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Kazakh Report: March 18, 2002


18 March 2002

TURKISH ARMY CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFF VISITS ASTANA
President Nursultan Nazarbayev held talks with the visiting Chief of the Turkish Army General Staff, Hussein Kivrikoglu, in Astana on March 15. General Kivrikoglu is visiting Kazakhstan at the invitation of Kazakhstan's Defense Minister General Mukhtar Altynbayev.

At a press-briefing after the talks, General Kivrikoglu said that Turkey has been providing Kazakhstan with military support since 1998 and will provide military assistance worth $1.1 million to the Kazakh armed forces in 2002. Kazakh Defense Minister Mukhtar Altynbayev said that the Kazakh peace keeping battalion is ready to depart for Afghanistan, but some legislative and financial problems still hinder its deployment there. According to Kivrikoglu, 276 Turkish officers are currently in Kabul. "Their main goal is not just to help to keep peace, but also to assist in forming the Afghan National Army," Kivrikoglu said.

STATE COMMISSION ON TV AND RADIO BROADCASTING MEETS
Deputy Premier Baurzhan Mukhametzhanov chaired a session of Kazakhstan's State Commission on TV and Radio Broadcasting on March 15. The main issue discussed was the TV and radio companies -- Adal-TV of Atyrau, Aktiv-Studio television company of Aqtau, and Rifma radio station of Aqtobe -- which were deprived of their licenses earlier this month. Mukhametzhanov said they were deprived of their licenses to broadcast because they failed to meet the requirements of the Kazakh laws on language and the mass media.

ALMATY CITY ADMINISTRATION REJECTS APPLICATION BY KAZAKHSTAN'S DEMOCRATIC CHOICE TO HOLD MASS GATHERING IN SUPPORT OF MEDIA FREEDOM
The Almaty City administration refused on 15 March a request by the leaders of the opposition movement Democratic Choice for Kazakhstan (DVK) to hold a mass gathering in Almaty's Old Square on March 17 on the grounds that "preparations for Nauryz Holiday celebrations in the city" are underway.

Well-known Kazakh businessman and former deputy of the Mazhilis (the lower chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament) Bolat Abilov, who is one of the leaders of DVK, told journalists on 15 March that the gathering would be held anyway. He added that independent mass media in Kazakhstan need support. Abilov also said that the recent First Congress of Kazakhstani Journalists failed to solve all the problems faced by the independent media in Kazakhstan.

COMMUNISTS OF ALMATY PROTEST PLANNED INCREASE IN HOUSING UTILITIES FEES
Communists in Almaty led by Arsentiy Apolimov held a press conference on 15 March at which they protested the decision of Almaty City's Water Supply Department to increase fees for water supply service from 9.20 Tenges to 13.7 Tenges on April 1. According to Apolimov, other housing utilities will also become more expensive. He said that "ordinary citizens of Kazakhstan" "face such problems due to the refusal of Kazakhstan's current leadership to keep on sticking to the path of socialist development." Apolimov also said that in the event that Kazakhstan does not return to the socialist way of development, more problems will arise in the country. The Almaty Anti-Monopoly Committee announced on 15 March that increases in housing utilities fee will be kept to a minimum.

CHIEF EDITOR OF 'NACHNEM S PONEDEL'NIKA' WEEKLY FACES ACCUSATIONS
Almaty City Court has filed a lawsuit against Ramazan Esergepov, Chief Editor of the weekly "Nachnem s Ponedel'nika," for "ignoring a decision of the Almaty City Court." "Nachnem s Ponedel'nika" was forced to suspend publication for three weeks earlier this month (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 6 March 2002). The verdict was based on the fact that editorial board of the weekly "had failed to show its exact address and that of the publishing house printing the newspaper." The editorial board of "Nachnem s Ponedel'nika" then decided to print the newspaper in Qarghaliy. On 14 March when representatives of the Almaty city police tried to enter the premises of the publishing house in Qarghaliy, the staff of "Nachnem s Ponedel'nika" did not allow them to enter the building, saying that Qarghaliy Town is not part of the city of Almaty, and that Almaty City Court's decisions are not valid there. After the incident, the Almaty City Court accused Ramazan Esergepov of not complying with its rulings.

"Nachnem s Ponedel'nika" started having problems after it conducted a hot line telephone talk show with former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, who is chairman of the Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan and President Nazarbayev's most prominent political opponent.

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