1989, Soviet troops were fully withdrawn from Afghan territory and it was officially announced that the Soviet-Afghan war was over. Bolat Sailan, the chairman of the Association of Afghan War Veterans in Kazkahstan, told RFE/RL that he and his comrades oppose sending Kazakh troops to Afghanistan again. He said that he does not believe Kazakh government's assurances that Kazakh soldiers will not be involved in any sort of military operations in Afghanistan. He added that fifteen years ago he was told the same but the reality was absolutely different (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 12 February 2002). In 10 years of the war over 62,000 young Soviets were sent to the war in Afghanistan, of whom 22,000 were from Kazakhstan. Officially 760 soldiers from the Kazakh SSR were killed in the war, 362 of them were ethnic Kazakhs. Twenty-six Kazakhs are still registered as missing in action.

PRESIDENTIAL INSTITUTE OF STRATEGIC STUDIES ORGANIZES INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR ON KAZAKH-RUSSIAN RELATIONS.
Kazakhstan's Presidential Institute of Strategic Researches in Almaty held a seminar on Kazakh-Russian relations in Almaty on 15 February. The rector of the Institute, Marlen Ashimbayev, told RFE/RL that three main issues were discussed at the seminar: the Russian Federation's Position on Central Asia; the current state of Kazakh-Russian ties; and future perspectives for Kazakh-Russian relations.

Ashimbayev said that it is absolutely wrong to consider the U.S. military presence in Central Asia a dangerous precedent for Russia. He added that for Kazakhstan it is very important to have U.S. military troops in the region in order to keep, as he said, "a balance between the centers of power", mentioning Kazakhstan's giant neighbors, the Russian Federation and China.

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