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Kazakh Report: May 17, 2002


17 May 2002

KAZAKH FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS WITH EUROPEAN COUNTERPARTS
Qasymzhomart Toqayev held talks with the Foreign Ministers of Slovenia, Poland, Britain and some other countries during this week's summit of NATO foreign ministers in Reykjavik, according to the Kazakh Foreign Ministry press service. Toqayev discussed with his British counterpart bilateral cooperation, bilateral trade and economic ties, and regional security in Central Asia. At the talks with his Polish and Slovenian counterparts, Toqayev discussed the agenda for the upcoming working visits to those countries by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

FORMER VICE PREMIER OF KAZAKHSTAN IN WASHINGTON
Former Kazakh Vice-Premier Oraz Zhandosov, one of the leaders of the Aq-Zhol party, arrived unexpectedly in Washington this week. Aq-Zhol split earlier this year from the opposition movement Kazakhstan's Democratic Choice movement (DVK), which was formed in November 2001 in the wake of the scandal surrounding President Nazarbayev's son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev and young Kazakh politicians. Two of DVK's leaders, former Pavlodar Oblast governor Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov and former Minister of Trade and Industry Mukhtar Abliyazov, are now in custody facing charges of financial crimes.

Zhandosov declined to give any comments about the aim of his trip to D.C. An unnamed U.S. official told RFE/RL that Zhandosov held meetings with some U.S. politicians at which he reportedly said that he could not imagine Kazakhstan without Nazarbayev. Meanwhile some sources in Kazakhstan reported that Zhandosov's diplomatic passport was confiscated on the eve of his trip to U.S. It is not clear how Zhandosov managed to travel to Washington and what he intends to accomplish there.

NEW GOVERNOR OF NORTH KAZAKHSTAN OBLAST APPOINTED
Vice Foreign Minister Anatoliy Smirnov was appointed the new governor of North Kazakhstan Oblast this week. Kazakh Prime Minister Imanghaliy Tasmaghambetov is currently visiting northern Kazakhstan and is expected to introduce Smirnov to local residents on 17 May. Tasmaghambetov will also visit several major industrial facilities in Petropavlovsk, the administrative center of the Oblast, and visit the central orphanage.

NEW RAILWAY ROUTE MAKES TRIP FROM PAVLODAR TO ALMATY SEVERAL HOURS SHORTER.
Officials of Qazaqstan-Temir Zholy (Kazakhstan-Railways) told RFE/RL on 17 May that a recently constructed new railway route will cut five hours off the travelling time between Pavlodar in North Kazakhstan and Almaty. The new link runs from Pavlodar to Semey (Semipalatinsk). Previously residents of Pavlodar had to travel via Western Siberia in order to reach Semey. The new link will start functioning on June 3.

KAZAKH PICKETERS RETURNED FROM SOUTH KAZAKHSTAN TO ALMATY
A group of picketers led by the chairman of ATTAN-QAZAQSTAN movement, Amantay-Hajji Asylbek, returned from South Kazakhstan to Almaty on 17 May. The group spent 24 days on the Kazakh-Uzbek border protesting what they termed "the reluctance of Kazakh and Uzbek officials to define the exact border between the two Central Asian states." The fate of the predominantly Kazakh inhabitants of Baghys, Turkestanets and other villages on the Kazakh-Uzbek border remains unclear. Last December, citizens of Baghys village even proclaimed an independent Baghys Kazakh Republic in a bid to focus the attention of the Kazakh and Uzbek Presidents on their problems. Many local citizens do not know what country they are citizens of. The chairman of the Committee for Protection of Kazakh Lands, Oral Saulebay, who was also among the protestors, told RFE/RL that President Nazarbayev is responsible for the situation faced by Kazakh villages along the Kazakh-Uzbek border.

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