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Kazakh Report: March 5, 2002


5 March 2002

'NACHNEM S PONEDEL'NIKA' WEEKLY HOLDS TELEPHONE TALK SHOW WITH FORMER PREMIER
On March 1, the Almaty-based weekly "Nachnem s Ponedel'nika" managed to hold a telephone talk show with Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, who currently lives in Europe. The talk show had been advertized beforehand and people from different parts of the country called the editorial office of "Nachnem s Ponedel'nika." Kazhegeldin said that he might return to Kazakhstan in the very near future, but did not mention a precise date. Asked about his possible return to Kazakhstan, Kazhegeldin said that it depends not only upon him but upon the citizens of Kazakhstan as well. The telephone connection quickly deteriorated and connection with many cities and towns of Kazakhstan was lost and could not be re-established.

TAN TV-CHANNEL'S OPERATIONS SUSPENDED
Kazakhstan's Ministry of Communication and Transportation announced on 5 March the suspension for six months of broadcasts by TAN TV-Channel. Technical problems and violation of the law on state language use were cited as the main reasons for that decision. Leaders and activists of Kazakhstan's Democratic Choice (DVK) movement and the Republican People Party of Kazakhstan staged a protest demonstration later on 5 March in front of the Almaty Oblast Communication and Transportation Department building. They demanded the annulment of the decision to suspend broadcasts by TAN TV, arguing that the decision was politically motivated.

Former Minister of Industry, Trade and Energy Mukhtar Abliyazov was sacked from the position of Chairman of the Directors Council of Temirbank on 5 March. Abliyazov was one of the founders of DVK and is also believed to finance and control TAN TV.

KAZAKH PARLIAMENT DEPUTIES EXPRESS CONCERN ABOUT PROBLEMS FACED BY ETHNIC KAZAKHS IN UZBEKISTAN
At a session of the Mazhilis (the lower chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament) on 5 March, a group of deputies expressed their concern over the situation faced by ethnic Kazakhs in Uzbekistan. They said that they have sent an open letter to Kazakhstan's Premier Imanghaliy Tasmaghambetov urging him to look into the matter. According to the Mazhilis deputies, there are currently about 2 million ethnic Kazakhs residing in Uzbekistan. Official statistics give the number of ethnic Kazakhs in Uzbekistan as about 1.5 million.

The Mazhilis deputies estimated that over 350,000 Kazakh children attend Kazakh schools in Uzbekistan. They also say that the number of Kazakh schools on Uzbek territory is decreasing from year to year. Moreover, the fact that Uzbekistan has decided to switch from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet makes it very difficult for young Kazakhs to continue their education at Uzbek universities and institutes, as the Kazakh language is still written in Cyrillic. The Mazhilis deputies urged the Kazakh government to explore the possibility of allowing ethnic Kazakhs from Uzbekistan to attend schools in the Sary-Aghash district of South Kazakhstan Oblast.

CUSTOMS COMMITTEE HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE
The press service of Kazakhstan's Customs Committee reported on 5 March that in the first two months of this year over 21.5 billion Tenges ($14,2 million) have been collected in the form of various fees and taxes. According to the press service, that amount is 121 per cent higher than planned. Since the beginning of 2002, Kazakhstan's Customs Committee has registered 92 cases of smuggling.

OSI HOLDS CONFERENCE ON 1930S FAMINE
The Almaty-based Open Society Institute held a conference on 5 March on the famine in Kazakhstan during the1930s. Members of the Kazakh Parliament, scholars, scientists, and the leaders of some political parties and movement took part. The famine was the result of Stalin's collectivization policy and cost countless Kazakh lives. According to Soviet statistics, the number of Kazakh victims of the famine was about 1 million, but Kazakh scholars claim the total number was over 3 million.

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