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Kazakh Report: February 21, 2002


21 February 2002

KTK - TV CHANNEL IN ALMATY FINED
On February 21 Almaty's Bostandyq District Court heard a suit filed by the City Committee on Protection of the Kazakh Language against the KTK TV channel. The Court found KTK guilty of breaking Kazakhstan's law on languages and broadcasting. It was proved during the trial that KTK does not broadcast at least 50 per cent of its programs in Kazakh, as is required by Kazakh law. The court ordered the KTK editorial board to pay a 82,300 Tenges fine ($545) to the Almaty City administration. Recently two other major TV channels in Almaty, 31 Kanal and Shakhar-TV, were found guilty of similar violations and fined 12,000 Tenges and 8,000 Tenges respectively.

NEW NGO ESTABLISHED IN AQTOBE REGION, NORTH WESTERN KAZAKHSTAN
A new non-governmental organization called Social-Political Council (SPC) was established in Aqtobe Oblast, North Western Kazkahstan on February 21. Representatives of the Communist Party, Qazaq Eli Party, Orleu movement and others are among its founders. RFE/RL correspondents were told by the leaders of the new organization that the SPC's main goal will be the protection of the rights of Kazakh citizens employed by Chinese administration of AqtobeMunayGaz Joint Stock Company.

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CENTRAL ASIAN WATER RESOURCES OPENS IN ALMATY
On February 21 experts and scientists from the five Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) gathered in Almaty to take part in an international conference on water resources. It was reported at the conference that it is no longer possible to save the shrinking Aral Sea. The increasingly controversial issue of the joint usage of water resources by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan was also discussed.

PRESIDENT NAZARBAYEV CHAIRS SESSION OF NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL...
President Nursultan Nazarbayev chaired a session of National Security Council on February 21. Issues discussed included strengthening security and guarding Kazakhstan's most important industrial facilities, international companies and firms working in Kazakhstan.

...HOLDS TALKS WITH CHIEF OF RUSSIA'S PRESIDENTIAL APPARATUS
President Nazarbayev held talks with the visiting head of the Russian presidential apparatus, Aleksander Voloshin, in Astana late on 19 February. Voloshin told a press conference after the meeting that was attended primarily by journalists for Russian media outlets that he and Nazarbayev discussed the current state and future perspectives of bilateral political and economic relations, and further integration within the so-called Eurasian Economic Association (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan). Also discussed was the preliminary agenda for the CIS working summit scheduled to take place in Almaty in early March.

KAZAKH PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES LAW ON ADOPTION OF KAZAKH CHILDREN BY FOREIGNERS
A heated exchange took place on 20 February during a debate in the Mazhilis (the lower chamber of the Kazakh parliament) on the adoption of Kazakh children by foreign couples. Some deputies called on their colleagues to stop the practice of what they termed "selling Kazakhstan's potential future to foreigners." According to them, in many cases the future destinies of the Kazakh children sold abroad are not clear. They also said that very often dubious companies without proper licenses and documents sold young children from Kazakhstan to foreigners. Deputy Amangeldy Aytaly said that over 1,000 young children from Kazakhstan have been sold to different foreign countries in the last 10 years. Other Mazhilis deputies argued, however, that the children might have found better lives abroad, and that practice should be justified.

PAVLODAR CITY COURT SUSPENDS OPERATIONS OF LOCAL INDEPENDENT TV-CHANNEL
The Pavlodar City Court ruled on February 20 that the local private TV channel Irbis must suspend its operations for three months. The reason for that decision was the channel's alleged failure to comply with Kazakhstan's law on the mass media, which says that electronic media outlets should broadcast at least 50 per cent of their programs in the state language (Kazakh).

Irbis executives told RFE/RL that the decision was politically motivated, and that they do in fact broadcast half their programs in Kazakh. Irbis started facing problems after it reported on the rival demonstrations organized by supporters of former Pavlodar Oblast governor Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov and of newly appointed governor Danial Akhmetov (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 18 and 23 January 2002). Zhaqiyanov was sacked as Pavlodar Oblast's governor last November.

KAZAKHOIL AND KAZAKHTRANSOIL MERGE, EX-PREMIER BALGHYMBAYEV SACKED
President Nazarbayev signed a decree late on 19 February according to which two major oil companies, KazakhOil and KazakhTransOil, were merged. The presidents of KazakhOil, former Premier Nurlan Balghymbayev, and KazakhTransOil, Nazarbayev's son-in-law Timur Kulibayev, lost their jobs. A new company called KazakhMunayGaz was simultaneously created merging the former KazakhOil and KazakhTransOil. The governor of Mangystau Oblast, Western Kazakhstan, Lazzat Kiinov was named president of KazakhMunayGaz and Kulibayev - first deputy president. Balghymbayev's position remains unclear.

On 21 February, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported that on 26 February KazakhOil will launch a five year Eurobond paying 9 percent annual interest.

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