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Kazakh Report: June 26, 2002


26 June 2002

MUKHTAR ABLIYAZOV'S TRIAL CONTINUES
The trial of former Energy, Industry and Trade Minister Mukhtar Abliyazov continued at the Supreme Court in Astana on 26 June. Abliyazov answered prosecutors' questions and those of his lawyers. Dozens of people complained in front of the Supreme Court's building that they were not allowed to attend, although it had been officially announced that the trial would be open for anyone interested. Some of Abliyazov's supporters gathered in front of the Kazakh Parliament's building demanding that deputies help them gain access to the courtroom.

Abliyazov said again on 26 June that the charges against him are politically motivated. He is charged with having embezzled about $3.7 million dollars while he serving as minister in 1998-1999 by illegally funneling money from a state-run company to one in which he had private financial interests.

NEW LAW ON POLITICAL PARTIES ADOPTED AND APPROVED BY BOTH CHAMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
The Mazhilis (the lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament) approved on 26 June amendments added by the Senate (the upper chamber) to the draft law on political parties (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 25 June 2002). The law will come to power after it is signed by President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The new law triggered a heated debate in parliament. It stipulates that any political party with fewer than 50,000 members should be closed. Mazhilis Deputy Ghani Qasymov said on 26 June he has sent an open letter to President Nazarbayev urging him to veto the new law. "If such a law starts functioning in our country," Qasymov said, "17 or 18 political parties will have to continue their operations illegally and underground. Only two or three parties favored by Kazakhstan's leadership will remain functioning openly. Mr. President should remember that such a situation is not acceptable for a normal democratic society."

KAZAKH PRESIDENT MEETS HIS GREEK COUNTERPART IN ALMATY
President Nazarbayev held talks with visiting Greek President Konstantinos Stepanopolus in his residence in Almaty on 26 June. They discussed a possible oil route connecting West Kazakhstan with the planned Burgas-Alexandropolus oil pipeline. Nazarbayev reportedly expressed his support for the idea of exporting of Kazakh oil to the West via that route. The construction of that pipeline will cost approximately EURO 700 million and Russian, Bulgarian and Greek companies are expected to participate in the project in the project.

PAVLODAR CITY COUNCIL SECRETARY OUSTED AFTER TRYING TO DISCUSS SITUATION FACED BY OPPOSITION LEADER
Telman Aytqazin was fired from his post as secretary of Pavlodar City Council (Maslikhat) on June 26, two days after he tried to include the issue of the situation faced by former Pavlodar Oblast governor Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov, a co-founder of the opposition movement Democratic Choice for Kazakhstan, on the agenda of a City Council's session. Zhaqiyanov has been charged with financial crimes.

At the 26 June council session which current Pavlodar Oblast governor Danial Akhmetov attended, it was decided that Aytqazin should be removed as council secretary. Aytqazin told RFE/RL last weekend of his intention to raise the issue of Zhaqiyanov at a council session in the near future. Aytqazin is still a rank-and-file council member. He told RFE/RL on 26 June that his firing was politically motivated.

FORMER MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS DETAINED
Former Kazakh Minister of Transport and Communications Ablay Myrzakhmetov was detained by Almaty police on June 26. He is officially accused of financial abuse while being in office. Investigations are underway. No further details are available.

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