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Kazakh Report: May 16, 2002


16 May 2002

MUKHTAR ABLIYAZOV MARKS HIS 39TH BIRTHDAY IN JAIL
Former Kazakh Minister of Trade and Industry Mukhtar Abliyazov marked his 39th birthday in Astana Central jail on May 16. Abliyazov, who is a leader of the opposition movement Kazakhstan's Democratic Choice, faces charges of financial abuse.

Abliyazov's colleagues Petr Svoik, Marzhan Aspandiarova and Gulzhan Ergalieva, together with Zauresh Battalova, who is a member of the Senate (the upper chamber of the Kazakh Parliament) held a press conference in Astana on 16 May at which they told journalists that they had tried earlier that day to visit Abliyazov, but that only Abliyazov's wife was allowed to meet with him. They also said that they also were under pressure.

Ergalieva predicted that Abliyazov's arrest and trial may affect the outcome of the next parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan, and that the parliamentary election results will in turn influence the outcome of the next presidential elections, which are due in 2006. On May 15, the leader of the Russian Party of Kazkahstan, Gennadii Beliakov, also announced that his party will take part in future presidential elections.

MAJOR KAZAKH OIL REFINERY SUSPENDS OPERATIONS
The Shymkent Oil Refinery (ShOR), which is one of the two largest in Kazakhstan, suspended its operations on May 16. ShOR's office in Almaty refused to answer a query from RFE/RL about the reason for that move and demanded that the question be submitted in writing.

Unnamed sources informed RFE/RL that it is very likely that Canada's Hurricane Hydrocarbons plans to sell its majority stake in ShOR to France's Total-FINA.

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