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Kazakh Report: May 21, 2002


21 May 2002

TWO JOURNALISTS BEATEN IN ATTACK ON ALMATY OFFICE OF 'SOL-DAT
Four unknown persons forced their way into the editorial office of the newspaper "Sol-Dat" on Timiriazeva street in Almaty on 21 May and severely beat two of its journalists. "Sol-Dat" Editor-in-Chief Ermurat Bapi told RFE/RL one of the journalists, Bakhytgul Maqymbayeva, was badly injured and her condition is "serious." The four intruders bound the journalists' hands and took all the equipment (PCs, printer, TV-set, etc) with them. Before leaving the office they said to the bound journalists: "That was the last warning to you!"

Orleu movement leader Seydakhmet Quttyqadam told RFE/RL that the incident appears to have been politically motivated. He said Kazakhstan's leadership is trying to curb "the remaining independent and opposition mass media in the country." Gulzhan Ergaliyeva, deputy Chair of the National Congress Party, told RFE/RL that the attack on "Sol-Dat" was politically motivated as were similar attacks on other Kazakhstani periodicals and publishing houses in the past.

"Sol-Dat" is an opposition periodical supported financially by the Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan which is led by former Kazakh Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin from self-imposed exile.

FORMER GOVERNOR OF PAVLODAR OBLAST LEAVES EMERGENCY ROOM BUT STILL HAS HEALTH PROBLEM
Tolen Toqtasynov, who is a deputy of the Mazhlis (the Lower Chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament) told RFE/RL on 21 May that former Pavlodar Oblast governor Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov, who is a leading member of the movement Kazakhstan's Democratic Choice, has been released from the emergency room at Pavlodar's City Clinic #1 and transferred to an ordinary clinic. Zhaqiyanov has been officially accused of financial abuse and is under so-called "house arrest." In the night of 17-18 May he was brought to the emergency room after he had experienced heart problems apparently caused by an eight-hour interrogation. According to Toqtasynov, Zhaqiyanov's wife Qarylghash is allowed to be at her husband's bedside in the clinic to which he was transferred.

Toqtasynov also said that it is ridiculous that Zhaqiyanov was being detained at one of the barracks belonging to the PavlodarSol Company. He said that Qarylghash Zhaqiyanova has a private apartment in Pavlodar, which could have been used for keeping Zhaqiyanov under house arrest.

COMMITTEE FOR PROTECTION OF TAN-TV CHANNEL HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE
The Committee for Protection of TAN - TV Channel held a press conference in Almaty on 21 May at which committee member and National Congress Party deputy chair Ergaliyeva said that Kazakh officials are trying to turn "cooperation" between themselves and the Committee into, as she said "state of war.". TAN-TV channel had to suspend its operations due to a decision of the Almaty City Court earlier this year, after it started covering the activities of Zhaqiyanov and Kazakhstan's former Minister of Trade and Industry Mukhtar Abliyazov. It is not clear now when TAN - TV Channel will re-start broadcasting.

OSCE HOLDS CONFERENCE ON ARMS TRADE
The OSCE office in Almaty and the Kazakh government held a conference in Almaty on May 21 on the illegal trade and transportation of arms. Diplomats from Croatia, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as Ambassadors and experts from the U.S. and Canada participated, as did regional officials, including the Foreign Minsters of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Turkmenistan did not send a representative.

It was reported at the conference that after the collapse of the Soviet Union vast amounts of arms were left in the former Soviet republics. Due to the lack of proper control the lion's share of those arms was sold illegally to criminal groups, drugs traffickers and religious extremists. It was also said at the conference that a special international board to monitor arms in the former Soviet republics is to be established soon.

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