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Kazakh Report: April 4, 2002


4 April 2002

KAZAKH PREMIER ADMITS EXISTENCE OF FOREIGN BANK ACCOUNTS
In a speech to the parliament on 4 April, Prime Minister Imangali Tasmagambetov admitted existence of a secret fund with billions of dollars in foreign banks. He said President Nursultan Nazarbayev issued a special order to create a secret fund in 1996 after the Kazakh government sold 20 per cent of the Tengiz oil field in western Kazakhstan and started to attract more and more investments. Tasmagambetov said that it was not possible to bring the $1 billion that accumulated into the Kazakh economy at once without causing economic damage to the country. "The president took all responsibility and issued an order to form this secret fund in the national interest," Tasmagambetov told deputies.

He stressed that the government, but not the president, has the right to determine how the money is used. He said the government drew on the fund at least twice to "save the country from bankruptcy" -- in 1997 when the government's debt to pensioners reached $480 million, and during the financial crisis in Russia in 1998 when the government again had to spend money from the fund in order to save the Kazakh economy from a similar crisis.

Tasmagambetov reminded deputies that it was Akezhan Kazhegeldin, who was then premier and is now an opposition leader, who approved the creation of secret fund. "And if there is any wrongdoings, it's Kazhegeldin's fault," Tasmagambetov said. Tasmagambetov also discussed the latest events concerning the Democratic Choice for Kazakhstan (DVK) movement. He called the cases against the movement's leaders "ordinary criminal cases." DVK members and other political groups in Kazakhstan say the cases are politically motivated.

Tasmagambetov warned foreign diplomats in Kazakhstan against exerting pressure in connection with these cases. "What is going on is nothing but a fight againt corruption, that is what you want, don't you," Tasmagambetov said.

Tasmagambetov also said President Nazarbayev has the right to have accounts in foreign banks, but he does not have any such accounts. "If there are any, that means that those who wanted to discredit his name opened those accounts," he said. He asked foreign banks to send all the money in such accounts to the "Astana Foundation" fund to finance construction of the new Kazakh capital.

KAZAKH OPPOSITION FIGURE LEAVES FRENCH EMBASSY BUILDING
DVK co-founder Galymzhan Zhakiyanov, who took refuge in the French Embassy on 29 March, left the embassy late on 3 April. Zhaqiyanov was sacked as governor of Pavlodar Oblast last November after helping to found DVK and a criminal investigation was opened against him for corruption and abuse of power. Zhakiyanov and his supporters believe the criminal investigations against him and other opposition figures are politically motivated. Zhaqiyanov took refuge in the French embassy after police attempted to arrest him on 28 March.

According to Zhakiyanov's close relatives and associates, the Kazakh authorities signed a memorandum with the embassies of the United States, France, Germany and Britain, guaranteeing that Zhakiyanov will not be jailed, but he must remain under house arrest. Kazakh officials warned that Zhakiyanov will not be permitted to leave the country under any circumstances.

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