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Kazakh Report: February 22, 2002


22 February 2002

KAZAKHSTAN MARKS FIRST DAY OF QURBAN-AYIT
Muslims in Kazakhstan celebrated one of the main Islamic holidays, Qurban-Ayit, on February 22. Mosques all over the country were filled that morning with Muslims eager to take part in Juma-namaz (Friday morning prayers). President Nursultan Nazarbayev visited the Central Mosque in Astana, where he congratulated all Muslims in Kazakhstan on the occasion of the holiday and asked them to pray for stability and prosperity in Kazakhstan.

FORMER STATE SECRETARY NAMED MEMBER OF KAZAKH PARLIAMENT'S UPPER CHAMBER
Central Election Committee of Kazakhstan chairwoman Zaghipa Baliyeva told members of the Senate (the upper chamber of the Kazakh Parliament) on 22 February that the Committee has recommended Abish Kekilbayev as a member of the Senate. The senators approved Baliyeva's recommendation.

Kekilbayev has been working as Kazakhstan's State Secretary since 1995. He will replace Shamsha Berkimbayeva, who left the Senate at the end of January after being appointed Minister of Education and Science. Under a presidential decree issued at the end of January, the position of State Secretary and that of Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister were combined and Qasymzhomart Toqayev was appointed to that merged position after President Nazarbayev accepted his resignation as prime minister.

Abish Kekilbayev told journalists after the Senate session that he had asked President Nursultan Nazarbayev whether any opportunity existed to continue his political career as a member of the Senate. He aded that he is very pleased by the decisions of the Central Election Committee and Senate.

DEPUTY PREMIER MASSIMOV: MERGE OF TWO MAIN OIL GIANTS WAS CAUSED BY ECONOMIC NECESSITY
Kazakhstan's Deputy Premier Karim Massimov held a press conference in Astana on 22 February at which he said that the merger of two major oil producing and transporting corporations -- KazakhOil and KazakhTransOil --was an economic necessity (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 21 February 2002). According to Massimov, the merger may widen investment opportunities for the oil producing sector. He also said that the concentration of control over oil extraction and transportation will improve coordination of operations in the sector.

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