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Kazakh Report: April 21, 2001


21 April 2001

KAZAKH PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION TOOK PART IN CONFERENCE DEVOTED TO THE 95TH ANNIVERSARY OF FIRST RUSSIAN DUMA.
A Kazakh parliament delegation led by Senate speaker Oralbay Abdikarimov took part in an international conference in Saint-Petersburg on April 20 devoted to the 95th anniversary of Russia's First State Duma, the Kazakh Parliament's Press Service reported. In his address, Abdikarimov provided information on the ethnic Kazakh deputies to the first Russian Duma -- Alikhan Bokeykhan, Bakhytzhan Qarataev, Akhmet Birimzhanov and Alpys Ghalmenov.

KAZAKH PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES PUBLIC HEALTH.
The Mazhilis (the lower chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament) discussed public health on 20 April, noting that some regions face shortages of medicines and medical equipment. Also disturbing is the health of children and women: some deputies claimed on the basis of research that only 20 per cent of all pregnant women in Kazakhstan can be classified as healthy.

KAZAKHSTAN READY TO HOST NEGOTIATIONS ON RECONCILIATION IN AFGHANISTAN.
Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Erlan Idrisov told journalists after his talks with the UN envoy on Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell on April 19, that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, who also held talks with the visiting UN envoy the same day, has proposed that Kazakhstan should host negotiations between the two warring factions in Afghanistan: the Taliban and the so-called Northern Alliance. Idrisov noted that Kazakhstan has some experience in hosting reconciliation talks, recalling the negotiations on reconciliation held in Almaty several years ago between the two factions in Tajikistan's civil war.

PRESIDENT NAZARBAEV TOOK PART IN OTAN PARTY CONGRESS.
Kazakhstan's pro-presidential Otan party held its third congress in Almaty on 20 April. President Nursultan Nazarbaev, who attended the congress, criticized the party's leadership for what he termed the "lack of planned and proper activities." Nazarbaev also said that the main priority in Kazakhstan today is the struggle against terrorism, drug addiction, organized crime and separatism. Nazarbaev claimed there are forces in Kazakhstan which try to ignite inter-ethnic hatred in Kazakhstan, but he did not name them.

The Otan party was established on the basis of groups which supported Nazarbaev during the presidential elections held in January 1999. The Otan party is led by former Kazakh Premier Sergei Tereshchenko and has an estimated 300,000 members, most of whom are employees of state-run companies and organizations.

LEADER OF WORKERS MOVEMENT COMPLAINS.
Sakhip Zhanabaeva, one of the leaders of Kazakhstan's Workers' Movement, told a press conference in Almaty on 20 April that she was stopped and harassed by policemen when she was passing by the former Kazakh Parliament building in Almaty earlier that day. The policemen told her that President Nazarbaev was in the building participating in the Otan Party congress, and that her presence near the building was not wanted. Zhanabaeva answered that she was just passing by, without any hostile intentions. She told journalists that the policemen verbally abused her and asked her to leave the area.

The Workers' Movement engages in active criticism of President Nazarbaev and his regime. Another of its leaders, Madel Ismailov, was sentenced several years ago to one year's imprisonment for "insulting the dignity and honor of the Kazakh President."

MOTHERS FROM SOUTH KAZAKHSTAN DEMAND PAYMENT OF OVERDUE SOCIAL ALLOWANCES.
A group of about 40 women from South Kazakhstan began picketing the parliament building in Astana on 17 April to demand a meeting with Premier Qasymzhomart Toqaev or other members of the cabinet. The women say that they represent 49,000 women with large families whose social allowances have not been paid since 1996.The total amount owed to those mothers by the local authorities is 675 million tenges ($4.6 million).

Deputies to the Mazhilis (the lower parliament chamber) rejected a request by their fellow deputy Valerian Zemlyanov to allow the women to attend the 17 April session of the Mazhilis. The women met on 18 April with some parliament deputies, but the majority again voted against allowing them to enter the parliament building, after which some 25 of the women decided to abandon their protest and return home.

The Mazhilis Commission on Agriculture, which comprises 20 deputies, has addressed a letter to Prime Minister Toqaev asking him to investigate the situation faced by women in the Baidibek-bi and Tulkibas regions of South Kazakhstan.

KAZAKHSTAN'S COMMUNISTS SCHEDULE CONGRESS FOR APRIL 21.
On April 19, Serikbolsyn Abdildin, the First Secretary of Kazakhstan's Communist Party, announced in Almaty that the Communist Party's next congress will take place on April 21, in Almaty's "Sputnik" cinema. Abdildin said journalists will not be admitted to the Congress. That ban may be due to friction between the various factions within the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, which are at odds with each other. Some party members even say that Serikbolsyn Abdildin should step down as the party's leader. RFE/RL correspondents in the former capital say the majority of Kazakhstan's Communists support the idea of Kazakhstan's joining the Russia-Belarus Union State.

