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Kazakh Report: May 29, 2002


29 May 2002

U.S. SENATOR PRAISES KAZAKHSTAN'S DEMOCRATIC ACHIEVEMENTS
U.S. Senator Robert Wexler (Dem, FL) held talks with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in Astana on May 29. Senator Wexler told journalists after the talks that he expressed his gratitude to Nazarbaev and the people of Kazakhstan for their "undivided" support for the U.S.-led anti-terrorist operations in Afghanistan. He also said that he sees the future of Kazakh-U.S. relations as very productive and fruitful.

Senator Wexler added that U.S. has its own 225-year-long experience of democratic development and that Kazakhstan in just 10 years of its independence has managed to achieve significant gains in terms of democratic reforms. He added, however, that deeper democratic reforms might enhance Kazakhstan's development towards democracy. According to Senator Wexler, President Nazarbayev strongly affirmed Kazakhstan's commitment to free and independent mass media.

GASOLINE PRICES RISE
Mazhilis deputy Asqar Qabanbayev has harshly criticized Kazakh Vice Premier Karim Massimov, and demanded from him a detailed explanation for the abrupt increase in gasoline prices on the eve of agricultural season. Gasoline prices in Kazkahstan started rising in response to a similar trend in the neighboring Russian Federation. About one month ago Massimov stated that gasoline prices would not be increased in Kazkahstan in spite of the government's decision to amend taxes for oil refining companies.

MUKHTAR ABLIYAZOV'S LAWYER HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE
Galina Nemirovskaya, who is one of Mukhtar Abliyazov's lawyers, held a press conference in Almaty on 29 May. Abliyazov, a former Minister of Trade and Industry and one of the co-founders of the opposition movement Democratic Choice for Kazakhstan, is in pretrial detention in Astana charged with financial crimes. Nemirovskaya said he has been given only a few days to study the 12 volumes of materials and hundreds of financial documents related to those charges. Abliyazov and his lawyers have protested and requested more time to study those materials.

Nemirovskaya also says that Abliyazov reads, does physical exercises in the prison yard, and plays chess every day. She expressed her hope that Abliyazov's trial will be held open and not held behind closed doors.

INDIAN AND PAKISTANI LEADERS TO MEET WITH RUSSIAN PRESIDENT IN ALMATY
Member states of the Organization on Mutual Trust and Cooperation in Asia will gather in Almaty next week. The Kazakh Foreign Ministry press service announced on 29 May that Indian Premier Attal Bihai Vajpayee and Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf will hold separate meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the OMTCA summit, but the two men will not meet one to one.

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