REGIONAL BRANCHES OF REPUBLICAN PEOPLE'S PARTY UNDER PRESSURE.
Saghat Zhusup, who heads the Republican People's Party branch in Qyzyl-Orda, told RFE/RL on 19 April that in the last several days his organization was subjected to real pressure by the local authorities. He said Kazakhstan National Security Committee officials began summoning party activists to try to persuade them either to stop their political activities or to quit the party ranks. In addition, local media outlets have begun printing articles intended to discredit the party's leaders.

The Republican People's Party is led by the former Kazakh Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin from his self-imposed exile. Kazhegeldin had to leave Kazakhstan in 1998 after the authorities officially accused him of abuse of power and tax evasion.

KAZAKH PRESIDENT: KAZAKHS TO BECOME MAJOR ETHNIC GROUP IN KAZAKHSTAN.
Meeting with World War II veterans and elderly citizens of Almaty on April 18, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev said that the future of the Kazakh language and Kazakh nation will be bright. He added that whatever some people may have predicted, Kazakhs have now managed to become the majority ethnic group in their own country for the first time in the recent history of the Kazakh people. According to Nazarbaev, the number of ethnic Kazakhs in Kazakhstan reached 55 per cent of the country's total population this year. He also said the average age of ethnic Kazakhs in Kazakhstan is 30, while the average age of all the other ethnic groups of the country is about 60. That means, the president said, that Kazakhstan's future will be determined by Kazakhs.

EMBASSY OF KAZAKHSTAN HELD CZECH-KAZAKH ROUND TABLE DEVOTED TO KAZAKHSTAN'S 10TH ANNIVERSARY.
The Embassy of Kazakhstan in Central and Eastern Europe based in Hungary and the Kazakh Consulate in Prague held a special round-table discussion in Prague on April 18. The Kazakh Ambassador to Central and Eastern European states, Toleutay Suleymenov, acquainted Czech politicians, businessmen and students with the Kazakhstan's achievements over the 10 years of its independence. He noted that many mistakes had been made "on the thorny way towards a free market economy and democratic freedoms," but added that the economic development of Kazakhstan has yielded impressive results.

ALMATY MAYOR AND ALMATY OBLAST GOVERNOR MEET.
Meeting in the former capital on 18 April, Almaty Mayor Victor Khrapunov and Almaty Oblast governor Zamanbek Nurqadilov discussed the planned move of the Almaty Oblast administrative center from the city of Almaty to Taldy-Qorghan. President Nazarbaev had issued a decree on that move on 14 April. Nurqadilov said after the talks that from now on, Almaty is freed from the need to provide financial support to the new capital, Astana. That in turn will enable the city of Almaty to provide financial support for the move of the Oblast center to Taldy-Qorghan. Local businessmen will also contribute towards financing the move.

KAZAKH PARLIAMENT DISCUSSED STATE BUDGET ALLOCATIONS FOR 2001.
On 17 April, both Chambers of the Kazakh Parliament (Senate and Mazhilis) revised the state treasury's allocations for 2001. The need to do so was raised last month after it was announced that state budget had managed to get additional 25 billion tenges ($107 million), the provenance of which remains unclear. It was decided earlier that 15 billion tenges of that sum would be given to the newly established Kazakhstan State Development Bank, while the rest was to be divided between the army, the education, and agriculture sectors, and the Foreign Ministry. Premier Qasymzhomart Toqaev agreed at the 17 April session that 2 billion tenges allocated for Kazakhstan's Development Bank should instead be spent for social needs.

KAZAKH PARLIAMENT'S UPPER CHAMBER APPROVES MASS MEDIA LAW.
At a separate session of the Senate (the upper chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament) on 17 April, deputies approved the draft amendments to the law on mass media. The law was drafted by the Kazakh Ministry of Information and Social Concord and approved by the Parliament's Lower Chamber, the Mazhilis, in March (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 28 March 2001). The law limits the volume of retransmission of foreign broadcasting and defines Internet web pages as mass media.

FOUR ALLEGED MEMBERS OF HIZB-UT-TAHRIR PARTY ON TRIAL.
The trial of four alleged members of the international radical religious party Hizb-ut-Tahrir continued at the South Kazakhstan Oblast Court in Shymkent on 17 April. The trial started last weekend and is the first official trial of members of that religious party in Kazakhstan. The four accused, Abduvali Ismailov and Mamed-Sapa Abdikarimov from Turkistan and Zhetkergen Zhetpisbaev and Nurghazy Arqabaev from Kentau, were arrested in the town of Turkistan last year while distributing leaflets calling for the establishment of an Islamic Khalifat in Central Asia. Zhetpisbaev is 55, while the other three accused are in their early 20s.

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